Sprint-distance triathlon action returns to the blue carpet this weekend with the fourth stop of the World Triathlon Championship Series in Montreal. Full start lists that include Olympic and World Champions will be bringing the spectacle to the streets of the Canadian city for a fast and furious race on Saturday followed by a Mixed Relay on Sunday. Everything is ready for the 7th edition of the Groupe Copley World Triathlon Championship Series Montreal, the only North American leg of the 2023 World Triathlon Championship Series.
The Elite women will be the first to toe the start line on Saturday June 24, 11.30am local time, the men going out at 1.30pm. It all starts with a 750m swim in the calm water of the Old Port, before a 20km bike ride of six laps of 3.6 km each, to round-up the day with a 5km run along the same route as the bike course from the Grand Quai to de la Commune and McGill Streets, and back to the Grand Quai, where the finish line awaits.
Wearing the golden number one reserved for the current World Triathlon Series Leader will be USA’s Taylor Spivey, who has had a solid season so far, grabbing a bronze medal in WTCS Abu Dhabi and WTCS Cagliari and finishing in fourth place in WTCS Yokohama, but the American is looking for what would be her first ever Series win, an achievement that until now has eluded her. Spivey is one of the strongest in the USA team and lining up alongside her in Montreal will be Taylor Knibb, Summer Rappaport, Kirsten Kasper and Erika Ackerlund also wearing the stars and stripes uniform.
Knibb, whose power on the bike is always impressive, already knows what it takes to be on the podium in Montreal, and after her solid victory on the 70.3 Boulder only two weeks ago, and signing for the Trek Cycling Team, is eager to prove that she also is in contention for the Olympic cycle that will finish in Paris next summer.
But the women’s field in Montreal is stacked with talent and horsepower. The British team is lining up their best medal hopefuls in Montreal, with Georgia Taylor-Brown, Sophie Coldwell and Beth Potter all ready to race this weekend, and each of them having won one of the three previous stages of the Series this season. While Coldwell decided to skip Cagliari to focus on a long training period ahead of Montreal, Potter and Taylor-Brown have been training in Europe at altitude in the lead up to this race, and the three look in great form.
While for the American and British women Montreal forms an important step on their path to the Olympic Test Event in Paris this summer, the French athletes have decided to skip the race to focus on preparations for the second half of the season. The only exception from the French Army is Leonie Periault, who finished in fifth place in Montreal last year and is looking forward to redemption after some disappointing races at the beginning of this year.
Another one to keep an eye on will be the reigning European Champion, Jeanne Lehair (LUX), who has had an impressive season so far, with a 12th place in Yokohama and a top 5 in Cagliari. Her run seems to be top-notch, and it will be interesting to see how she performs over the sprint distance.
Montreal is always a great venue for the fast swimmers like Vittoria Lopes (BRA), Zsanett Bragmayer (HUN) or Summer Rappaport (USA), but the long, steep run to the first transition can be challenging to maintain a gap on the lead.
But the podium fight will be ferocious considering the fast runners that are lining up this Saturday. Rosa Maria Tapia Vidal (MEX) lands in Montreal after her second place in Yokohama and a fourth place in Huatulco World Cup last weekend, and alongside her will be her teammate Lizeth Rueda Santos, also incredibly fast in Huatulco. Laura Lindemann (GER), Lena Meissner (GER), Natalie Van Coevorden (AUS) or Luisa Baptista (BRA) can never be discharged when it comes to a fast run.
And enjoying the cheers of the local crowds will be Amelie Kretz, Dominika Jamnicky and Emy Legault (CAN), all of them on track to secure some valuable Olympic qualification ranking points.
Wearing the men’s #1 in Montreal will be one of the most consistent athletes so far this season: Vasco Vilaca. The young Portuguese has a great opportunity this weekend to not only get back the World Triathlon Championship Rankings leadership that he held for a few weeks before WTCS Cagliari, but also to step for the first time on top of a Series podium. His second place in Abu Dhabi and third in Cagliari have put him in a great position to fight for the overall Championship this year, and he has a proven record of great performances over the Sprint distance, so worth keeping an eye on him this Saturday.
Even though Alex Yee (GBR), Hayden Wilde (NZL), Leo Bergere (FRA) and Dorian Coninx (FRA) won’t be racing this weekend having chosen to focus on the upcoming Sprint & Relay World Championships in Hamburg and the Paris Test Event, the field in Montreal is filled with talent, and some of the fastest athletes will be ready to seize the opportunity to grab valuable points both for the Series rankings and also for the Olympic Qualification rankings.
Among them, Australia’s Matthew Hauser has shown great form already this season, and if the race comes down to a running one, he will be hard to beat. But if that is the case, you can not discount athletes like Jelle Geens (BEL), Jonathan Brownlee (GBR), Manoel Messias (BRA) or Jawad Abdelmoula (MAR), all of whom have at least one WTCS podium under their belts, or one of the running sensations of the season, Spain’s David Castro Fajardo. The young Spaniard, nicknamed “el toro” (the bull) outran Brownlee in a sprint finish to claim the European title less than a month ago, and only a few days ago managed to outsprint Tyler Mislawchuk to claim victory at the Huatulco World Cup.
Montreal will see a number of good swimmers, with Kenji Nener (JPN), Hauser, Marten van Riel (BEL) or Jamie Riddle (RSA) likely to take the lead in the first meters of the race, but if they don’t manage to open a gap in the water, we could see a big pack of athletes managing the 20km bike together.
The likes of Brownlee, Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR), Gustav Iden (NOR) and Jonas Schomburg may indeed look to break that pack, but if it all comes down to the final run, it will be worth to keep an eye not only on the fastest athletes on paper, but also on the local hero, Tyler Mislawchuk, who will surely count on the support of the crowds and is looking for his second ever WTCS podium, in exactly in the same venue where he got his first in 2019.
You can check the start list here, and watch the race LIVE and on demand on TriathlonLIVE.tv.