Sebastian Kienle talks training, race tactics – and Ali Brownlee

Sebastian Kienle is one of the strongest cyclists on the circuit. Here he talks about his training and racing tactics, and fellow Scott triathlete Ali Brownlee...

Sebastian Kienle Credit: Tom Pennington / Getty Images Sport

Do you enjoy racing Challenge Family’s The Championship in Slovakia?


Of course. I wouldn’t race it if I didn’t as there’s plenty of choice at this time of the season. The Championships is the place to be that weekend. It attracts a very strong field and the venue is absolutely perfect for triathlon, and the hotel is as convenient as it gets.

It’s a great race and after just one year it is already one of those classic races. It is a very fair race because of the 20metre rule and I am looking forward to another duel with Lionel [Sanders]!

 Any equipment changes this year?

Preparation-wise there hasn’t been too much difference to previous years. The equipment hasn’t changed much and we have focussed more on apparel so I have new shoes and a new suit. The changes for me are pretty small as the set-up is already pretty good, however a lot of small things can add up to bigger gains – hopefully!

Any advice for age-groupers?

Always look at what can you change and where you get the most savings for your pounds.

Saving energy on the bike means not only that you can go faster but at the same speed you can save energy, which can be important to run splits.

On one hand, you have to work on your power output, while on the other you have to keep the energy losses as small as possible and aerodynamics play a major role in that. One of the best changes you can make is to tyres. It’s pretty easy to do and doesn’t cost a lot of money.

Also optimise your position and think about your apparel; a fast suit can make a huge difference. There’s endless options to improve so look at what the pros do, and work with your brain as well as your legs!

Is it nice to see Ali Brownlee going long?

It is super nice to see him on the circuit and it is super motivating for me. What gives you the most satisfaction is reaching your own limits and to do that you need to have people in the competition pushing themselves, as well and Ali is definitely one of those guys. There will be some very exciting years ahead of us in long distance racing.

We have seen really strong short-course athletes come over to long distance and for some of them it has worked really well, while for others not so much. However Alistair and Javier Gomez are not burnt out in short-course, and are moving over at their very best performance level. I think they haven’t peaked yet and that we can expect big things from both of them.

Fingers crossed they can stay injury-free, as that can be the winning edge or the cutting edge in your own body.

Has Ali asked for advice?

I think Ali doesn’t need any advice. He has surrounded himself with a very good group of people. I think I have told him a few little things when it comes to the bike but seeing his bike splits it is probably me that should be asking for advice.

Do you change your training to suit each course?

It really depends on whether it’s my ‘A race. If it’s a very important race I will adapt my training to that race.

For the 70.3 World Championships last year I definitely tried to implement some shorter hard hills in my training so I could potentially break away or attack a bunch, but for the other races I stay consistent as there is already a wide variety in my training. I do most of my riding on my road bike and ride with a very competitive group of riders, and you learn a lot from them.

When the race season comes closer I do more specific training on my TT bike on my trainer. I don’t usually do much training on my trainer but this is the best way to do efforts on your aerobars as you don’t have to watch traffic, and you can do the sessions for as long as you like for as long as you are able.

Do you plan your tactics ahead of race day or just respond to what happens?

I would say both. I do some planning because I want to prepare for every situation and have a plan in mind. If you have to think and really make decisions during the race, you have to use energy so therefore it is good to think through every possible situation beforehand, then you already know what you want to do.

But of course the race has so many variables and you can’t influence what others are doing, you can only influence what you’re doing.


For me, unfortunately, the tactics on the bike usually involve trying to catch up after the swim and then create a gap to the good runners. I wish I could implement more tactics into my racing by swimming better! For me my tactics are mostly straightforward – go all out from the gun!

Meet Sebastian Kienle’s tri bike, the Scott Plasma 5