Tyler Mislawchuk arrived in Mexico looking like a man on a mission and left with it fully accomplished, a second successive World Triathlon Cup Huatulco gold to his name and a perfect stepping stone towards Tokyo 2020. After a puncture had put the skids on his return to action in Lisbon last month, nothing other than a podium would have satisfied Canada’s number one, and it was a composed display that secured the win.
“I’m over the moon,” said Mislawchuk. “I worked my socks off, Matt Sharpe and I wanted to control the race and rip a quick run. I’ve trained so hard over the last 18 months, we emptied our souls training in Hawaii and I’ve not been home in 14 months, living out of a suitcase. I dedicate my life to this and everything goes into this.”
The mercury was again pushing 30C in the air and the water temperature was likewise, the athletes taking to the beach start at 8am for the sprint-distance race and the last action of the Olympic Qualification period.
Igor Polyanskiy was fastest through the 750m swim, emerging on to the sand first with David Castro Fajardo of Spain and Brazil’s Miguel Hidalgo for company. Right there too was Mislawchuk and home favourite Crisanto Grajales, but it was the Canadian who attacked on the long route into transition to take up a position at the head of a group that he never relinquished.
In fact only 10 seconds separated the top 20 out of the swim and in no time at all the athletes came together in one huge pack of over forty riders navigating the course. Positioning became key, and pace was sacrificed for security with nobody really looking to roll the dice and force a break.
Sweden’s Gabriel Sandor was one of those determined to keep driving things forward, but it was Hungary’s Gabor Faldum who worked his way to the front as transition came into view or the last time, and he was rapidly into his running shoes and out shoulder to shoulder with Mislawchuk.
Kevin McDowell was going well too over the opening stages of the run, moving to the front with Mislawchuk, Faldum, Castro and the Brazilians Messias and Hidalgo working well, setting up a grandstand 5km finale.
It was the Canadian who put the hammer down first though, easing into rare air out front and managing to open up breathing space to the chasers behind. It was the Brazilians right with McDowell, the American knowing that a strong finish would put him to the front of the USA selection committee ahead of Wednesday’s Tokyo team announcement, while Mexico’s David Nunez was also going through the gears and eyeing home-podium glory.
Mislawchuk pulled yet further away, however, and took the tape with an assured 14.50 run, while the battle raged behind.
First Castro dropped off then McDowell, Nunez threatening to strike only to run out of course as Messias and Hidalgo took silver and bronze. It was still a strong fourth for the highest place Mexican, Castro edging fifth from McDowell, Crisanto Grajales, Faldum, Canada’s Jeremy Briand and Ecuador’s Juan Jose Andrade Figueroa rounding out the top 10.
“Me and Manoel (Messias) have been training together for the past three months so I am very happy to share the podium with him and Tyler as well, very strong athletes going to Tokyo and the fact I could manage to be third leaves me very happy.”