SPORTS LEGENDS STUART O'GRADY AND SPENCER SMITH TALK CYCLING STRATEGY
Hamilton Island, Australia (March 17, 2017) - With Super League Hamilton Island only a few hours away, some of Australia’s living greats are on location to watch history unfold.Stuart O’Grady is one of two Australians ever to have won the legendary Paris-Roubaix cycling race. With a career spanning almost three decades, he has won an Olympic gold medal and was a major contender on the Tour de France for the green jersey and wore the yellow jersey twice. O’Grady noted the island’s humidity as one of the major limiting factors the athletes will be facing today. “Heat’s one thing but humidity really saps you. Doesn’t matter what kind of effort you’re doing whether you’re in the water or running or riding. Any exercise in this kind of humidity is going to kill you,” he said.
Even as a former professional cyclist he understands how difficult and technical this bike course will be, with a major climb up Mango Tree Hill straight out of transition done six times to complete the six-kilometer bike loop. He quipped, “First of all I’m just glad I’m not doing it, it is really gnarly, it’s technical.”
He also had some thoughts on the athletes’ bike selection. “It’s always easier to climb on a road bike; you don’t see guys on a time trial bike in the Tour de France or any major stage race. They normally opt for the road bike. You can still do 50km an hour on the flats on a road bike.”
Spencer Smith has the distinction of being not only a world champion triathlete, but also a professional cyclist. One of the first professional triathletes to transition from ITU format to long course successfully, he won three consecutive ITU world titles (one junior, two elite) and two Ironman titles.He agreed with O’Grady’s assessment, saying, “You’ve got to be able to throw this bike around.”Smith noted another important factor in a race where mere seconds can decide a win or just another 10th place position. “I don’t think we can talk about the transition enough,” he said. “I think it’s going to be absolutely vital. You drop a chain, you drop a shoe, [all the other athletes are] gone. It’s over. It’s over for that race.”
Strong cyclists can easily make up time and stretch a lead by attacking up Mango Tree Hill. “if you can throw your gear down and go straight up that climb I will put it to you to start attacking. If you feel you don’t have that ability for the run, if you want to stretch [your lead], it’s right there for you to cause that selection,” said Smith O’Grady however offered a word of caution. “It’s sort of like the event is one whole threshold time trial, not maxing it out. To win this overall you’ve got to be very strategic, obviously bloody good, and be willing to play a bit of poker as well.
“These events are raced in the red, this is all about threshold. It’s about trying to do this whole thing at about 95 percent. If you go 100 percent you’re gonna be in the hurt locker for the next event. You want to make a statement, but you don’t want to overcook it early. You want to be more about trying to keep in the top three, and then go all out on the last day.”
But for the young athletes trying to make a name for themselves, Smith has other advice. “If I were an up-and-comer, I would just go for it. I would just blast through it.”
Which athlete will make their move in today’s Triple Mix? You can watch all the action right in your living room. Super League Hamilton Island will be broadcast live on www.superleaguetriathlon.com on 17-19 March 2017 from 1600 AEST.