This Saturday will be the long-awaited Ironman 70.3 Oceanside. This triathlon opens the 70.3 race season in North America, and many of the best triathletes will be present. This race is particularly interesting since it is an opportunity to see what kind of shape many of the favourites for the upcoming Ironman World Championship in St. George, Utah in just over a month.
The women’s starting list is very strong and includes Daniela Ryf, Taylor Knibb, Paula Findlay, Holly Lawrence, Chelsea Sodaro, Heather Jackson, Ashleigh Gentle, Skye Moench and Jackie Hering.
The men’s side includes Lionel Sanders, Alistair Bronwlee, Ben Kanute, Jason West, Rudy Von Berg, Sam Appleton, Jackson Laundry, Matt Hanson, Andreas Dreitz, David McNamee and Bart Aernouts.
Here are my Top 5 predictions for women and men:
- Ashleigh Gentle: After her victory at Clash Miami only a few weeks ago, Ashleigh Gentle is, in my opinion, the big favorite for the win. Gentle is a very complete triathlete and has virtually no weaknesses. The only time during the triathlon where she can possibly lose some time is during the bike – Taylor Knibb and Daniela Ryf are über bikers. However, even if she loses some time on the bike, she has the running skills to catch up.
- Taylor Knibb has started at only a few 70.3 triathlons, but at every one she has delivered an incredible performance. In her first 70.3 in Boulder she finished second, just a week after competing at the Tokyo Olympics. She also finished third at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in St. George, on a road bike! Knibb is now sponsored by Trek and will therefore have a time trial bike at Oceanside 70.3. It will be very exciting to see the lead that she might create during the bike.
- Daniela Ryf was not at her best at the 70.3 world championship in 2021, where she finished 11th. We are used to Ryf fighting for victory, or at least for a place on the podium. Following this performance, Ryf said he needed to take an “OFF” period to rest. This rest seems to have paid off as she recently finished second at 70.3 Dubai behind Laura Philipp. Although she was not able to run at Philipp’s pace, Ryf still showed that she has regained a good level of form. That’s why I believe she will be able to sneak onto the podium, especially if Knibb and Ryf work together on the bike to create a good lead.
- Paula Findlay is excellent in all three disciplines, which she demonstrated it in her victory at the PTO Championship in 2020. Despite dealing with injuries for much of last year, Findlay won the delayed version of this race last October. I believe that Findlay has a good chance of getting on the podium, but due to the uncertainty about her level of form at the moment, I put Findlay in fourth position in my Top 5 predictions.
- Holly Lawrence: It’s impossible not to include this former 70.3 world champion (2017) in my top 5. When she is in form Lawrence has a very good chance of getting on the top step of the podium. However the caliber is very high for the 2022 edition of this year’s race. I don’t think her level of cycling is enough to ride alongside Knibb and Gentle. On the other hand, if she can maintain a small gap with these two triathletes, she has a good chance of not only finishing in the Top 5, but even getting on the podium.
- Alistair Brownlee: I thought long and hard about whether to put Sanders or Brownlee at the top of my top 5 predictions. I think it’s the type of course that is to Brownlee’s advantage. First, Brownlee is an excellent swimmer and he will be able to have a good lead over Sanders after the swim, and he will be able to start the bike alongside excellent cyclists including Ben Kanute and Rudy Von Berg. Also, Brownlee has better technical skills than Sanders, which gives him an advantage on the Oceanside course.
- Lionel Sanders has racked up several podiums and wins at Oceanside 70.3. Also, Sanders seems to be at the top of his game. He has been training for several months now with his new coach Mikal Iden, and has significantly changed the way he trains. We’ll see this weekend if all this work has paid off!
- Rudy Von Berg is a very complete triathlete and he may come out of the water alongside Brownlee and Ben Kanute, which will give him a big advantage over his competitors. Von Berg is also an excellent cyclist and therefore has a good chance of finishing the bike in first position, or at least in the top three. His running level may not be as high as Brownlee or Sanders, but he has a good chance of staying in the top three.
- Jason West finished second at Clash Miami a few weeks ago and is therefore one of the favourites for the podium. I think it will be a hot fight between Rudy Von Berg and Jason West for the final spot on the podium, since these two triathletes have a fairly similar triathlete profiles.
- Ben Kanute has won the last two editions of Ironman 70.3 Oceanside (2019 and 2021) and recently finished third at Clash Miami. Just like Rudy Von Berg, we can expect Kanute to get out of the water at the front of the race. He is also a very skilled and powerful cyclist, so he may finish the bike in a very good positioning have a very good chance of getting on the podium.
In short, it will be a very exciting triathlon to watch! The triathlon takes place on Saturday, April 2 at 9:00 AM ET and will air on Outside Watch.