Canada’s Tyler Mislawchuk didn’t make it three in a row at the World Triathlon Cup Huatulco today, but certainly acquitted himself in style with an excellent silver-medal performance behind Spain’s Genis Grau. For the Canadian it was proof that he is returning to top form after being sidelined by an Achilles tendon injury at the Olympics last year.
Brazil’s Miguel Hidalgo led the way through the swim before Slovakia’s Richard Varga sprinted by as they came to the beach to add to the long list of races in which he has led out of the water . Mislawchuk had a great swim and was fifth out of the water just five seconds behind. Brock Hoel and Aiden Longcroft-Harris were also able to make the lead group of 14 who managed to break clear at the start of the bike.
It wasn’t long, though, before the group was joined by another 10, and by halfway through the first of four laps on the bike there was a big group riding together, as is usual for the flat and fast Huatulco course. By the third lap the group had grown again to about 34 athletes with Canadians Mislawchuk, Hoel and Longcroft-Harris featuring prominently near the front. By the end of the bike the group had grown to over 50, setting up yet another 5 km road race for the medals.
“I took out the swim really hard. Miguel was right beside me – I know the class he has, he was in Leeds last week, so I was happy to let him lead,” Mislawchuk said after the race. “Rolled at the start with a few of us, but it wasn’t to be – this course doesn’t do so well for breakaways.
Two-time defending champion Mislawchuk drove the pace early, but couldn’t get clear of a big group on the run, setting up a tactical race for the medals.
“(It was a) bit of a strange race,” Mislawchuk said of the run. “It was kind of like a championship-style track race. I pushed the pace early for a bit and then realized there are 15 or 20 guys with us, so it was just tactics until the end. I got caught off guard going into the last corner. I didn’t know how many guys were behind us, but I had the inside line, and he (Grau) just got inside me by shuffling around. I expected someone to come from the outside. With 50 m left you look, but it was too late. I don’t know if I would have had the legs, but either way, he outdid me.”
Grau was able to kick by the Canadian to take the win in 53:48, with Mislawchuk finishing a second later (53:49) and Hidalgo rounding out the podium in 53:51. As he did last year, Mexio’s David Nunez finished one spot off the podium in fourth.
While he might not have taken a third straight win, Mislawchuk was encouraged that he was able to be in the mix after having to deal with the Achilles tendon injury that slowed him during the run in Tokyo last summer.
“After I tore my Achilles last year I wasn’t sure I’d ever be on one of these podiums again,” he said. “You never know in this sport when your last podium is, so I’m happy to be standing up here. It’s been a long road, but you never know when your last one is or your next one is, so I’ll enjoy this one.I am happy with the race. Thanks to my coach and my training group its been a good last few months. I love waking up and doing what I do every morning.”
Next up for the Canadian star will be the world championships in Montreal.
“I think I’ve only raced two WTCS events in the last three years because of COVID and injury, so I’m excited to be back at home,” he said. “It’ll probably be a bit of a shock to the system, the super-sprint eliminator format, but anytime I can line up to the start line healthy I’m a happy man.”
The other Canadian finishers included:
Brock Hoel, 16th, 54:23
Martin Sober, 24th, 54:44
Liam Donnelly, 25th, 54:44
Aiden Longcroft-Harris, 37th, 55:22
Filip Mainville, 50th, 56:23