ITU Sprint distance Duathlon & Triathlon to DRAFT LEGAL from 2016

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Sources:  *UPDATED* below – it is real

How exciting! A new bike to buy. It looks like the International Triathlon Union (ITU – see info below) has banned your bike from an ITU SPRINT TRIATHLON world final (presumably qualifiers and sprint duathlons).

Why ban my bike?: If you have drafting allowed in a race you get a pack of cyclists and, with tri bars, you can’t brake safely. You crash and bad stuff happens.

Maybe ITU events attract only the highest quality cyclists…errrr…no…. I’ve competed at ITU events and I’m a bit rubbish unless straight lines and quads are involved 🙂

Why the move to draft legal racing?: Any ideas? as I’m not sure!! It must make a race more of a spectacle, maybe. It seems to work well at elite level (olympics + world series) and the general consensus amongst the media-powers-that-be is that it is good. Personally I’m not convinvced, not that my opinion is that important. Even the elite duathlon championships (effectively a super sprint / sprint distance) are draft-legal (not everyone knows that, now you do).

It does make some sense though as, with things as things currently are, sometimes it’s really good swimmers or really good cyclists who win. Now that might be changed to give the good runners a chance 🙂 What’s this site called again? 🙂

Scenario: I get out of the water one minute behind (likely !!!) I pedal like merry hell for 15 minutes with the help of the other rubbish swimmer who qualified alongside me (there are quite a few of us). We then relatively easily catch the main group as no-one in that group is prepared to put the effort in as there are no teams trying to make one person win. Everyone is in it for themselves and therefore it is stupid to be at the front of the bike pack. I cruise for 15+ minutes on the bike in the pack, no way do I take my turn on the front. Then I beat every single really good cyclist AND every single really good swimmer as soon as the running shoes come in. I still won’t win but I’ll do much, much better. Super !

To all National Federations, ITU would like to make you aware that its Executive Board has approved a change to the Competition Rules which will see the ITU Sprint Distance Age Group competition at the World Championship move from a “drafting-illegal” to a “drafting legal” competition.  The Standard Distance competition will remain as a “drafting-illegal” race.  The enforcement of this rule will go into effect at the Grand Final in 2016.

EDIT: Actually the more I think about this the more involved it is. Firstly the GB champ automatically qualifies. So then the GB champs have to be non-drafting (currently no Sprint Duathlon GB champs exist). Also eg Nottingham this year was a qualifier for the ETU and the ITU this would be much more difficult to organise as both would need separating out (probably) – and then the issue of fixture clashing becomes more likely (eg Kitzbuhl and Stockport/Rother). Also pack racing I would have thought would only be allowed on closed roads – so Clumber, Eton, Stockport, Southport, Oulton Park and the like would be OK…but not Big Cow. And spare a thought for the poor drafting bike marshal-person…he’d be out of a job or two!

EDIT EDIT: Having read the slowtwitch interview and the memo (links below) I’m now even more cynical. It seems that draft-legal and draft-ILlegal ITU events can BOTH happen side-by-side at the same ‘event’. So the cynic in me says that this will boost numbers competing quite a bit and the host country and ITU can eeek out some extra tourist dollars from the sports-holiday loving GB masses (of which there are ‘masses’)

Summary: It makes it a bit more like real ‘elite’ triathlon but it won’t be the same as team orders and team work will not be there. Obviously there are some scenarios that counter my ideal scenario (above) eg where 3 top guys want to race it amongst themselves for the medals and are all of a similar running standard. Anyway, “just” some new handlebars (and a re-wire) will make many of us race-legal and many people I’ve seen in their unusual (but comfortable) upright tri-bar position will find that drops make them MORE aero (IMHO).

I think logistically the BTF will find it hard to implement whether or not you think it’s a good idea.

All change…………..

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4 thoughts on “ITU Sprint distance Duathlon & Triathlon to DRAFT LEGAL from 2016

  1. Sorry that you will lose the NON-Drafting Sprint Race at Worlds but the ITU has done this to increase participation, numbers, and in turn sponsorship dollars. It probably hopes to bring in a younger more thrilling crowd to compete in this more dangerous race format. Some people wanted to race the Sprint and Olympic distances but that is hard to do and since 99% of participants chose one discipline over the other they needed to attract new and different people to the World Championships. This is their way of trying to do that and the sprint was safer because the distance was shorter, participation also lower and the chance of accidents less. Ultimately it comes down to money. ITU needed to make World Championships look more popular for more sponsorship and money!

    DU Smithy

  2. Disaster for the sport. Its an individual sport and loses its appeal and becomes a lot more dangerous. The elites should move to non-drafting. Race of truth for me every time.

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