Podcast #59 Marten Van Riel: on a mission to dominate every format possible
After finishing just one place away from not just an Olympic podium but also a world title in 2021, Marten Van Riel came out blazing in 2022, starting with a 70.3 Dubai win in such dominant fashion that it caught even the 29-year-old by surprise.
Next stop? The Arena Games Triathlon Munich. The two events could hardly be further apart in terms of format but, as he explains on the latest edition of the World Triathlon Podcast, that’s all part of the challenge for the versatile Belgian. You can listen to the episode in full on Spotify, Apple and Google and watch the Arena Games on Saturday 9 April free and in full on TriathlonLive.tv.
“It’s maybe one of the most painful things I’ve ever done,” reflects Van Riel on his 2021 Arena Games debut. “I suggest everybody that has or sees one of those curved treadmills in the gym to try and go all out on it for a longer period. It’s super, super, super hard. And we’re going to have to do like five races or something in a day. I really enjoy supporting new events and new styles of racing and I thought it would fit well into my program to now basically transition back from that half distance I did to do short distance.”
Speaking of painful, Van Riel may have won both Arena golds in Rotterdam and London but he doesn’t hold back on his bittersweet emotions over the positions he found himself after Tokyo 2020 and the Edmonton Championship Finals.
“I’m super proud of the journey I’ve had, more than disappointed. It’s something I would have never expected, that I could come this close to a podium in a running race. But yeah, obviously it’s still a painful position to be as well.”
Van Riel also begins 2022 with a new coach, sticking to life in Girona after previous trainer Joel Filliol relocated to Australia. Glenn Poleunis and the PTC Training Group is the new stable and, after so long with Filliol, the Belgian admits the switch took some adjustment.
“After seven years, you can’t just completely break with a way of working and do it completely different from one day to another. So that takes a bit of time, but for sure, I was very happy to be able to win Dubai because I was a little bit insecure - before I was always training with a lot of the best guys in the world and basically I could see that level in every training session. And now that’s a bit different.
“We’re working a little bit more on small deals like gym work and stretching as well, that’s for sure out of my comfort zone. I barely have done any of that in the last seven years. We’re doing a lot of very fast stuff on the run to try and really raise my top speed, that’s also challenging. I really noticed now that after so many years of working in a very similar way, basically any other trainings do get kind of difficult.”
And a final word on the next Games and the clarity he has over what needs to be done over the coming Olympic cycle to break onto that podium in two years’ time? Unfinished business, determination and no shortage of self-belief could well drive him to continue his Olympic ascension since Rio 2016.
“Yeah, Paris for sure, I want to go for it. I’m 31, I have a sixth and a fourth. So I feel like that’s not the point that I can leave short distance.”
Listen to the full interview below, as Marten looks back over the highs and lows of a tumultuous 2021, relives those final kilometres of WTCS Edmonton shoulder-to-shoulder with Kristian Blummenfelt and Leo Bergere, reminisces about being a drummer in a band as a teenager and considers heading to a rock festival with the rest of the Belgian Hammers.
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Related Event: 2022 Arena Games Triathlon Series Munich powered by Zwift
|Results: Elite Men|
|Results: Elite Women Heat 1 Stage 1|
|3.||Barbara De Koning||NED||00:12:57|
|Results: Elite Women Heat 2 Stage 2|
|3.||Anna Godoy Contreras||ESP||00:13:42|
|Results: Elite Men Final Stage 2|
|Results: Elite Women Final Stage 2|
|5.||Anna Godoy Contreras||ESP||00:13:11|
12:51 - 07 Apr, 2022
02:58 - 07 Oct, 2021