Stuart Hayes interview

Team GB’s third man Stuart Hayes opens up on his Olympic experience, including pre-race mind games, celebrating with the Brownlees and why Jonny could’ve got silver…

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Issue ID: September 277

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220: What have you been doing since the Olympics? Alistair Brownlee spoke on the BBC about ‘owing you more than a beer or two’…

Hayes: I did a couple of nights of celebration but, to be honest, I can’t keep up with the youngsters! I did some training too so anymore than that would polish me off!

You’ve had wins at Kitzbuhel ITU World Series and the London Triathlon but the race that’s got you the most exposure is being a domestique at the Olympics.

I’m doing a bit of media, mostly local newspapers, although not as much as the Brownlees. People have been saying, ‘I can’t believe you sacrificed yourself’. And I was like ‘Well, to be honest, I wasn’t really in contention to win a medal’! I’ll take the domestique Olympic experience, keep an eye on the Brownlees and make sure no one knocks them off or tries to attack them.

Were they in danger in that pack?

I think Alistair would’ve been okay, but if Jonny had got carried away, especially with that penalty, he could’ve lost out because the French guys [Laurent Vidal and David Hauss] were so close behind. I’m just glad I was there to take the pressure off them; they’re such good athletes and pretty much chase anything down and bring it back. They just had to be careful that they didn’t over do it. I personally think Jonny could’ve got silver if he hadn’t had got the penalty.

But he was dropping off Gomez before he took the penalty.

I think it was a plan in his mind that he slowed off because he knew he had to take the 15-second penalty. I saw they way he trained, he’s unbelievable. They do so much training. But Gomez was worrying him on the bike; he kept mentioning it to Alistair.

How much did you communicate on the bike?

We didn’t really do much, apparently Jonny was shouting at me for 5mins but I don’t know what he was saying.

What were you thinking when you missed the first swim pack?

My aim was to hit the front pack but I actually got boxed in. The pace was too fast for me to go around the guy in front. So I thought ‘Just save your energy and maybe things will come together on the bike’.

Could you have influenced anything from that chasing pack?

Some cyclists block when their teammates go by, I’d never do that. It actually worked to our advantage that Alistair and Jonny got away, as the other guys had to chase for so long. As soon as I caught up I took over and made sure the pace was high enough that nothing could get away.

Is being a domestique a viable career option in tri?

They do in cycling, so if the sport becomes big enough and there’s enough money around. Alistair and Jonny would never complain about having riders working for them. At the moment it probably won’t happen as much but in the future if teams start to develop; it’s been going on at the French Grand Prix for years because they split the prize money and have bonuses for the team, not the individual.

Were you surprised more people didn’t attack on the bike at the Olympics?

I’m surprised they didn’t try something more to get away. A lot of them were waiting for the run but they’ve never outrun the Brownlees before so how do they think their gonna do it on the Olympic games course? I wasn’t going flat out because I was waiting for guys to try and get away. It was easier than I thought it would be.

What was Alistair’s mini-break on lap six about?

That’s the best thing about the Brownlees; even though Alistair’s the fastest runner he’s still trying to get them on the bike. I think the break was him saying, ‘I’m not even tired’. That really messes with his rival’s brains because they’re obviously thinking, ‘Oh my God, we’ve just spent two laps trying to catch them and now he’s trying to jump away’. I think he’s just playing mind games with them personally.

Where did the idea come from for the Olympic helmets?

It was actually funny, before the race we turned up with our aero helmets which no one else had thought about, we had the cut off ones specifically made for road racing. Some of the athletes saw this and started panicking and they spent the last few days before the race thinking, ‘Where can we get these helmets from’?

The helmets had an almost retro vibe.

They’re helmets with shelling over the vents. The Brownlees went for the road version and I had a track helmet and they made a big difference. That was the first time I used one in a race, we’d been training for the last three weeks and so we knew they were a lot quicker.

Come back tomorrow for Stuart opening up on his future and his performance advice for UK triathletes. Stuart was speaking on behalf of Speedo; you can view their range at www.speedo.co.uk.

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Image: Janos Schmidt/ITU