To the wire: The men’s 2022 title contenders and how they can become World Champion
In the wild world of triathlon, it’s often better to avoid making pre-race predictions. Across the three disciplines, stacked start lists and the pressure cooker that is a Championship Finals, anything can happen.
With that in mind, here are the headline numbers that could determine the outcome of the men’s 2022 World Triathlon Championships and conclude what has been one of the most hotly-contested title run-ins the Series has seen.
Currently spearheaded by Hayden Wilde and Alex Yee, of the 149 men who have started a WTCS this year, mathematically speaking there are nine names on the Maurice Lacroix Rankings who could still win the 2022 world title. Realistically, it would take a monumental incident to create the room needed for Vasco Vilaca (POR), Pierre Le Corre (FRA), Lasse Luhrs (GER) or Antonio Serrat Seoane (ESP) to make up enough points to leapfrog the favourites.
Wilde eyes the biggest prize
Two men stand at the top of the tree heading into Abu Dhabi and need little introduction to anyone with half an eye on the 2022 WTCS Series. Hayden Wilde (NZL) and Alex Yee (GBR) have produced fireworks all year and both could become the youngest world champions in the Series era since Alistair Brownlee won the first title in 2009.
But only Wilde has destiny in his own hands. Heavy weighs the tactical balancing act behind the knowledge that a win or silver on Saturday would see him clear 5,000 points – a total no rival can hit - and ensure his country its first World Champion since the great Bevan Docherty.
Gold would also see the 25-year-old’s World Triathlon season earnings soar past the $170,000USD mark.
For Yee to win the title, he will need to put at least one person between himself and Wilde at the finish and to be ahead of Leo Bergere (FRA) and Jelle Geens (BEL), currently sitting in third and fourth in the rankings.
That combination, plus a top 10 place, would be enough to take the likes of Vincent Luis, Serrat, Luhrs out of the equation and see him become the first British male champion since Jonathan Brownlee in 2012.
Bergere and Geens ready to pounce
He may never have won a race at this level, but if Bergere was to deliver his first ever WTCS gold in Abu Dhabi, the world title can also be his should Wilde finish outside of the top five and Yee outside the top three.
Were Geens to win, as he did so here at the tail end of 2021, he would need Bergere to finish lower than third, Yee lower than 7th and Wilde lower than 8th to be crowned Belgium’s first ever World Triathlon Champion.
Throw in a new course, the heat of the UAE, a resurgent Vincent Luis and returning Norwegian duo of 2021 champion Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden, and the potential influences on the race outcome are many and varied.
Luis was himself World Champion in 2019 and 2020 and was back to his best most recently in Bermuda. Given how unlikely it is that he will win a third title this year, the next person he’d most like to see crowned is surely teammate Bergere.
Buckle up, this is going to be intense.
Men’s World Triathlon Championship Finals Abu Dhabi
Saturday 26 November from 3pm local time (midday CET)
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