The mixed team relay at the Olympic Games in Tokyo will take place on Friday at 6:20 pm EST. We were treated to some very exciting races for the individual triathlon, but the relay will certainly be even more exciting!
It was recently announced that Alexis Lepage will take the place of Tyler Mislawchuk in the relay thanks to an Achilles tendon injury. It’s a shame for Mislawchuk, who wanted to take part in the relay following his somewhat disappointing performance in the individual triathlon, but it’s great news for Quebec’s Alexis Lepage.
The Canadian team will include Amélie Kretz, Matthew Sharpe, Joanna Brown and Alexis Lepage. Kretz will start the relay by performing a super sprint distance triathlon: 300 m of swimming, 6.8 km of cycling and 2 km of running. Subsequently she hands off to Sharpe, who then passes on to Brown, with Lepage finishing the race. Lepage has a very good sprint, so if Canada is in a good position towards the end of the race, he will be able to move up a few spots thanks to his excellent finishing kick.
Kretz’s role is to be part of the lead group on the bike. However, Great Britain’s Jessica Learmonth and American Summer Rappaport can be expected to come out of the water together with a small lead over the main group. Learmonth came out of the water in first place in the individual triathlon with Rappaport in fourth, just 5 seconds from the race lead. Rappaport is a very good cyclist, but as we saw in the individual triathlon, she is not as good technically as Learmonth. One would assume, then, that Learmonth will likely try to escape alone on the bike to give Great Britain an advantage. On the other hand, if Learmonth rides alone rather with Rappaport, it will give other countries, including Canada, a chance to get back to the front of the race.
It would be very surprising, indeed, if Great Britain managed to maintain their lead for the rest of the race. I expect to see a small group including the Britts, France, USA and Germany form at the front.
The race is therefore likely to come down to the anchor leg. Here are the triathletes who will race last for the favorite countries:
- France : Vincent Luis
- Great Britain: Alex Yee
- United States: Kevin McDowell
- Germany: Justus Nieschlag
- Belgium : Jelle Geens (if he is eligible)
- Switzerland: Max Studer
- Australia: Jacob Birthwhistle
Among that list, the most complete triathlete is Luis, but the best runners are Yee, Birthwhistle and Geens. Jelle Genns was not able to participate in the individual triathlon due to a positive COVID test, but he will be able to compete in the relay. McDowell is also a good runner and he could allow the United States to get onto the podium, too. While Geens and Birthwhistle are excellent runners, I think they will be too far back to be able to use their kick to get their teams on the podium.
In my opinion, France and Great Britain will start the last leg together. If this is the case, Luis, who is a better swimmer and cyclist, will want to escape alone, or with another country such as Germany, Switzerland or the United States. He knows that if he starts running alongside Yee his chances of getting on the top step of the podium are quite low (even though Luis has a very good sprint). So I believe that Luis will start the race with a slight lead, which should be enough to secure the gold medal for France.
So here are my predictions for the relay:
- Great Britain
- United States
- New Zealand