Adam Bowden raced his way to a fine 7th place finish at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The assembled field was one of the strongest ever seen at this distance and included Olympic medallists and race favourites Jan Frodeno, Javier Gomez and Alistair Brownlee, amongst a host of established long-distance athletes.
Adam, who trains out of the National Triathlon Performance Centre of Wales (NTPCW) in Cardiff, was making his debut in this Championships, having stepped up to long course racing following a successful ITU career that saw him finish ranked 9th overall in the World Triathlon Series in 2016. He has achieved a string of top results this year, including finishing second at the European 70.3 Championships in Denmark in June, as well as winning the Escape Series Triathlon in London in August.
A lead group of 9 formed on the swim, which included all of the pre-race favourites and Adam himself. These 9 athletes then proceeded to blow the rest of the field away over the first 30km, opening up a gap of 5:00 over the huge chasing group, which comprised a number of quality athletes, including the likes of James Cunnuma and Sven Riederer.
Adam slipped off the back as the group started to splinter when pace went on once again from Alistair Brownlee, but he settled into a disciplined solo ride over the final 50km that saw him come into T2 in 9th position, 2:30 back from the top-7 and 2:00-4:00 up on the chasing group which had fractured over the last 20km. With his strongest discipline to come, Adam was right in the game. As an epic battle raged up front between the three protagonists, Adam ran another disciplined and well-paced effort, quickly moving up to 8th, before catching and passing Braden Currie for 7th with just 3km remaining, on his way to the 4th fastest run split of the day.
Adam was understandably delighted after the race, as this performance, from a man who only sat on a time trial bike for the first time in March, shows that he truly belongs on a world-class level over the longer distance.
We have caught up with Adam now he’s back in the UK for a quick chat about his race…
WT: Well done Adam on a great performance, so how do you feel?
AB: Thanks, yeah I’m absolutely delighted, considering it’s my first year over the longer distances, riding a time trial bike, to finish 2nd in the European Championships and 7th in the Worlds I’m over the moon!
WT: Talk us through the race…
AB: My swim was solid; my main goal was to stay as close to the front as possible so I’m happy with that. The first part of the bike I was just racing it to stay with that front group more than anything – I’m still adapting to sitting in the group and holding the gap at that legal draft distance, but it’s all experience at the end of the day and I’m still learning a lot.
At around 30k, it was pretty “surgy” – I didn’t find the hills too bad, but it was on the flat sections where I was finding it harder to hold the gap. After that I just focused on my power and kept my head down and managed to hold a big group off with some incredible riders in it.
I felt like my usual self on the run, but made sure I didn’t go out too hard after what happened in the European Champs [Edit: Adam took the lead of that race with around 6k to go, but faded slightly and was re-passed for the victory]. I think this race was the most gels I’ve ever taken on the run! I kept my eyes on those in front, caught and passed a couple of them and pushed hard all the way to the line – I didn’t leave anything out there.
WT: So looking forward to next year then…!?
AB: Yeah I’ll definitely be stronger, probably tweak the bike position and try to put a few more watts on my threshold so I can really stay with those front guys.
WT: What have been the main differences stepping up from ITU to 70.3 racing?
AB: It’s the bike mainly, the distance is longer, holding that consistent power rather than the really stochastic efforts in ITU racing and holding a really good aero position. We’ve really worked on that as it was definitely my weakness to begin with. The swim is pretty similar and run wise has been ok – I can run 70s [Edit: 1hr 10min half marathon off the bike] all day – it’s not the same as trying to run a 30min 10k.
WT: How has training with NTPCW helped you this year, as it’s quite unusual for a long-distance athlete to train as part of a Performance Centre?
AB: It’s been great! Swim wise there’s always fast guys to push me along in the pool. We’ve got a good group and I can still do the key sessions swim/bike/run with the guys and maybe add a little bit of volume or specific work for my discipline. The flexibility of the Centre is the main thing – the coaches really adapt the sessions so that everyone can get what they need. We are all pretty good at sharing experiences and learning from each other as well. Andy [Lane – Adam’s coach in the Centre] has really helped me with the bike work – he’s given me some sessions in the last few weeks that have nearly reduced me to tears, just trying to push my strength and threshold on, but we’ve still managed to keep the flexibility for me to race and win over sprint and standard distance this year [Edit: Adam was the winner of the British Elite Sprint Championships in Cardiff in June, and followed that up by winning the London Escape Series event in August].
WT: Thanks Adam, we look forward to continuing to follow your progress next year!
Now into it’s second season, the NTPCW was established in April 2017 as a partnership between Welsh Triathlon, Cardiff Metropolitan University and Cardiff University and supported by Sport Wales. The goal of the Centre is to support athletes to maximise their potential at elite international level. More information about NTPCW can be found on the following link: