It is wide open - the Olympic Triathlon! It could be an absolute cracker... both races have the ability to surprise but I doubt we will see any completely unexpected happen. I have updated this with less than a week before the event. Sadly Javier Gomez won't be racing since he fell off his bike in training. Alistair Brownlee has shown super form both in Leeds and in Stockholm - obviously this affects my prediction! But actually it could also affect the dynamic of the whole race. So who is it going to be? Who will one of the six olympic medals in Rio? Personally, I think it is wide open. The men's race has at least seven who could win it if they are all fit. The women's field is even more unpredictable than that. So here is my take at a very early stage in the season on who I think the favourites are and if they will get a medal. Its going to be a sea swim, which has the potential to be slightly choppy. The bike course is going to be technical with a hill in the middle... the hill may offer the opportunity to weaken the field but probably won't be a decisive launch pad. My suspicion is, there will be a swim / bike breakaway. Will it stay away? Who knows... it may be less likely now that Gomez is not going to be in it. Mainly as the Spanish will have a reason to chase and he is usually one of the big hitters in the front group on the bike. If it does... then that means if you aren't in it you are going to have to fly on the run... if it does not stay away then its a 10 km foot race... So working through the list of names I'll try and describe who is where.
The Men's Olympic Triathlon race will be a really hard and fast from the gun!Mario Mola: The in-form spaniard. Currently leading the world rankings and one of the fastest runners in the sport. He has two weak links though. 1. his swim, whilst not bad will unlikely get him out in the front pack. This means he's chasing the race. 2. he doesn't do huge amounts of work on the bike. He can... but often you will see him sitting and waiting... on this course I don't think he can do that. Jonathon Brownlee: Bronze medallist from London. On his day he can swim with the best, ride with the best and run with the best. He hasn't really set the stage on fire this season so far... but I think he'll be in amongst it in August. He has proved that he can hurt himself in that final km... just like he did on the Gold Coast. If he has a weakness he can push a little too early and his race finesse can let him down in the finale... think world final sprint with Javier Gomez a couple of years ago. If fit... watch out for Jonathon... he'll be there hunting for a medal. Javier Gomez: I previoously wrote: write this guy off at your peril. Sadly I have had to write him off for 2016! Fernando Alarza: The other spaniard... he's also in form, having won the sprint race in South Africa. He can swim with that all important front pack and he is very strong on the bike, but I think he will struggle on the hill which may leave him tired for the run. Over 10 km, I think he won't quite have the legs to go with Gomez or fit Brownlees...
Alistair Brownlee:The gold medalist from London. I believe he wants this one just as much. BUT... he's coming back from injury and hasn't shown super form... yet. Even though he has just smashed the field in the ITU race in Leeds... the second half of his run was a little suspect... He has proven year on year that he can get himself fit for the big ones. He also has ice in his veins, he can push himself harder and further than most... if he's fit he'll be right there. Weakness: can't sprint. Vincent Luis: He's strong, he is fast over the sprint distance... he can run with the best... I think he'll be there coming off the bike but this may be an olympics too soon for this guy. He probably hasn't got the endurance to get in the medals but... if the bike leg splits up and he's running from the front... watch out for him. Aaron Royle: Australia's best bet (although Ryan Bailey may have something to argue about there). Aaron is consistently top five in ITU races which proves he could be a force to be reckoned with. I think he's going to need everything to play into his hands to get a medal. I would love to see him there with 1km to go but again I am not sure he can go with Gomez, the Brownlees or Mola... Richard Murray: IF he is swim fit for a sea swim over the Olympic distance then He could be among the medals. Richard is coming back from a broken collar bone sustained in the Gold Coast. He has shown form (and a bad temper) in the race in Hamburg but that was only over the Sprint distance. I can't really see any major shocks in the men's race. What I mean is I can not see an outsider getting in amongst the medals. The best triathletes in the world know how to race, they also know how to race the big events. The Olympic Triathlon is the biggest race for these guys and this is going to be a real race... hard swim, hard bike and then harder still on the run. My prediction:
- Alistair Brownlee
- Mario Mola
- Richard Murray
The Women's Olympic Triathlon race could be an absolute cracker!
