Mislawchuk returns to Huatulco for final World Triathlon action before Tokyo
Before all eyes turn their focus to Tokyo and one of the most eagerly anticipated Olympic triathlon programmes to date, the men’s World Triathlon Cup Huatulco looks set to provide one last dose of qualification-period drama.
The sprint distance course consists of a one-lap, 750m swim in the bay of Santa Cruz beach, leading into a four-lap, 20km bike course that traverses the town with two long, straight sections and a couple of tight, more technical turns, and a two-lap run finishing in Santa Cruz Plaza. You can watch all the weekend’s action from Mexico on TriathlonLive.tv.
Back to the start list and wearing the number one comes Tyler Mislawchuk, fresh from an extended training block in Hawaii and Arizona and now ready to rediscover his 2019 form that saw victory on this very course. Bad luck on the bike in Lisbon ended his challenge after a good swim three weeks ago, and the hot temperatures expected in Mexico are likely to suit the slight Canadian once more as he builds towards Tokyo.
Aaron Royle arrives after a good showing at WTCS Leeds and knowing that a third and final Australian men’s place in Japan is in the balance as he currently occupies 29th spot in the Olympic rankings.
Mexico’s Pan-American Games champion Crisanto Grajales will be hoping to fire up the crowd on a course that has historically not seen his best performances. Teammate Rodrigo Gonzalez delivered the goods back in 2018 to edge Manoel Messias into second, and in 2015 it was the Irving Perez show here, so Grajales will be motivated to join the list of Huatulco’s homegrown heroes.
Brazil’s Messias also starts, ready to put a disappointing weekend in Lisbon behind him and power up for the kind of finish that saw him fly to World Triathlon Cup gold in Lima two years ago.
With only five places between them on the Olympic ranking, US duo Eli Hemming and Kevin McDowell will both be hungry for the kind of performance that will convince the selectors of their value on the team for Tokyo, McDowell’s 11th place at WTCS Yokohama a firm reminder of his ability while Hemming has a handful of Cup podiums over the years and will be just as laser-focussed on the task ahead.
But Hemming will not only be thinking of the selection panel. In order for the USA team to secure a third man in Tokyo, Hemming (currently ranked 30) needs to stay within the top 30 of the Olympic rankings after the race, a position that McDowell cannot get even by winning the race. He must keep an eye on Aaron Royle (currently ranked 29th), Crisanto Grajales (currently 31st) and of course, on whatever happens in the Oceania Continental Championships in Port Douglas early Saturday morning, where Luke William (AUS) - currently ranked 33rd - will be fighting for valuable points that could potentially give the Aussie team their extra ticket to Tokyo 2020.
Talented young Israel star Ran Sagiv is due a good result after his superb form of 2019 was disrupted by the break in competition, and scored a fifth place here two years ago.
In the battle for the Europe New Flag spot, Russell White (IRL) is in pole position, but only a handful of places separate him from Ognjen Stojanovich (SRB), Richard Varga (SVK) and Stefan Zachaus (LUX).
World Triathlon Cup Huatulco
Sunday 13 June, 8am CDT