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Olympic contenders look back at Lisbon

Amelie Kretz kept her Olympic dream alive while the Canadian men worked on their "domestique" strategy for Tokyo

Photo by: Janos Schmidt/ World Triathlon

It was an up-and-down weekend for Canada at the World Triathlon Cup Lisbon, highlighted by Amelie Kretz’s sixth-place finish in the women’s individual race. The race in Lisbon was an important one in terms of Olympic qualification as Canadian athletes try to nail their spots in Tokyo. Going into the weekend Canada had qualified two men and one woman for the Games. Based on Canada’s selection criteria, two of those spots are likely to go to Tyler Mislawchuk and Joanna Brown. Canada could have guaranteed themselves a second woman’s spot on the start line in Japan with a top finish in the Mixed Team Relay event on Friday, but Canada’s top athletes ended up not competing and the young Canadian team that did race was eventually lapped out. 

We caught up with the three people who are in the hunt for an Olympic spot this summer who competed in Lisbon, Kretz, Matthew Sharpe and Alexis Lepage.


Amelie Kretz

Kretz keeps her Olympic dream alive

After it became apparent that Canada wouldn’t be fielding a top relay team on Friday, Kretz pulled out of the relay to focus on the individual event in Lisbon. If she can earn enough points to move high enough in the standings, she’ll earn Canada a second women’s spot in Tokyo, which would also mean Canada could compete in the inaugural Mixed Team Relay at the Olympics.

Under pressure, she pulled through with a brilliant performance that netted her the sixth-place finish. Here’s how she recapped her race:

It was a good race today. I had a good first lap of the swim. It was really choppy and hard to gauge where I was at. It was a bit aggressive in there, so I lost a couple of spots in the swim. I saw that the Spirig train was behind me so I was hopeful we could bridge to the front of the race on the bike,

The bike was hard. It was really windy out there and the road conditions weren’t great, so it made for a hard ride that was a bit sketchy at times, but I managed to hide as well as I could. I actually cramped in T2 – my left quad so I had trouble getting my shoe on so I left transition a bit behind, I think – I was one of the last one’s out.

I went for it on the first lap, tried to make my way back to the front. I settled with Kirsten and with Summer, so I ran with them for about two laps, then Kirsten asked if I could help her in the wind and I was already pretty gassed and I said ‘no,’ so she just attacked me and I know how strong she is. I’ve trained with her and I know she’s a racer and I couldn’t respond, so I ended up running the third lap on my own. It was really windy out there and I lost a bit of time on Kirsten and the chasers behind caught me at the beginning of the last lap, so I kept contact with them until maybe 500 m to go and I didn’t have the legs to go with them so I had to settle for sixth which I’m pretty pleased with.

I know I have more in me. I made a couple of mistakes today, but I really needed this result today after Yokohama and the last year it meant a lot to me and my sport team and my family. It was a bit emotional at the end. Its another great step towards that Olympic qualification. After a tough week with the Canadians we kind of needed this.

Matthew Sharpe

Sharpe executes according to plan

Canada has determined that an important part of the selection process for the second member of the team is to be able to serve as a “domestique” for Tyler Mislawchuk. Both Sharpe and Lepage were in Lisbon with that purpose in mind. We caught up with Sharpe after the race for his thoughts on how the day went.

It was a pretty wild race, there was a big wind, the sea was super choppy and there were almost 75 guys on the start line thirsty for points.
This race was a designated Olympic selection event for Triathlon Canada, they were looking for specific ability to help a targeted athlete on the swim and the bike. 
I exited the water right at the front and once I got on the bike I focused on locating Tyler. Once I found him I shepherded him to the front of the bike pack. It was super hectic in the bunch and definitely a good day to have a bit of help out there. I would keep him at the front during critical moments so that he would stay out of trouble and keep his legs as fresh as possible for the run. 
Unfortunately, he flatted. So I waited up for him and just tried my best to minimize the damage to the front group. 
I was very happy with how I executed my race today. Full credit to my coach Lance Watson for helping me believe in myself, and preparing me perfectly for this race.
Alexis Lepage

“Nothing left in the tank”

After a stellar swim at the front of the race,  worked with Mislawchuk early in the bike, but then struggled and would eventually pull out. He provided this recap on the day:
My task was pretty simple, I had to help Tyler as much as I could. I had a good swim and I waited for Tyler in T1 to help him bridge back to the front pack. Unfortunately, after about 2 km on the bike, I had nothing left in the tank and I couldn’t help him anymore.
My tasks were over at that time. It’s unfortunate, because my window of opportunity was already small and I wasn’t at 100%. The power output I had on the bike in the previous weeks/months was a lot greater than on the bike today, and everything else (sleep, nutrition, mindset) was ready to go. I don’t understand yet why I couldn’t have some power on the bike today, but I know I gave everything I had leading to the race to be 100% ready.