I agree, to be at the top levels of racing you must be strong in all three sports. I also agree, that selecting courses that play to your strong suits is an advantage. Those that race professionally need to figure out how to keep their "weakest" sport from keeping them off the podium.
It is interesting to see many of the ITU athletes migrating to longer distances once they don't have the speed to remain competitive at the ITU races.
Of all the races I have watched of late, I have only seem the french guys this past weekend at the BG race actually pull off a win from if I am not mistaken, from the swim. But like TimeLord said, good in all 3 pursuits. I would imagine that was the only way they could hold off the field. It was rather impressive if you ask me. I do like the balanced version of everything but I cant seem to get the difference in ITU and USAT out of my head because of olympics and most international races.
I watched a couple of draft legal races on television this summer and I didn't like it. Its toally out of character for the triathlon. How you do is too dependent on which pack you get in on the bike. It actually seems silly to allow it. Trithlon is an individual sport; not some semi-team event for one segment.
I always thought of the triathlon as an individual time trial sport. Drafting isn't really a part of a real race against the clock (although I recognize the benefits accrued to drafting in the swim). If it were possible to to do the swim without drafting I would like it more, but it's just not logistically feasible for a big event. As already recognized by others here, drafting on the bike affords a weaker cyclist big benefits. I'm a good time-trialist and have been frustrated in many cycling road races and crits because I lacked team or tactical skills -not strength, endurance, or bike-handling skills. Bottom line, I probably would not participate in a draft-legal event.
I will have to admit when the concept of drafting in triathlon came into the picture, I was totally against it. After traveling the globe since 2000, watching the development of the sport, I love to watch a draft-legal race. I like a tough ocean swim, a hilly bike and a rolling run. The multi-lap format is really exciting. If you've not had a chance to look at the speeds these athletes travel for each event, take a look. Last weekend was a World Cup in Lorient, France. Two Frenchmen swam fast and got away on the bike, opening a sizeable gap on the field. It paid off. Video of both the men's and women's races are here http://www.triathlon.org/?call=TWpreg==&keep=sh If you want a concept of the speeds, see the results here http://www.triathlon.org/zpg/zevt-dtl-prtcpnts_v4.php?call=TVRFdw==&keep=sh&id=MTEyNA==&sh=rs&rsid=2576#
Look at the splits. Amazingly fast.
Would I like to do a draft-legal race myself? Only if I could find a swim-bike specialist to help me get away. My run stinks...;)
These guys were pretty much averaging what 25mph on the bike and like 5 minutes and change per mile on the run! Absolutely insane. There were a couple of guys that ran sub 5 minute miles for 6 miles.... INSANE!
I watched the race and was amazed that the 2 guys werent caught by the group. What I figured for sure is that had the french leaders NOT have been a pair, their breakaway probably wouldnt have worked. Having someone there to draft off of and conserve some energy with was definately necessary for the win.
Drafting personally does not bother me. I have not fully experienced it in a group as I am new to cycling, but on one of my training rides a few weeks ago, there was someone else cycling that day that I managed to catch up to towards the end of my ride and sat off his back tire... All I can say is what was usually a hard treck up a long low gradient hill, was extremely easy drafting.
I am actually doing a draft legal race in a couple of weeks. It is bike/kayak/run race. The bike has a Lemans start, not sure how long the run is, a couple of hundred yards. The course has some rollers and one big climb, part of which is on dirt with a dirt descent, so that will break up the pack. I think it would be an interesting format for a race with a swim too.
That looks like a fun race. Let us know how it goes. Get your camera crew to take some photos too.
No, I feel a triathlon is an individual sport and the "best" all around athlete should win. I believe drafting offers an unfair advantage to those cyclists that are not as strong as others.
I completely agree with you that drafting adds an advantage and non-drafting races should be won by the best all-around athletes - but - in some races people cheat. I asked earlier in the thread if people saw drafting in non-drafting races. I started a separate thread for this (the cheaters) discussion.
How do you feel about people cheating in races? Some are so bold as to say, "As long as I don't get caught it's cool. I'll pay the time penalty IF I get caught. Kinda like basketball penalties."
During my tri this weekend I was passed by 4-5 guys on nice carbon bikes that were I would say maybe 3-4 feet apart as the passed a few bikers in a row. I could have just been a lack of room but we were on a stretch with no officials so who knows.
I wouldn't mind a draft legal race, but I would feel that aero-bars would pose a risk to all riders in the event. So if drafting is legal then following the cycling standards for bicycles.
I think that drafting would definitely diminish the best athlete aspect of the sport. Looking at all 3 disciplines - drafting is of inordinate value on the bike. Any speed over 20mph is a race against air resistance. Being in a peloton will reduce the workload by 30%. Does drafting reduce the workload in either swimming or running by even 1/3 this amount. I don't think so.
It is nearly impossible for a solo rider to outrun 3 riders of 10% less strength. If you want to legalize drafting then go ahead and make it a team sport.
Drafting creates tactics. I thought the purpose of the original triathlon event was to see who was the strongest, best, fittest (pick your adjective) athlete. Not who could weasel their way into a win or placing.
Many of the top ITU (drafting) triathletes are also best at non-drafting. Similar to road racing on the bike, time trial specialists are often good overall GC contenders. I think some of the contention comes from trying to make the two sports the same (drafting and non-drafting). While they are both triathlons (swim, bike, run) they are different types of the same sport. This is similar to cycling. All of the following events are cycling events, but they are different (time trial, criterium, road race, mountain biking (cross country, downhill, freeride), track events, BMX, etc.)
Cyclists have found a great way to embrace all of the sports within cycling; but somehow triathletes have not done the same. We don't see cyclists argue that the only true cyclists are the time trial riders and everyone else isn't the best.
Drafting and non-drafting triathlons are simply two styles of triathlon racing. Each has it's unique features, or pros and cons. The "original" triathlon was actually a run, bike, swim event at Fiesta Island in San Diego andwas far shorter than Ironman. Lucky for all of us, the sport has grown by leaps and bounds creating a bounty of equipment, technology, races, coaches, etc.
To get to your specific points, Mw, you are right - drafting in cycling leads to much higher gains than does drafting in swimming and running. That written, the speed and tactics in draft-legal racing has increased enormously just since 2000.
To all that have not actually watched an ITU event, I encourage you to watch some of the World Cup events online and if you have the opportunity - go watch them live.
I find it interesting that the majority of people on this post don't even want to try a draft-legal tri. I seriously doubt that the USAT is all of a sudden going to mandate that all triathlons become draft legal. Though there was an excellent point made earlier that the future of American triathletes competing on the ITU and Olympic level would benefit from draft-legal racing.
So why are people resistant to giving it a shot? To clarify, I'm really only thinking about Olympic- and maybe sprint-distance races. The length of 140.6 and half-distance bike legs are so long, I don't think drafting would benefit the race all that much. But are folks really that afraid of people on beach cruisers suddenly popping the podium champagne?
I guess I'm just looking at it as another version of tri (like Gale says) that could be available to us--the same way an off-road tri requires a mountain bike, other races require kayaks and some just require more than one leg.
There's also the competitive angle. I'd like to pit the legs and cycling smarts that power my $900 Specialized Allez Sport , cheap helmet and no tri bars against the legs and bike skills of the guys who rock the Cervelo P3 and aero helmet (though I also agree with the poster who said tri bikes shouldn't be allowed in draft-legal races for safety reasons). I think it'd be fun. I don't see any problem with adding smarts and skills to a contest of strength and speed. And don't worry, you'll beat me in the run...unless you average 10-minute miles, too.