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Pro Q&A: Paul Amey

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Photo: actionpix
Photo: actionpix

Before the race, nobody knew how the inaugural draft-legal TriStar200 Andalucia Triathlon was going to pan out. All of the athletes knew that it was going to be tough, but it was difficult to predict where and when the attacks would happen. One man who figured it out better than the rest was Paul Amey, who took the title. We caught up with him to talk about the race.

Q: Take us through your race:
A: It was good. It was a bit nerve-racking at the start because the sun hadn’t really come up, so I was more concerned about staying upright on my bike than racing.

A small group of four or five guys broke away in the first 15kms and we managed to get into a breakaway of eight with most the main guys – Zamora, Santamaria, myself and a couple of relay guys. From then on for the next 60 or 70km there were attacks going on – Francois Chabaud was trying hard to jump up to the next group because they weren’t too far ahead.

Nothing panned out and then there was a hilly section where I was at the front and I managed to get a 20-meter gap without pushing too hard so I knew some of the guys were suffering a little bit. So I attacked and managed to ride up to the next group. It took about 5km to catch them and then when I did I said ‘let’s go’ and for the next 30km we rode really well together and we managed to put in about 6 minutes on the main individual guys.

Then it was just a matter of trying to hang on.

I had an okay swim but cramped badly coming out of the water. In the transition I cramped up again and then managed to start running but at the 1km mark I was cramping again.

I was a bit concerned that the guys behind – mainly Zamora – was going to catch up. But I managed to start running and then it took me about 5km to get into a decent rhythm. Once that fell into place I was running not too bad and I managed to hang on to win.

The last 10k was pretty tough but I knew I had a bit of time on Zamora. It was a hard day but everything worked out good in the end.

Q: How was it working in a pack?
A: I’m used to cycling in a pack and I enjoy it. It’s another reason why I decided to come down here – I enjoy bike racing. To do a drafting race over 170km with a swim and run afterward it’s a bit difficult.

I was chatting to the Pros before and you think ‘drafting will be easy’ but because it’s so long and knowing that you have to run afterwards if you get a breakaway like we did we had to work harder. We knew we had a lead and we knew we had to push to keep that lead. When it’s non-drafting you ride to a limit but you always know you won’t push too hard. Yesterday we knew we had a lead we wanted to keep so we had to keep rolling round and working together. That’s probably why we were cramping.

I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the tactical side of it. I’ll definitely try and do as many as I can.

Q: What do you think about the format for the race?
A: It was good. It was challenging. It was something new and I think it was a lot more tactical because of the bike being first. The two individual guys I was riding with in the breakaway knew they didn’t run and swim as the others so they attacked about 15km into the bike – which was smart – and established a lead. It was lucky that I managed to ride across to them. We worked really well together and it helped me get the lead for the swim and run.

If it was a different day things could have been different.

Q: Do you think this format will keep going?
A: People always want a new challenge. If it had been swim-bike-run I would have known how the race would pan out. But because it was bike-swim-run I had no idea – especially in a race with guys who are pro-cyclists or really good on the bike.

A lot of guys were struggling with the bike being first and then having to swim. After speaking to all of the pros pretty much everyone was cramping coming out of the water so if I did the race again I’d know that I’d have to take in a lot more salt than what you would if it was a normal swim-bike-run.

Running on the beach was unique as well. I’d like to see how it would be different if it wasn’t a beach run but I think in general there will be a lot more events that are different – whether that’s bike-swim-run or run-swim-bike or whatever. It’s good. It’s still triathlon but a change.

Q: What are your plans for the remainder of the season?
A: I’m going to go back to the Active Vacances gite in the Pyrennes where I’ve been training. That’s why I think I won yesterday – I got in some good training with Kathy and Paul Donnelly and they’ve really helped me set up a good training base. So I go back there for ten days then fly to the States for World Duathlon – that’ll be my last race before Kona. But I’m still undecided – if I don’t do Kona then I’ll keep training for Clearwater.

I’ve been struggling with my cycling fitness and had a few illnesses this year so it’s good to see everything is on-track. I’ll see how training goes for the next ten days and then make a decision on Kona, but from the race yesterday I’ll definitely start Kona and see how it goes. That’s the plan, but plans change.

Check out a gallery of the race here
For a full race report click here