Canadian pro triathlete makes his picks for this weekend’s Ironman World Championship
Antoine Jolicouer Desroches predicts the top five men and women for this weekend's world championshipPhoto by: Nils Nilsen/ Clash USA
This weekend we will see the Ironman World Championship in St. George, Utah. This year we will see two Ironman World Championship races – this one in St. George (the 2021 Ironman World Championship which was postponed to 2022) and the one in Hawaii in October. Since the last world championship was in 2019, this is a race that is much anticipated.
Given that this race takes place earlier in the season and on a different course, we could see some upsets and surprise winners. For example, this is the perfect opportunity for a triathlete who does not tolerate the heat and humidity of Hawaii very well to have a very good result, or even win the race. Indeed, even if it can be hot in St. George, it is still not nearly as hot and humid as Kona! Another important factor to consider is altitude. St. George is located at an altitude of 2,700 feet (800m), which is not particularly high, but it can still be an important factor to consider. Indeed, the majority of triathletes have had to adapt their training to be ready to compete at this altitude. For example, Norway’s Gustav Iden and Kristian Blummenfelt trained at the training center in Sierra Nevada, Spain, which is located at an altitude of 2,320 m.
Related: Can Lionel Sanders win the Ironman World Championship?
Unfortunately several triathletes will not be present for this edition of the world championship. Among the absentees are:
- Jan Frodeno who has a partial tear of his Achilles tendon
- Lucy Charles-Barclay who has a stress fracture in one hip
- Javier Gomez and Joe Skipper who both had Covid and therefore would not have been in great shape on D-Day
- Laura Philipp who announced this week that she has tested positive for Covid
- Patrick Lange who had a bicycle accident a few months ago and injured his shoulder
Here are my top 5 predictions
Since Laura Philipp and Lucy Charles-Barclay will not be at the start of the world championship, my favourite to win the race is Anne Haug. Haug won the last edition of the Ironman World Championship, and I believe she will be able to repeat that feat this weekend. Haug is by far the best runner on the starting line and that’s where she will have to make the difference.
Matthews is probably the triathlete on the starting line with the least triathlon experience, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a chance to get on the podium or win the race. Matthews started her career as a professional triathlete in 2019, but in a short time she demonstrated her great potential. At the beginning of the 2022 season she won Ironman 70.3 Lanzarote by beating Anne Haug by more than 4 minutes!
Related: Kat Matthews to replace Lucy Charles-Barclay on the Sub8 Project
The American triathlete has had great success over the Ironman distance in recent years, winning the Chattanooga and Boulder Ironmans in 2019 and the European Ironman Championship in 2019.
The silver medalist at the 2012 Olympic Games (she finished in a sprint with Nicola Spirig) is one of the best cyclists on the starting list. The St. George course is an ideal route to allow her to take the lead on the bike and try to create a lead over her competitors, especially Anne Haug.
I couldn’t help but include Daniela Ryf in my predictions for the top 5. Although recently she has not been as dominant as before, if she has regained her level of form of recent years she could not only sneak into the top 5, but possibly even get on the podium.
It would be very surprising if Iden or Blummenfelt did not find themselves on the podium this weekend. In fact, it is highly likely that these two triathletes share positions 1 and 2. However, it is very difficult to predict who between these two Norwegians will climb to the top of the podium. These two triathletes have demonstrated that they can excel as much on the Sprint, Olympic, 70.3 distance as on the Ironman distance. The reason why I believe Iden has a better chance of winning this race is his great cycling ability, especially on the climbs. That, in my opinion, is where he can make a difference.
I expect a hot fight between Iden and Blummenfelt. These two triathletes will push each other on the bike and run. In 2021 he won the Cozumel Ironman in a time of 7:21 (with a down-current swim) and completing the marathon in 2:35.
Alistair Brownlee has not been as dominant in long-distance triathlon as he was on the ITU circuit. On the other hand, this Olympic champion from 2012 and 2016 is definitely one of the favourites for this weekend. Also, the St. George course is a course that suits him, particularly since he is an excellent climber on the bike. He demonstrated this in 2017 at the 70.3 St. George by leading from the beginning of the bike to the finish to win the triathlon ahead of Sanders and Kienle.
The course and the weather of St. George suit Lionel Sanders very well. His chances of winning a world championship are much higher in St. George than in Hawaii, in my opinion. On the other hand, to do this he will have to beat the two Norwegians, which is not easy! Just like Sam Long, Sanders will have to catch up after swimming and he will have to redouble his efforts on the bike. This extra work on a bike is likely to affect his marathon. On the other hand, with Sanders nothing is impossible!
Long was recently hit by a car during a bike workout. So we can wonder how this will affect his performance at the end of the week. On the other hand, if this incident did not affect his preparation too much he has a very good chance of finishing in the top 5. The problem is that he will have to redouble his efforts on the bike to catch up after the swim. On the other hand, if he can collaborate on the bike with other triathletes to join the front of the race, he has the ability to run a very fast marathon.