Gwen Jorgensen:Seemingly unbeatable... except she's not. Gwen is exceptionally fast on the run. If they all come off the bike together then yes, I suspect Gwen will win this... but its not as simple as that is it? Jorgensen's swim has improved massively and she consistently comes out of the swim in the top half... not always in the front group though. If there is chop on the water, she's likely to be in the second group on the bike... there are some super strong swim / bikers in the field. I suspect Gwen might have a tough time getting back up to the lead group... there is no where to hide on this course. Non Stanford: If anyone can run with Jorgensen then it is Non. She is a former ITU world champion, she is in shape and she can ride and run with the very best... but if there is a weak link then its her swim and this could be Non's undoing. Flora Duffy: Possibly the gutsiest racer on the circuit. Who watched the Cape Town event this year or the Leeds ITU race? (PS. I am still trying to work out what the two British girls in that pack were doing... I know they were following orders but... if they had all worked, the three of them could have been on the podium). Anyway back to Flora and she could lead out the swim, its very likely she will drive the bike leg and then as she has proved she can hang really really tough on the run. Helen Jenkins: Ok, I am British so I would love to see Helen win this one. However, I actually think she can, IF she can stay healthy and fit right up until the big day in August. Helen can swim with the best, she is one of the strongest cyclists on the ITU circuit and can run with Gwen Jorgensen. Helen proved that on the Gold Coast earlier this year. If it comes down to who wants this more in the last 1km... I'm backing Helen Jenkins. There is a real prospect of a swim / bike break and if Helen and Flora and a couple of others get away it really will be game on. Andrea Hewitt: This superstar Kiwi athlete could produce something magical. Anybody in the sport will know what she has had to contend with in the lead up to the games... although very few of us can imagine how she has done it. I would love her to grab a medal. Andrea is in great form, she consistently finishes top five in ITU races and as I say to my athletes, "If you can get top five, you have a shout at the podium, if you have a shout at the podium... you could win it!" Vicky Holland: I really don't feel confident that Vicky will get a medal. I think she is going to be right there off the bike but she can not run with Gwen or Non. Can she swim well enough to get into that swim / bike break? If she can then she could get a medal. Personally, I think Vicky has to come out with the first swim group. If not then I think it unlikely that she will get a medal. We'll have to wait and see how the race plays out. Barbara Riveros: This little Chilean enigma has been top five in the last few races she has raced. She has experience. She knows how to race... she has a strong run... its very possible that she could produce something and come away with a medal. I think top five, but it really depends on which Barbara Riveros turns up!
Nicola Spirig:The winner from London. Make no mistake she will be ready to rock in August. She is definitely in form but has not raced much at this distance since her crash in Dubai. Can she get her swim strong enough to get amongst it on the bike? She has one of the best coaches in the world in Brett Sutton... I believe she will be close... Lets not forget some of the others who on their day could produce a medal winning performance: Sarah True, Ashleigh Gentle or Anne Haug... the race for the minor places is going to be mega-intense but I am happy with my picks... I hope we don't see a straight foot race. Hopefully the likes of Flora Duffy and Helen Jenkins up front on the swim / bike this has the potential to be olympic triathlon classic! My prediction:
- Helen Jenkins
- Flora Duffy
- Gwen Jorgensen
TO WATCH THE OLYMPIC TRIATHLONYou can get all the information on how, what, when and where to watch the Olympic Triathlons HERE. Paul Jones Paul is a British Triathlon Level 3 Coach based in Western Australia. If you are looking for some assistance in your training for 2016 and beyond then check out F4L Triathlon Coaching's website for more information.
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