Alistair Brownlee continues his middle-distance quest

Heading into tomorrow's Challenge Championship all eyes will be on two-time Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee. catches up with the British superstar as he prepares for his third half-distance race in Samorin, Slovakia.

| June 2, 2017 | PERSONALITY

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

After two Olympic gold medals, Alistair Brownlee has set his sights on long-distance racing of late. The result? A dominant win at Challenge Gran Canaria followed by an amazing race at Ironman 70.3 St. George where he bested two of the greats in 70.3 racing - Lionel Sanders and Sebastian Kienle. We caught up with the British superstar as he prepares for his third long-distance foray against a stacked field at the Challenge Championship in Samorin, Slovakia:

"There’s a bit of nerves going into any race, isn’t there," he said when asked if he was nervous about the race tomorrow. "Of course, there’s a bit of the unknown. The two races I’ve done I’ve been relatively happy with and have gone well in terms of the result, but there’s always things you can do better and there’s always things that are unknown in the race. Things that haven’t gone quite right. It’s important that you race through the length of the race, getting your nutrition right, getting your pacing right – all these things that are important to get right, I don’t feel like I’ve nailed those yet, so it would be good to at least get some of those right tomorrow."

When asked if he would return to WTS racing in the future, he said:

"I’m not entirely sure yet. I definitely don’t want to say that I don’t want to do the next Olympics because the Olympics is such a massive thing and it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do in sport, but that dream of long distance racing, especially trying to be the best in Hawaii is a really big thing for me. After being a triathlete all my life that’s always been up there on my list of things to do. I definitely want to head in that direction and try and be competitive with the best guys in the world over the long distance stuff at some point. Whether that happens in the next few years or a bit longer, I’m not sure."

When it was pointed out that many in the sport were surprised as to just how well he's ridden the bike in his two half-distance races, Brownlee feels that he probably was always a bit more suited to that style of riding.

"I’ve had a bit of a chance to train for what is, basically, a two-hour time trial and at the end of the day it’s an engine capability thing. You can either ride at a certain wattage or you can’t. For me its been a matter of getting out and training in the best position I could be in and be able to ride at a good steady state power output, effectively, and that’s what I’ve been training to do."

"The two races I have done have been very up and down – this is slightly different as it’s an absolute flat two hour effort with hardly any corners for a break, so that is going to be little bit different and a slightly new challenge for me," he continued, referring to tomorrow's pancake-flat ride in Samorin. "It’s still pedaling a bike at a constant effort. I always felt like I was a bit more suited to more of a constant effort power output. I spent a whole career training to go harder than a bit easier, harder than a bit easier. Constant output is something that suits me a bit better."

Has he enjoyed his long-distance efforts so far?

"If you take it in context of the whole event, I’ve really enjoyed the events," he says. "I’ve spent a long time racing WTS and gone to three Olympics – a decade of Olympic racing – and so its been really nice to come to new places and see a different event and everything that surrounds it. I’ve really enjoyed that. I must admit that, in terms of the actual racing, I enjoy that competitive, that gladiatorial-like racing people next to you, which I haven’t had in middle distance. I am sure I will. It might be tomorrow, I might have a bad race. Obviously you’re going to race people and its going to be more of that man on man thing – that’s the one thing I’ve missed in middle distance racing ... There’s all the little things you should be going through to make sure you’re focused and trying to race at the best of your ability, but I think that what you don’t have is that person next to you doing something that you have to react to. Or, even if you do, you react more slowly, especially with a race like this where the draft zone is so big. The people shouldn’t have that much of an effect on your individual performance."