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World Triathlon revamps mixed relay, bans clip-on bars in draft-legal races from 2023

Men will start off mixed relay events for the next three years

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

Not sure we saw this one coming. Last summer we saw our first mixed relay event at the Olympics, which was a source of a lot of excitement in the triathlon world as it provided the sport with a third medal event. Today we’ve learned that the order we’ve become accustomed to for the mixed relay – woman/ man/ woman/ man will be changing next year through to the end of 2024 – the men will now start the race. This will “be applicable on all levels of events,” according to World Triathlon – the first time we’ll see it in action at a major Games will be at the Commonwealth Games next summer in Great Britain (Birmingham).

The strategy behind the mixed relay is always an interesting challenge for federations as they look to find a fast women’s swimmer to start the race to ensure their team is near the front through the first leg of the race. Now that emphasis will switch over to the men, with teams looking for a woman with a big kick to close out the race. It will certainly be interesting to see how the new rule changes the dynamics of the racing over the next three years.

Clip-on bars forbidden

As of 2023 we’ll no longer see aero bars on bikes in draft-legal races. There were strict rules on the clip-on bars that were legal for draft-legal events (and age group athletes weren’t allowed to use them in their drafting races) – they couldn’t extend further than the brake hoods and had to be enclosed at the ends – but one imagines that the still provided some benefit for athletes who spent a lot of time at the front of the pack or on breakaways.

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Today’s press release doesn’t provide any insight on why these rules are being changed, but, for the most part, one can’t imagine there will be much to complain about by getting rid of clip-on bars. The large groups that we see out on draft-legal courses look more like cycling pelotons than they don’t, and it’s hard to imagine the UCI embracing clip-on bars at any point in the future.

Other changes and news

According to today’s release the World Triathlon Executive Board also approved changes to the penalties for swim behaviour (increased) and will move the wetsuit limits higher for athletes over 60.

The board will propose to the International Olympic Committee that the Olympic qualification period for the Paris Games will run from May 27, 2022 to May 27, 2024. We also learned today that the rules for the newly launched Arena Games world championship will be approved soon.

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