Triathlon at the Olympics – The Final Test

Triathlon at the Olympics – The Final Test

Last weekend was the final test for triathletes in preparation for the Olympics and for some a final opportunity to qualify. Who’s who in triathlon showed up in Cagliari (Italy) for a dramatic final, but the story had been building earlier this month.

Mixed Team Relay

Last week in Huatalco, Mexico, countries had a final opportunity to qualify a team directly without having to rely (entirely) on individual rankings.

Norway (without Blummentfelt) won and secured a team slot and so did the Netherlands in a nail biting sprint with Hungary. There was also heartbreak for South Africa when their first athlete crashed on the bike and could not continue.

Here’s the full list of 16 countries that will compete in the Mixed Team Relay at the Olympics:

The Title Defenders

The current Olympic Champions Flora Duffy and Kristian Blummenfelt have qualified again for the Olympics with a chance to defend their titles. Though the three years between have played out very differently for these two super athletes. They both returned to racing in Yokohama for the first time three weeks ago.

Kristian Blummenfelt made history to become Ironman World Champion in the same year as his Olympic victory, and continued to be extremely successful at long distance triathlon. The PTO Asian Open in Singapore was his last victory before he directed his focus back to short distance triathlon for the Olympics. Switching back from long to short distance triathlon is extremely difficult, so all eyes were on Blummenfelt when he lined up for the first time again in Yokohama. Missing some leg speed he finished a ‘disappointing’ 10th place. In Cagliari last week a wheel change ruined his chances for a top-ranking. None the wiser, Blummenfelt remains a real contender for Olympic gold, but seems to still have some work to do before Paris. 

Kristian Blumenfelt, PTO Asian Open:

Flora Duffy travelled a rockier road. After winning another Triathlon World Title in 2022, she has been sidelined with a knee injury. It has been a race against the clock to recover from this potential career ending injury to get ready for Paris. Yokohama was her first race back, and the tears of joy for her 7th place showed how hard the journey has been. 8th in Cagliari in a stronger field was an improvement, and after a sluggish start of the run she kept pace with the leaders, albeit 30 seconds behind. The clock is still ticking. Will she be a contender for gold again?

Flora Duffy, WTS Yokohama:

The Contenders

With two months to go to the Olympic race in Paris, a lot can still change. Nevertheless, last weekend’s race in Cagliari showed who’s already on form.

In the women’s race it was Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA) who nailed a confidence-boosting win, Lisa Tertsch (GER) added her name to short-list after showing impressive running form and Beth Potter (GBR), although not a match in the sprint this time, is expected to be in the mix in Paris. Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) could not compete for the win yet, but was also within striking distance and looks to be a podium contender again (She won silver in Tokyo). USA’s super star ,Taylor Knibb, finished 2nd in Yokohama, but had to settle for a disappointing 11th in a much stronger field in Cagliari. Her engine clearly still needs some fine-tuning, but, then, it has been a busy month. In between Yokohama and Cagliari, Knibb became national champion at Individual Time Trial cycling and qualified for the Olympics at this discipline as well!

Beth Potter and Cassandre Beaugrand, WTS Cagliari:

The men’s race in Cagliari was a 2-horse race between Alex Yee (GBR) and Hayden Wilde (NZL). The bronze and silver medalist in Tokyo left no doubt about who are the frontrunners for Paris. Yee had the better of Wilde in the sprint this time. The other athletes are licking their wounds, literally! Reigning Triathlon World Champion, Dorian Coninx (FRA) broke his elbow and wrist in a crash in Yokohama. His prospects for Olympic success are in serious doubt. Fortunately, France has two more contenders in Le Corre (6th in Cagliari) and Bergere (4th in Yokohama).Morgan Pearson (USA), Matt Hauser (AUS) and Czomor Lehmann (CZE) will have drawn confidence from their win, second (Yokohama) and third (Cagliari) this month, but the race in the men’s field is wide open. 

Hayden Wilde and Alex Yee, WTS Cagliari:


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