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Q&A: Elite Triathlete Ben Collins
With the 2012 triathlon season is still in its early stages, U.S. elites are taking advantage of early season international races. This includes elite triathlete Ben Collins, who made a last-minute decision to travel to South America and compete in the Lima ITU Triathlon Premium Pan American Cup on Feb. 26. His decision paid off, as he won the race by nearly a minute over his next closest competitor. USA Triathlon caught up with Collins to hear more about his race performance and what he is looking forward to next.
USA Triathlon: When did you decide to go to Lima for the race on Feb. 26?
Ben Collins: I decided Tuesday before the race. I thought a good (ITU rankings) point score would help getting into the San Diego (World Triathlon Series event).
USAT: You were the only American at this particular race, is it hard to be the only one representing the U.S. at an event?
BC: When you're competing with other Americans for WTS and World Cup starts, it's actually kind of nice when you're the only one. Also, you would be surprised how many people come out to cheer on athletes from the U.S. I never really feel alone. At this race there were some Americans in the age group race who stayed to cheer me on. That was kind of cool.
USAT: What did you enjoy about the course there?
BC: The course should set an example for ITU races. There was a good climb on each lap of the bike, and then a challenging, technical descent. Too often the ITU creates courses that are flat out-and-backs. Or if a course does feature a hill, any advantage you may gain on the climb is negated by a long gradual descent (where a large group of athletes has a huge advantage over small groups or an individual).
Lima did a wonderful job of redesigning their course for 2012. I would definitely recommend this race over other early season (ITU) races.
USAT: Was there a turning point in the race where you knew you could take the tape?
BC: When I crossed the tape. The course was hot, and even with a substantial lead going into the run, I was afraid that I would struggle to keep going. When I finally reached the finish chute I felt like I’d beaten the odds. My effort paid off, but it was a huge risk in those conditions.
USAT: How does this win set you up for the rest of your triathlon season? What other races are you planning this year?
BC: Right now I'm only able to go one race at a time. This race solidifies one of the eight potential U.S. starts at the San Diego Olympic qualifier, but I still need a solid World Cup finish in order to secure that spot for myself. My focus now is entirely on the Mooloolaba World Cup in a few weeks.