He stormed Austria last weekend and, after his Achilles tear, is back on track for success at the London Olympics. We had a brief catch-up with Al to talk domestiques and sibling love…
Talk us through your mindset during your spell on the sidelines.
There’ve been good parts and bad parts, and some have been an absolute nightmare. It’s bad enough to be injured at the best of times but as full-time athlete in Olympic year… It’s made it tough. But I’m over that now. I’m back to volume and intensity now. Who knows – it might turn out to be blessing. I’ll be under-raced, a bit fresher. But it might not.
What about your brother’s progression this year?
It’s funny, really, because it’s almost taken as a given that Jonny would win those races. He’s been fantastic. You go out and race and people expect you to win. It’s not quite that easy.
One word – domestiques?!
There are massive benefits. One of the biggest worries we’ve got is that the whole field could be against us. There could be attacks galore and a domestique would stop that. They’ll lead you out of transition and keep you safe.
There’s the possibility of a puncture and they could help you there. Or pushing the pace on during the bike to deflect the strong swim-runners. It gives you that extra chance if you have a bad day. It’d be massive for us and Britain as a whole if we win.
Jonny and I are good at it because we train together and can read each other very well.
You’re off to Saint Moritz to altitude train. How does your body react?
It’s fine to go up there and train normally, but the intense stuff takes two or three weeks. Beyond the altitude, it’s a beautiful place to train and very inspiring.
Finally, we hear you had a Slovakian pro racing with you this winter?
That was Richard Vargas – we love swimming with him. He’s just very fast. He’s interesting because he comes from Slovakia and has a very old school Eastern block mentality to training. He was up in Leeds in January; he’s been travelling around the world trying to get points. And he qualified for the Olympics a few weeks ago.