Tom Bishop on the Leeds WTCS race

Last weekend we witnessed incredible feats of precision, control and innovation. The Sub7/Sub8 performances showed that our sport is leading the way in technological advancement and how exciting it is for the viewer. I hope this is the start of a revolution in long course racing and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

What to expect at the Leeds WTCS

This weekend in Leeds will be quite the antithesis of what happened in Germany. The WTCS is furious, reactive and out of control (albeit for the winner). Yes, there are a lot of constants such as nutritional strategies, clothing development, and shoe technology, but the focus areas are about peak production for an hour, not a half-day endurance test. .

We will be running well above the threshold for most of the race as the Sub7/Sub8 teams would ride on a precise line below the physiological turn.

The Leeds WTCS course

The Leeds course remains at Roundhay Park after moving last year due to Covid-19 precautions. The reverse loop is much more difficult and the running course has been kept inside the park; for those who know Roundhay, that means only one thing: hills! Shortened from previous editions to a sprint distance, the WTCS will be very close together, but that doesn’t mean the race won’t split up either.

With a hill straight out of the swim, in typical Yorkshire fashion, the bike won’t slow down at all until the fast descent towards the end of the lap. The second transition will face a downhill exit and straight into a long uphill drag for the first 500 meters of the race.

After that, the gradient rises wildly. If you think that the descent will be an opportunity to recover, you are wrong! I think the last 400m of each lap will be the most damaging of the race and I think it will be the fastest finish of a race.

Tom takes part in a tough cycling training session ahead of Leeds (Credit: CSansomPhoto)

Focus on delivering the race

I have raced every edition of the Leeds WTCS, some of which have been the highlights of my career. Last year was a very different race for me with the pressure of qualifying for the Olympics on my shoulders, but I still ran well considering. This year is a completely different situation.

I spent the start of the winter recovering from a foot injury I picked up last season. It’s fully recovered now, and since my first two races of the year in the spring, training has gone well, so I think I’m ready to deliver a performance that I’m proud of. I see personal bests in training and take a few Strava KOMs which is always a confidence boost, not that it’s always a goal of training, just a benefit!

It is also possible to qualify for our Commonwealth Games Team, but that’s not my goal this weekend. I just want to focus on the delivery processes and compete on my terms.

What’s also really exciting is that my girlfriend Sian Rainsley participate in the women’s race. She is currently ranked fourth in the series, which is incredible for someone in only her second year of racing at the top level. She also has the opportunity to make the Commonwealth Games team, but, like me, it’s about focusing on the course of the race and not the result.

This year is just beginning. As I mentioned before, my first two races were more of a training exercise to see where my current level was and to identify areas for improvement. I approach this race in the same way. In the past, I finished in fifth place but I am in a different position now, and aiming for a final position will not be conducive to a good performance.

I ranked last Saturday after a tough few years, and only started with the invite process. So a modest result is all I have to hope for, but I feel good and who knows what can happen on race day?!

Newbie in long distance triathlon

After Leeds, there is a big unknown for me. I’ve competed in Challenge Wales and other short course races but it’s hard to plan with the uncertainty of selection and qualification. Challenge Wales excites me, especially after last weekend’s races, but I’m a complete novice when it comes to long-distance racing, so it’s just a learning experience.

The rest of my season is unknown. I’d love to plan an altitude boot camp somewhere if the schedule allows because it’s one of my favorite activities. You will be updated in my next article on race plans, camps, and other current news that may arise from now on.

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