This Sunday is the ITU Long Course World Championships, this year being held in Vitoria-Gasteiz, in Spain. This happens to be the home town of Eneko Llanos is one of the favorites for this race. Eneko has a very impressive resume, including racing at 2 Olympic Games, before making the switch to long course, where he has had multiple Ironman wins, including going sub 8hours last year and many top 10 finishes in Hawaii, including a 2nd place. Eneko will have some stiff competition for the race, with the likes of Dirk Bockel, Chris McCormack and James Cunnama, all heading a 35 strong Pro start list.
I have been lucky enough to train with Eneko the last 2 years that I have been over here working with the Australian Triathlon team. This year especially is has been great, as I am also racing the World’s race on Sunday, so to have the opportunity to do some of my preparation with one of the worlds best has been a real privilege.
Eneko was generous enough this week to take time out of a busy preparation and media schedule to give us some of his insight into the race and what it means to him:
Thank you for taking the time out of your World Championship preparation!
My pleasure mate
Vitoria is obviously your home city, what an amazing opportunity to have a World Championship here. Can you tell me a little bit about how much this race means to you and why?
Is one of the most important races in my triathlon career. I always compite far from home and to be able to race in a WC here in my home, with the close support of my people and in the places where I’ve been training my whole live. Is something really exciting and I’m really looking forward to the race.
This will obviously be a great thing for Vitoria, exposing it to the World. What are a couple of the highlights that you think the visitors will discover that are unique to the town and the race?
Vitoria-Gasteiz is a small city very nice for walking, I recommend visiting the city center, the old part of the city is really nice, the guided visit to the Old Cathedral (Santa María) is very interesting as is a good way to understand the history of our city. Eating is a religion here, there are very good restaurants everywhere and of course very good wines, Rioja Alavesa is another interesting visit for wine lovers only 45 minutes from the city. Don´t forget to try “Hirugoxo” the dessert specially made for the World Championships by “El Calerete” restaurant and “Artepan” bakery. Vitoria is surrounded by the Green Ring, many parks and natural spaces to enjoy a relaxing walk in nature.
I know you had a great race in the Melbourne Ironman, did you start preparing for the WC race following this or when did your preparation start for the World Champs?
Yes, after Melbourne I took a long break and then started my preparation for Vitoria. I started my training at the end of April so I have been preparing for this race the last 3 months. This allowed me to do a good preparation and to get to the race in a great shape.
I know you have been doing some training with the Australians who are based here in Vitoria. I know they have enjoyed having you there, has it helped your preparation along also?
It’s been great to train with the NSWIS group coached by Jamie Turner. I did some training with them in Wollongong and when they arrived here I did most of my swims with them and some very interesting runs. Is always good to have people to train with and always good to be pushed in the pool, this boys and girls are very fast!! I want to thank Jamie for allowing me to share with them some of their workouts. And of course is been great training with you Alex and showing you the course and the roads around here.
Having trained on the course quite a bit myself, I know this won’t be an easy race. Where do you feel some of the key points are for those racing?
Is a fast bike course but it doesn’t mean that it is easy. There are a lot of rolling hills and not many places where you can stop pedaling and recover. So I think key here is to pace yourself very well, don’t go too hard in the first bike loop because the last 30 kilometers of the bike are tough and the wind can pick up and you will need some extra power to get to Vitoria. The run is flat and shadowed for the most part of it, it goes through the city center and we expect to have lots of public and a great atmosphere, is a good run to enjoy and suffer in the last kilometers.
Your results recently in racing speak for themselves. What is one of the key sessions that you feel has really got you race ready and peaking for the Vitoria race?
I like doing transition runs, so having the bike and run course here at home made it very easy to do race specific bike run transitions. 120K on the bike course doing the last 60K at race pace followed by 20K race pace run was one of the workouts I enjoyed the most.
Thanks again for your time, I look forward to seeing you out on the course on Sunday!
It’s a pleasure mate, have a great day out there as well.