Brit ITU racer Mark Buckingham competed at the Rio Test Event in 2015. Here are his insights into where the Olympic Games races will be won… and lost
The Swim Start
With a beach run in, strong swimmers won’t get away as quickly as usual. But once the race goes round the first buoy, expect things to quickly string out.
The swim is one lap of 1,500m, which gives the athletes near the front an extra advantage as the race lines out. Add to that the possibility of choppy water and rolling waves, and there’s a strong chance of an early break in both the men’s and women’s races. T1 is a short run up the beach, but zaps the energy out of the legs.
The Bike Climb 1
Onto the bike, athletes will have about 200m of road before a sweeping 180° turn, so expect them to get their feet into their shoes before this. The next 1km is extremely fast to the foot of the very steep climb that hits a 20% gradient (Climb 1).
The Bike Climb 2
The descent from Climb 1 is very fast and has two technical bends, anyone trying to chase on to a pack will need to join by the foot of Climb 2, which the athletes will soon get over as it’s not hugely steep or long.
On the run, expect to see athletes tucking behind each other for shelter, especially if there’s a strong coastal wind. The last 180° turn before the finish is still 1km to go, so anyone who kicks from here is either feeling very good, or very brave. Simply, this is one of the most demanding Olympic/ITU courses ever!