Mislawchuk pins hopes on a Huatulco hat-trick as World Cup racing heads to Mexico
Twelve months ago, the World Triathlon Cup Huatulco was the last opportunity for athletes to score precious Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualification points and sharpen their skills on Oaxaca state’s steamy Pacific coast. Fast forward a year, and Paris 2024 points are already on the line, the start lists have some new faces ready to prove themselves, and another gripping Olympic build up begins.
A longstanding event on the World Triathlon circuit since 2008, Huatulco’s sprint distance course consists of a one-lap, 750m swim in the bay of Santa Cruz beach, before the four-lap, 20km bike course crosses the town with two long, straight middle sections bookended with tight turns, finishing with a two-lap run into Santa Cruz Plaza. A gentle incline and descent aside, it’s flat, it’s fast, and the forecast for the region looks stormy as the athletes go through final preparations.
You can watch all the men’s action from Mexico unfold live and direct on TriathlonLive.tv from 8am local time/3pm CEST.
It was here that Tyler Mislawchuk reignited his Olympic hopes with a second successive win on the course last June, only to again be haunted by injury in Tokyo. The course clearly suits the Canadian, who brushed off the humidity to outrun even the flying Brazilian Manoel Messias, and a third straight win would be just the foundation the 27-year-old needs to build into his next campaign.
Third last year and proving himself to be in red hot form again so far in 2022 is another Brazilian, Miguel Hidalgo. An exceptional swimmer to whom the sprint distance and flat bike look perfectly suited, coming through the stern test of a tough WTCS Leeds course to score a career-best 6th place finish showed again what the 21-year-old is capable of, and that is precisely why he has the honour of wearing the #1 this time around.
Another powerful South American swimmer is Diego Moya. Still only now emerging out of the U23 bracket, the Chilean produced an excellent Tokyo 2020 campaign to land a top 30 finish, and has been dominating the Americas Triathlon podiums since late 2021.
The home nation will again be well represented by the mighty and experienced trio of Crisanto Grajales, Irving Perez and Rodrigo Gonzalez, though it was David Nunez who pulled out the best performance for the home crowds to cheer in 2021, finishing just off the podium in fourth.
Sergio Baxter will want to pick up where he left off at the end of 2021, as he returns to the blue carpet for the first time since his bronze in Tongyeong. Having first moved to England to train alongside the Brownlee brothers in Leeds, his return to Spain as part of Roberto Cejuela Anta’s group with Fernando Alarza and Roberto Sanchez Mantecon underlined his huge ambition to join the top table of triathlon, meaning he will be one to watch again here.
Japan’s Jumpei Furuya and Ren Sato spearhead Japan’s medal hopes, teammate Genta Uchida also putting together some strong performances in recent months including the Asia sprint title at the start of June.
Justus Nieschlag is back on the start list of a World Triathlon event for the first time since his brilliant Arena Games series in April and May. Always powerful and explosive over short distances, it will be fascinating to see how this first taste of racing in Mexico suits the 30-year-old.
A strong Austrian quartet of Alois Knabl, Leon Pauger, Martin Demuth and Philip Pertl could have a big impact on proceedings here, while Slovakian super swimmer Richard Varga is sure to be pushing the early pace in the water.
Former national Junior Triathlon Champion and track star Brent Demarest makes his first World Cup start for the USA, now under the auspices of coach Ian O’Brien and looking for some experience at the top level after Americas Cup success in Punta Cana last month.
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