Ellie Salthouse, Marten van Riel headline banner weekend for Trek triathletes

Ellie Salthouse wins her third straight race, extending a brilliant run of form

Ellie Salthouse dominated the field at Ironman 70.3 Geelong, posting the fastest bike and run, and second-fastest swim, to win by more than five minutes over Amelia Watkinson.

Salthouse has now won three straight middle distance triathlon events after taking Hell of the West in February, and the Australian championship at the Husky Triathlon in early March. At the latter race, she won all three segments but battled with Annabel Luxford until deep into the run. This past Sunday, there was never doubt that she was the strongest woman in the field, but she had to fight her way into the lead nonetheless.

Ellie Salthouse winning the Husky Triathlon on March 2

Though Salthouse was behind only Alexandra Brown out of the water, a slow transition of 3:59 forced her to play catch-up to several competitors. Watkinson’s transition was 1:18 faster, which meant that Salthouse had to gradually claw back distance over the course of two-plus hours on the bike. She’d take the lead into the second transition, however, and after starting the run in a near dead heat with Watkinson, Salthouse powered home.

Salthouse congratulated her podium mates, Watkinson and third-place Grace Thek, after the race, saying that “it’s an honor to race against such talented athletes.” Her next race is in roughly two weeks at Challenge Shepparton, where she’ll try to keep her momentum across home Australian events going strong.

Marten van Riel during one of three bike segments at Super League Triathlon Arena Games London | Photo: @superleaguetriathlon

Marten van Riel wins unique "Triple Mix" event at Super League Triathlon Arena Games London

The SLT Arena Games gave the traditional triathlon formula a twist. The event was held entirely within the London Aquatics Centre, which notably does not have a cycling or running track. Competitors raced in person, but socially-distanced on treadmills and smart trainers using Zwift for the run and bike portions, and in a 50-meter Olympic pool for the swim.

The race segments were short — 200m swim, 4km cycle and 1km run — but completed in sets of three stages. Each stage mixed up the order of the segments — Stage 1 went swim-bike-run, Stage 2 went run-bike-swim and Stage 3 went bike-swim-run.

Martin van Riel bumping fists with Alex Yee, who finished third at SLT Arena Games London | Photo: @superleaguetriathlon

The format made for breathless, exciting racing, and Marten van Riel thrived in the format. The standings were based on competitors’ finishes, not overall time, and Van Riel took second, first and third in each stage, respectively, to take first by three points over second place Justus Nieschlag. Van Riel was the only competitor to finish top three in each of the three stages.

Van Riel hadn’t raced in a year and a half due to the pandemic. He evidently hasn’t missed a beat.

“Just being on a start line again felt super good,” Van Riel said after the race. “I have to say that this short and furious format is more brutal than I expected. The lungs were burning and the legs screaming after the first race, and then we still had to do two more. I was super stoked to come away with the victory in the end against some big names.”

Tim Reed on the run at Ironman 70.3 Geelong | Photo: @koruptvision

Tim Reed and Alex Yee take bronze medals in Geelong and London, respectively

To round out the strong weekend, Tim Reed and Alex Yee took home bronze medals.

Reed competed among the men in Geelong, and closed out the race with a strong run to take third by 52 seconds over Tim Van Berkel. Reed is still rounding into season form, which made the result particularly satisfying.

“I finished off a huge training camp for Ironman Australia on the Wednesday of race week, so I was expecting an utter slogfest on Sunday,” Reed said. “But I surprisingly felt strong, so I was pleased with third.

“I’m feeling really on track for my main goal of the first half of the year, which is Ironman Australia [on May 2].”

Alex Yee finishing up a swim segment at SLT Arena Games London | Photo: @superleaguetriathlon

Yee stood on the podium with Van Riel at the SLT Arena Games. He missed a breakaway group on the third stage and settled for fifth among the 10 men’s competitors. He bounced back to take third on the second stage and second on the third stage, however. If he had been 1.7 seconds faster on the final run, he could have pipped Nieschlag for the silver medal.

After the race, Yee said he was pleased with the result, and enjoyed the format.

“I felt really controlled on the bike throughout, and really enjoyed the mixture of virtual and real life racing,” Yee said. “After racing a lot of Zwift races over the Covid lockdowns in the UK I felt I was tactically aware and prepared!

“I’m really pleased with the processes I achieved this weekend. It gave me confidence in certain aspects, and highlights where my focus should be leading into the first World Triathlon Series race in five weeks.”