Super League Triathlon racing is fast and furious, with the unique event formats ensuring that every second counts. The first race of the 2022 SLT Championship Series in London is guaranteed to embody the fast and furious racing style that means time is of the essence.
Performance data goes hand in hand with shaving seconds off swim, bike, run and transition splits. Nobody knows this better than Graeme Acheson, the co-founder and CEO of Sports4Cast, who are working alongside SLT.
We caught up with him ahead of the premier race of the season this weekend, where Acheson provided the lowdown on the favourites, an insight into the team tactics and single discipline standouts, plus his predictions for the podium in both the individual and team events.
Top five men
Alex Yee – Whilst the 2021 SLT Championship Series Champion won’t be racing the full series this year, Yee will be wanting to finally get that win in front of a home crowd that eluded him in last year’s race. The Olympic silver medallist and Commonwealth Games champion is the favourite heading into Sunday, but will need to be on his A-Game to get the better of his close rival and friend Hayden Wilde.
Hayden Wilde – Wilde finished second best to Yee in Birmingham at the Commonwealth Games this summer, so will be hoping to go one better on British soil this time around. He is predicted to have the fastest bike split in London, but on the decisive run leg the numbers are in Yee’s favour. Wilde produced the fastest run leg last year in London with the assistance of a short chute, whilst his time for the full lap was the joint-fastest with Yee. If he comes off the bike with Yee, the win could be decided by a fraction of a second, so the stakes on every single part of his game are high.
Jonny Brownlee – After having to pull out of the Commonwealth Games following a bike crash in WTCS Leeds, Brownlee got the second half of his season underway last weekend at the Bergen World Cup, where he finished 16th in his first race post injury. The Yorkshireman, an old hand at SLT racing, will be banking on his race day intelligence and consistency across the board to put himself in contention for the podium, whilst hopefully picking up some points for the fan-owned Team Cheetahs along the way.
Tyler Mislawchuk – Mislawchuk will be flying the flag for Team Scorpions in the men’s race and it will be interesting to see what the Canadian Olympian will be able to produce on race day. Mislawchuk is one of the only athletes who might have the leg speed to stay with Wilde and Yee if he comes off the bike in contention and a return to form for the WTCS medallist would be a welcome sight.
Vasco Vilaca – The Super League product will be keen to score some invaluable points for Team Rhinos in London, whilst also demonstrating the kind of ability that saw him take secnd at the stand alone ITU World Championships in Hamburg back in 2020. The young Portuguese athlete sits behind Hayden Wilde as the secnd favourite for the fastest bike split and could use that kind of power to put himself onto the podium alongside his Rhinos teammate Alex Yee.
Skybet have priced up Sunday’s race and the one big difference of opinion to Graeme concerns Matt Hauser, who they make third favourite. Yee tops their market at 11/10, a fraction ahead of Wilde at 5/4.
Top five women
Georgia Taylor-Brown – The 2021 SLT Championship Series champion is expected to begin her title defence with a win on home soil. The recent Commonwealth Games silver medallist is tipped to have the fastest bike split of the day, but she’ll hope that her across-the-board consistency will be enough to take her to victory. Last year in London, technical issues on the bike hampered GTB’s race, so she’ll be hoping that for herself and for Team Scorpions that everything will run smoothly this time round.
Beth Potter – Team Sharks will be hoping for a big race from the Scottish Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, who also won the Arena Games here in London in 2021. The fastest pure runner in the field, with a 5km personal best of 14:41 and a 2016 Rio Olympic berth to her name, the Scot is surprisingly not predicted to be the fastest runner this weekend. Will she be able to prove the data wrong and run to victory?
Cassandre Beaugrand – Team Scorpions will be relishing the women’s race in London, as their star athletes Beaugrand and GTB look likely to both finish on the podium. It will be interesting to see what the team tactics of manager Chris McCormack are on race day and how he’ll manage his two contenders in the best interests of the team. A short chute from the swim for Beaugrand could see McCormack making a tough call, but the Frenchwoman will want to prove that she deserves the backing of the team with a strong race on Sunday.
Sophie Coldwell – Could Team Cheetahs’ leading contender Coldwell give the fans something to roar about with a podium in London? Coldwell is the fourth favourite, but with Beaugrand showing intermittent form across SLT races in last year’s series, could make it a British sweep of the women’s podium. Coldwell is expected to feature strongly in the swim, which backed up with a short chute could see her in contention to snatch the victory from under the noses of the favourites.
Taylor Spivey – Leading the charge for Team Rhinos is the American Spivey, who will be hoping to use her SLT experience and strength across all three disciplines to her and her team’s advantage. The number of points Spivey can pick up will be crucial for Team Rhinos and their manager Ronnie Schildknecht in London, as they look to avoid a similar fate to their last place finish in the team standings in 2021.
Again Skybet’s prices underline Graeme is right on the money with his predictions; close between GTB, Potter and Beaugrand at the top of their market, with Coldwell and Spivey just behind.
Individual and Team Predictions
Having crunched the numbers, Acheson gave us his final predictions for the first race of the series tomorrow.
In the men’s race, Alex Yee is set to pip long-time rival Hayden Wilde for the win, holding a 21.1% chance of taking the win, with Wilde a fraction behind at 18.2%. According to the data, Jonny Brownlee is the next best, with the Yorkshireman, who had to miss the Commonwealth Games through injury, holding a 10.2% chance of victory.
However, whilst the data does predict a victory for Yee, SLT racing is unforgiving. If Wilde was to swim as well as he did at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, where he opened a gap on Yee, his phenomenal biking prowess, reflected by his 37.4% chance of having the fastest leg, could lead to an upset for the hometown favourite Yee.
In the women’s race, Georgia Taylor-Brown is the clear favourite, with a 29.5% chance of victory. Next is Beth Potter at 21.7%, ahead of Cassandra Beaugrand at 18.3%. Beaugrand, however, is tipped to have the fastest swim (28.2%) and run (26.4%) legs in London. Her swim-run prowess may prove to be the difference in the team standings, as the Team Scorpions athlete is set to be the highest individual points scorer on the women’s side, with 19.3 points predicted.
Finally, the data indicates a win for Team Scorpions, who are looking likely to pip the Cheetahs with 88 expected points to the fan team’s 74 points. The Sharks are expected to take third ahead of the Rhinos, with 62 points to 60 points, whilst the Eagles unfortunately look to be bringing up the rear, with just 40 expected points overall.
In terms of the overall series, Graeme says: “On paper the Scorpions look the best, but it really depends on how well the captains can get their athletes to target the specific discipline points on offer.
“You want athletes to target specific sections of the race, and almost sacrifice the rest of their race, which is very unusual for triathlon. Last year Tim Don managed to get his Eagles team doing this, and he won despite not having the best team ‘on paper’.
“The Eagles this year just look a little thin to me, although I have been proven wrong before … I think the Sharks look good – big guns in Potter and Wilde – but also the fan team Cheetahs look good.”
Make sure to check out the action on Sunday as the SLT Championship Series 2022 gets underway in London and keep a close eye on the Stats Hub on the SLT site.