Sunday at 5:30 pm EST, the men’s individual triathlon will start at the Olympic Games, with the women heading off on Monday at 5:30 pm. We haven’t had many opportunities to see the triathletes compete over the last two years, which will make this race even more exciting given that we don’t know the level of form of several athletes.
The swim course is divided into 2 laps, 1 longer lap of 950 m and a second shorter lap of 550 m. Afterwards, the triathletes will have to complete eight 5 km laps on the bike. The course is technical and we can definitely expect several attacks. Afterwards, the triathletes will complete four 2.5 km laps for the run. The main factor will be heat. Over the next few days we’ll find out who has done the work to acclimatize well to the heat of Tokyo in recent months.
My top 5
5 Katie Zaferes
4 Georgia Taylor-Brown
3 Summer Rappaport
2 Maya Kingma
1 Flora Duffy
For the women’s race, I expect a small group to form at the end of the swim and the start of the bike and, since the course is technical, I do not believe that the peloton will succeed in catching the lead group. At the exit of the water, the triathletes in front will be: Flora Duffy, Jess Learmonth, Maya Kingma, Taylor Knibb, GeorgiaTaylor-Brown, Vicky Holland and Summer Rappaport.
These triathletes are used to getting out of the water in the lead and working hard on the bike. If there is a good cohesion in the group they can maintain and even increase their lead over the peloton.
Among this group, they are all able to get on the top step of the podium, but Flora Duffy is, in my opinion, the best runner after a very difficult bike. Duffy has been hampered by injuries in recent years, but during the first years of the last Olympic cycle Flora Duffy was dominant. This year she finished fourth at the WTCS in Leeds, England, but she had the fastest run.
Maya Kingma also has a very good chance of climbing to the top step of the podium. This year she finished third at WTCS Yokohama and won WTCS Leeds. Kingma has no weaknesses, but she doesn’t have as much experience as Flora Duffy, that’s why I predict that Duffy was going to finish first and Kingma will take second.
The Americans and the English have a very good chance of dominating the top five. Young Taylor Knibb won WTCS Yokohama thanks to an excellent bike ride. However, the caliber at the Olympic Games is so high that I would be surprised if she could do that again. Her compatriots, Rappaport and Zaferes, also have a very good chance of getting on the podium, or at least making the top five. Zaferes hasn’t had a very good 2021, but she was dominant in 2019, so if she gets back to her 2019 form she has a very good chance of performing well.
5 Gustav Iden
4 Morgan Pearson
3 Vincent Luis
2 Alex Yee
1 Tyler Mislawchuk
Tyler Mislawchuk is probably the triathlete who performs best in the heat and that’s one of the reasons why I predict he’s going to win the race. Tyler has won several World Cup races in hot conditions – most recently in Huatulco – and he also won the Tokyo Test Event in Tokyo in 2019. In the last two years Tyler hasn’t taken part in many races due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but he has won his last two races.
Mislawchuk will have the help of Matt Sharpe, who will play the role of domestique, just as Colin Jenkins helped Simon Whitfield win the silver medal at the Beijing Olympics. Sharpe is a very good swimmer and will be able to help Mislawchuk on the bike, either to join a group at the front or just to help him stay ahead of the pack. Towards the end of the bike, Sharpe will give everything to ensure that Mislawchuk finishes the bike at the front of the pack and thus starts the race alongside his competitors.
However, although Mislawchuk is a very good swimmer, he is not as good as some of his competitors including Vincent Luis, Henri Schoeman, Jonathan Brownlee and Marten Van Riel. In addition to being excellent swimmers, that group are very good cyclists, too, and could escape on the bike. They have a lot to gain by being ahead off the bike so they don’t have to start running alongside the speedy runniners including Alex Yee, Morgan Pearson and Jacob Birtwhistle. Belgium’s Jelle Geens is also an excellent runner, but unfortunately he will not be at the start due to a positive COVID test.
We must also not forget Gustav Iden and his compatriot Kristian Blummenfelt. I think they can both perform very well, especially if they manage to escape by bike.
In short it’s a race not to be missed!