Beth Potter, Marten Van Riel Favorites For Arena Games Munich

The new Arena Games Triathlon World Championship Series powered by Zwift opens Saturday in Munich, the first of three events which will include London on April 23 and a Grand Final in Singapore on May 7. The Arena Games Triathlon was the brainchild of the innovative super sprint racing of the outdoor Super League Triathlon.

This year’s AGT events follows the inaugural 2021 series with a few minor adjustments to the sprint distance indoor virtual competition which was prompted by a desire of race organizers to offer professional triathlon competition during the Covid pandemic.

In partnership with the World Triathlon organization, the series will combine points totals from the races in Munich and London and the Grand Final in Singapore to determine the overall World Champions.

The Munich event will offer a $40,600 total purse with $5,000 going to the winners, the London contest will offer a $42,200 purse with $5,000 going to the winners, and Singapore will offer $57,000 total prize money with $7,500 going to the winners. The overall series will also offer a bonus pool of $36,000. The total purse for the series is $175,000.

The format offers slam bang action with multiple stages that somewhat resemble the outdoor Super League Triathlon. The 200m swim legs will take place in an Olympic sized pool while the 4km bike and 1km run disciplines are competed on smart trainers and self-powered curved treadmills with the power and speed monitors of the athletes turned into a virtual race via Zwift’s online platform. For both the on-site and the online streaming audiences, the power outputs and wheel rpms of athletes pushing the pedals on trainers or running on treadmills are translated into big screen virtual avatars jousting in front of a virtual course against avatars of other competitors.

There are a couple of minutes break between the three stages, each starting at a set time. Starting with a swim-bike-run, each subsequent heat will shuffle the order. That will reward those that finish quickest by giving them a longer rest period. The results of the three individual stages will combine to determine the overall winner.

Last year’s Arena Games Triathlon winners will be the favorites in this year’s opener, and they offered insights to the challenges and excitement of the super sprint distance events.

“I have to say the Arena Games is maybe a little bit sadistic,” said Belgian Olympic Marten Van Riel, who won back-to-back Arena Games events in 2021. “I think it is the hardest thing I have ever done. Running on the self-powered treadmill is incredibly hard, especially after you have swum and biked already. It is maybe the most painful race I have ever done, but it’s a super cool concept. I am into e-racing and I am looking forward to where it will place itself in future years, as it is the future.”

As he will be going up against an Olympic gold and silver medalist, Van Riel is optimistic and refuses to sees himself as a longshot. “I think I can’t play the underdog for the Arena Games. For sure the others will be looking at me but I am confident I can go down in distance for super short action. It will really get my short course season going in the shortest and fastest format there is. I am super excited to race but I know everyone will be looking at me this year.”

Alex Yee of Great Britain is ready for the challenge. “There’s definitely a lot of strong guys racing but I always go into every race wanting to race to the best of my ability. Hopefully that will mean a win but we’ll have to see what happens. Marten was incredible last year and will be a tough guy to beat but I’m really looking forward to giving it a good crack.”

Beth Potter of Great Britain, who won the women’s London Arena Games Triathlon last year, took confidence from her outstanding running record and from her Arena Games win: “I was expecting the worst last year in London and when I saw the start list I aimed for fifth. Then all those fears disappeared when the gun went and I was on one. I really enjoy the format of racing, and it’s good fun and early season and gives me the chance to do faster training. I hope it is here to stay.”

While last year’s winners are this year’s pre-race favorites, and have high professional ratings in World Triathlon competition, last year’s fields enjoyed a slightly superior overall reputation. Nonetheless, the rest of the Munich fields are filled with rising stars.

Men's Field

Van Riel, Yee, Alois Knabl, Chase McQueen, Gianluca Pozzatti, Simon Henseleit, Max Stapley, Russell White. Aurelien Raphael, Gordon Benson, Joao Silva, Darr Smith, Tiebbe Kaindl, Justus Nieschlag, Jannik Schaufler and Donald Hillebreat.

Women's Field

Potter, Lena Meissner, Luisa Iogana-Prat, Gina Sereno, Ilaria Zane, Barbara De Koning, Iria Rodriguez, Zsanett Bragmayer, Anabel Knoll, Alissa Konig, Petra Kurikova, Romana Gajdosova and Anna Godoy.

Illustrative of the back-and-forth battling in this form of racing, is an account of the Arena Games Triathlon powered by Zwift last year in Rotterdam: “Sophie Coldwell edged fellow Brit Beth Potter by a single point earned by a 5 seconds margin in the final stage of the women’s category. After securing a victory each in Stage One and Two, Brits Coldwell and Potter settled matters in the final bike-swim-run of Stage 3. After a standoff in the opening bike leg, the 26-year-old Coldwell took the lead in the second swim leg at the Zwimcentrum, then Coldwell upset the 29-year-old former Olympic Games runner Potter by 5 seconds against Potter’s formidable run.”

How to Watch:

Super League Triathlon website
You Tube channel on TriathlonLive.TV

Live broadcast/streaming times:
11:00 to 1:30 Eastern US time
17:00 to 19:30 Munich time