Olympic stories ready to unfold as World Triathlon Championship Series gets underway in Yokohama

by doug.gray@triathlon.org on 10 May, 2024 09:30 • Español
Olympic stories ready to unfold as World Triathlon Championship Series gets underway in Yokohama

After the comings and goings of Abu Dhabi, the 2024 Series will finally begin in earnest in Japan on Saturday, with WTCS Yokohama the stage for one of the most hotly anticipated races of recent times.

Not just because it is the first time we have seen the likes of Dorian Coninx, Kristian Blummenfelt and co since that dramatic title win in Pontevedra, and not just because these will be the first Series points on the line of this year. We are also now firmly inside the final month of Olympic Qualification and there are huge consequences out there for the athletes mounting their Paris 2024 campaigns.

It is a familiar course that awaits 40km south of central Tokyo, the two-lap 1.5km swim followed by a fast, flat 40km bike and 10km run to the medals. There are stories within stories to unravel for those athletes still chasing their starting place in Paris, and you can watch it all unfold from 1pm local time on TriathlonLive.tv

The Tokyo 2020 trio Coninx, Bergere and Luis ride again

If it feels like France have been building to their moment in the Olympic sun, the prospect of fielding the men’s world champions for four of the past five years should be enough to give even the likes of Kristian Blummenfelt pause for thought.

For Coninx, victory in the Pontevedra Championship Finals was the crowning glory in a year in which he also sampled podium life in Paris with bronze at the Test Event in August. With his Olympic start place all but assured, this is the time to start pushing the boundaries once more and seeing just how far he can take this impressive run of consistency.

One of the few to regularly better that level of performance has been Leo Bergere. An incredible ten individual Series podiums since Tokyo, the unassuming 27-year-old will be hungry to pull out another swim-bike-run like his title-winning show in Abu Dhabi 2022.

Making his long-awaited Series return will be Vincent Luis, the 2019 and 2020 World Champion who can out-swim and out-bike anyone on his day, and knows exactly how to close out a race in the big-pressure situations. After the silver-medal super-sprint indoor World Cup return in Lievin, Luis’ Olympic-distance form will have tongues wagging once more.

Vilaça aims to improve on 2023 bronze

It was here that Portugal’s Vasco Vilaça made it back-to-back Series podiums for the first time 12 months ago to set up a major world title challenge. Finals-day illness prevented his crowning moment from coming to fruition, before bouncing back to secure a first World Cup gold in Rome. Off the back of two weeks of altitude camp and ready to shake things up again.

Australia’s Matthew Hauser also delivered his best season to date in 2023 and looked to be coming to a simmer at just the right time with a brilliant first Series gold in Montreal off the back of silver in Yokohama. That finish here saw off the likes of Coninx, Bergere and Vilaça and besting that rapid 29m29s run will be a big target this weekend.
Hauser Vilaca Yokohama

Olympic Champion back on the beat

In 2021, Kristian Blummenfelt was at the very height of his powers, a win at WTCS Yokohama setting him on course for a history-making Olympic and World title double. Those achievements gave him a taste for what had been previously deemed impossible. Now, three years on, nobody would dare to write the Norwegian off, and there are few that can dig as deep as the 30-year-old when the needle is already in the red. The gap out of the water could be crucial.

Among the more experienced names that have the ability to deliver a podium-threatening run both here and in Paris are the Canadian Tyler Mislawchuk, Belgium’s Jelle Geens and USA’s Morgan Pearson. Chasing their best form and already booked in to start their first Games, Csongor Lehmann (HUN) and Miguel Hidalgo (BRA) will be ones to watch.

Paris contenders lining up for date with destiny

Looking to join Lehmann on 30 July are three Hungarians hoping to stick potentially two extra spots for their country; Bence Bicsak, Mark Devay and Gabor Faldum. Standing 24th, 25th and 31st respectively in the rankings, it is Devay who could make the most headway with only six out of a eight second-period races currently counting towards his tally.

Jonas Schomburg did his hopes of joining Lasse Luhrs and Tim Hellwig in Paris the power of good with a World Cup silver in Chengdu, Lasse Nygaard Priester also still on a quest knowing a first WTCS podium is probably required to achieve it. For the British team it is a case of experience versus youth as Jonathan Brownlee assesses his prospects of making Olympic history at a fourth Games and one of the fastest 10km runners out there, Hugo Milner, looks to make an impact on his first WTCS start.

Brandon Copeland, Luke Willian and Jacob Birtwhistle are the Australians in the hunt to join Matt Hauser at the Games, and a podium for Matthew McElroy, Darr Smith, Seth Rider or Kevin McDowell would ensure their start for the USA alongside Pearson.

A little over 100 points is all that separates the Spanish trio of David Castro Fajardo, Sergio Baxter Cabrera and Alberto Gonzalez Garcia, knowing a top 30 ranking at the end of May would guarantee Spain, and potentially them, the third men’s slot on 30 July.

WTCS Yokohama
11 May, 1pm local time

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Related Event: 2024 World Triathlon Championship Series Yokohama
11 May, 2024 • event pageall results
Results: Elite Men
1. Morgan Pearson USA 01:42:05
2. Matthew Hauser AUS 01:42:12
3. Luke Willian AUS 01:42:20
4. Léo Bergere FRA 01:42:26
5. Charles Paquet CAN 01:42:30
Results: Elite Women
1. Leonie Periault FRA 01:52:28
2. Taylor Knibb USA 01:53:04
3. Emma Lombardi FRA 01:53:08
4. Taylor Spivey USA 01:53:25
5. Kirsten Kasper USA 01:53:34
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