Last year, the first-ever World Triathlon elimination format event saw three Frenchmen power to the WTCS Montreal podium. Dorian Coninx spearheaded the tricolor 1-2-3 along with Vincent Luis and Leo Bergere in a sprint showdown that really put their mettle to the test, their Grand Prix training ground clearly paying dividends to the short-sharp style of racing. But a lot has happened since then, and it is exactly in the unpredictability of this kind of racing that the magic lies.
This year the super-sprint action - 300m swim, 3-lap/7.2km bike and 2-lap/2km run - again crosses two days, Friday’s two qualifier and repechage races ultimately seeing thirty athletes confirmed for Saturday’s final. That final will be split into three super-sprints, the last 10 across the line being cut at each finish until just 10 athletes remain for one last swim-bike-run for the medals.
Tactics will be key, conserving energy without risking elimination. Recovery time between those final races is short, approximately 7 minutes from the first across the line to the next start horn. It’s going to be fast and furious and all on TriathlonLive.tv.
The opening qualifier sees 30 men hit the start line, two of the top three last year included – Bergere and Coninx joined by Pierre Le Corre in the chase to avoid the extra effort of the repechage.
Bergere still seeks his first WTCS gold but has been knocking at the door time and again, with bronze in Yokohama and silver in Leeds so far this year. He leads the Maurice Lacroix rankings, his form is undeniable, is Montreal going to be his race?
Along with those three, Alex Yee (GBR) and Jelle Geens will be hoping that qualification is a formality but taking nothing for granted. Yee was involved in a nasty collision that ended his Leeds race two weeks ago and keeps Jonathan Brownlee from this weekend’s start, and the Olympic double medallist will want to put that behind him with his first taste of the Montreal format.
Marten Van Riel finished in fourth last year and has proven his versatility across most distances in the past 12 months. That ability to adapt and push the limits could be key to his success here, despite being just outside the top ten in both Yokohama and Leeds so far in 2022.
Takumi Hojo and Kenji Nener lead the line for Japan in a qualifier that is thick with talent and could throw up some headaches for the higher-ranked athletes. Tayler Reid (NZL) and Richard Varga (SVK) will be sure to press hard in the swim, Shachar Sagiv (ISR) and Samuel Dickinson (GBR) on the bike and Jawad Abdelmoula (MAR) and Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS) on the run. It’s going to get heated.
The three men involved in the sprint for the World Cup medals in Huatulco just the weekend before line up in the second qualifier – Genis Grau (ESP), Tyler Mislawchuk (CAN) and Miguel Hidalgo (BRA). That effort and subsequent travel will be tested here, Mislawchuk still testing the achilles he injured at Tokyo 2020, Hidalgo in the painful position of finishing 11th in the penultimate race of last year’s finals to just miss out on the chance to go for the medals.
New Zealand’s in-form Hayden Wilde picked up his first WTCS gold in Leeds and, like Vincent Luis (FRA), is sure to enjoy the intensity of super-sprint racing that could bring out the very best in them both.
The Spanish pair of Antonio Serrat Seoane and Roberto Sanchez Mantecon both have the explosive race power necessary over the short distances, as Seoane proved in last year’s edition with his fifth-placed finish overall.
Like Mislawchuk, Richard Murray – now racing for Netherlands after his nationality switch – will need to be realistic with his chances following recovery from surgery for the heart condition that hit his Tokyo 2020 campaign. An impressive 7th place finish at WTCS Leeds underlining the determination and grit that means you can never discount the South African.
USA’s Seth Rider was the only man involved in EVERY race possible here last year – qualifier, repechage, all three finals AND the mixed relay – securing top 10 in the individual race and relay gold in the toughest way, but showing what is possible.
Men’s Qualification rounds
Friday 24 June, 2PM (local)