To find out how Lionel Sanders fared in the final itself, read our full report.
The top four in the two heats plus the next two fastest times qualified for the showdown at the Parc Olympique Sports Centre – so effectively 10 from 20 on the male side.
Impressive power on the bike
The big question mark over Sanders, who was dropping down to the shortest format of the sport for the first time, was how far back his swim would leave him on the very first leg – and the answer was 28 seconds behind leader Aurelien Raphael, who clocked 2:03 for the 200 metres, just a second off his own all-time record.
Sanders was 10th and last at that point – and 20 seconds off those in third, fourth and fifth.
So from then on it was a question as to whether he could make his strength on the bike and run translate into a berth in the final.
And he started to eat into the deficit in fine style, clocking a quickest heat time of 5:09 on the first 4km bike portion. He followed that up with a solid 2:46 1km run, all of which left him fifth at the halfway stage.
It was then a case of action replay as the athletes repeated the legs in the same sequence in the second half of the heat, starting in pursuit order so they all knew exactly where they stood.
And Sanders made no mistake, making the decisive move on the bike as he went even quicker this time with a 5:06 to take 23 seconds and more out of all his rivals.
That effectively sealed his spot and by the end of the run he stopped the clock in a seriously impressive 23:18, with Jeremy Briand first in 23:09, last year’s Arena Games Munich winner Raphael second at 23:15 and Dan Dixon third on 23:16.
It also underlined the effort ‘No Limits’ had put in beforehand, with his latest YouTube video showing him getting his weight down from 74.2kg to 70.8kg in the hours before Friday’s weigh in, which determined the settings on Zwift for the bike.
There was less good news for Sanders’ fellow Canadian long-distance star Jackson Laundry as he just missed out after finishing sixth in his heat in 23:47.
You can relive the action via the embed below.
All to play for
It promises to be a closely-fought final with just 10 seconds between the fastest six qualifiers, with uber swimmers Chase McQueen (23:16) and Henri Schoeman (23:19), making a welcome return to the sport, the clear top two in the earlier heat.
The pathway to the final was far less onerous for the women, with 10 of 12 going through.
The two to miss out were Maryna Kyryk and Sarah-Lee Hevey.
By far the quickest two were the heat winners – Gina Sereno [who we interviewed here beforehand] in 26:15 and Sophie Linn on 26:18. On that form they’ll be vying for the win as next best was 26:43. The line-ups in full are below – and here’s how you can watch the finals unfold.