After an Achilles tendon injury forced him to withdraw from the relay at the Olympics, Tyler Mislawchuk returned to World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) racing today in Abu Dhabi with an excellent sixth-place finish. Fellow Canadian Charles Paquet took 34th.
As he has virtually every race he’s done this year, France’s Vincent Luis managed to pull clear in the water, coming out of Yas Marina after the 750 m swim in 31 degree water with Hungary’s Mark Devay on his feet. Those two were able to stay clear through the first of the five laps on the bike, but as the bike progressed more and more of the chasers were able to bridge up to the front – by the third lap there were 17 out in front. In that group Luis and Devay were joined by the likes of Hayden Wilde (NZL), Mislawchuk, Jelle Geens (BEL), Bence Biscak (HUN), Pierre Le Corre (FRA), Vasco Vilaca (POR) and Antonio Serrat Seoane (ESP). Paquet found himself in the chase group that was losing time to the lead group every lap – by the time the bike was done the chasers were almost 45 seconds behind the lead group.
It was Vilaca who led the men into T2, but it didn’t take long for Luis to power his way to the front again, setting the pace early on the run that quickly split things up. That move set up a group of eight including the Frenchman along with his countryman Le Corre, Mislawchuk, Geens, Serrat Seoane, Biscak, Wilde and Vilaca.
Starting the second of two laps of the run it was Wilde who really started to push the pace and only Geens, Luis, Biscak and Serrat Seoane were able to stay with the Kiwi. Wilde’s move was short lived, though – the 34 degree air temperature seemed to get to him and he dropped back. Geens and Luis started to really push the pace with Biscak hanging on. With just under a kilometre to go Geens made a huge move, pulling clear of the other two men and driving towards the finish. Luis would make a charge a few hundred metres later, but wasn’t able to close the gap and the Belgian was able to stay clear to take his second WTCS win in 52:21. Luis would finish five seconds later for second, with Bicsak rounding out the podium in 52:29.
Le Corre had a huge last km to separate himself from Mislawchuk and run his way past Serrat Seoane for fourth, with the Canadian taking an impressive sixth-place finish in his comeback race.
For triathlon fans it’s hard not to feel good about Geens’ win in Abu Dhabi – the Belgian wasn’t able to compete in the individual race at the Olympics because of a positive COVID test (he was able to compete in the relay event).
“I am happy for Jelle – he had an even worse summer than I did,” Luis said after the race.
You can find results from today’s race here.