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SLT Arena Games Surfaces New Champions

The young and fearless came through as the new champions of the inaugural Super League Triathlon Arena Games today in Rotterdam. The innovative part-virtual, part-real world sports event featured 10 men and 10 women racing three rounds of swim-bike-run with the order of disciplines shuffled each time. The 200-meter swim leg was held in a 50-meter pool at Rotterdam’s Zwimcentrum, while the 4-kilometer bike leg and 1-kilometer run leg were conducted poolside on bike trainers and self-powered treadmills connected to virtual platform Zwift.

Making her Super League debut at the Arena Games, Jess Learmonth of Great Britain took the top spot in all three rounds to become the undisputed champion, beating out Dutch favorite Rachel Klamer and Belgium’s Valerie Barthelemy. Reigning Ironman world champion Anne Haug tested her short-course chops to finish 9th overall. Read the race report here.

While Germany’s Jonas Schomburg established a seeming dominance through the first two rounds to take first and second spot respectively, it was his compatriot Justus Nieschlag who edged out Portugal’s Vasco Vilaca and five-time world champion Javier Gomez of Spain to take the crown. Olympic silver medalist Jonathan Brownlee tied with Gomez and Schomburg in the overall points, but ultimately ranked fourth when the tiebreak took into account Gomez’s second-place finish in the third round. Read the race report here.

Learmonth said: “The Triple Mix format was so hard. It felt absolutely horrendous as I felt smashed after the first stage. I had a massive advantage with my swim as it doesn’t take that much out of me and I can recover in the pool. I’ve never done anything this hard before as it’s the thinking of different things, such as picking up your goggles and remembering I had to swim after the treadmill run [in Stage 3]. You always need to be thinking of other things.

“It’s great being back racing. I was apprehensive as I haven’t raced since the 2019 Tokyo test event and I didn’t know what to expect. It’s amazing that Super League have put this on for us and we really appreciate it because I know it was difficult.”

Nieschlag said: “I never thought I could come and win here as I haven’t raced for more than one year. It feels amazing as I hadn’t even thought about winning this race. It was all about tactics today and not going too hard at the beginning. I swam well today and my transitions were good and that was key for succeeding here.”

Gomez said:“I didn’t think I’d make third place overall after a pretty tough start to the day. If you make a small mistake in this type of racing, then you’ll pay for it. I didn’t expect to be on the podium overall, so I’m really pleased. It’s not the favourite distance of an older guy like me but it was really fun as well. I raced a French Grand Prix event yesterday and the trip to get here was horrendous, with everything going wrong. I slept for four hours and I felt it most in the first triathlon, but I’m proud to have been competitive against some of the best guys at these shorter distances.”

Haug said:“I didn’t have any expectations on my performance as I knew the other girls were faster than me. I wasn’t as strong as I could have been be to be competitive here, but I’m very happy about bringing myself to the test and having a motivational challenge. I’m very proud that I survived somehow and kudos to all the other girls. I’m also really thankful to Super League for giving us this platform to race… it’s a perfect format.”

The broadcast was a Herculean endeavor with the race venue in Rotterdam, Zwift production in Edinburgh, overall broadcast direction from London, statistics and numbers coming from Singapore, and commentary beamed from Sydney with MANA top brass CEO Chris McCormack and Director of Content Will McCloy in the booth.

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