T100 World Tour

No time to dwell on 2021, it’s all about the future for Taylor Knibb

Breakthrough star will not rest on her laurels as she bids to improve in 2022

News Director
Last updated -
T100 Triathlon World Tour
Redefining triathlon

What a year 2021 was for Taylor Knibb.

Her first full season out of college – and she ended it at #4 in the PTO world rankings.

It started with a pivotal win at WTCS Yokohama, which sealed automatic Olympic Games selection and was her first WTS/WTCS victory.

While seen by some as a surprise result, it shouldn’t have been as Taylor claimed three back-to-back World Championship victories between 2016 and 2018, winning the Junior (twice) and Under-23 crowns.

But it was what happened in a magical seven-week spell from the end of July to mid-September which really made the world sit up and take notice.

In summary:

So it’s no wonder that when we caught up with her and asked her to nominate her highlight, it’s not an immediate response.

But when the answer comes – and she’s incredibly bubbly and positive throughout the whole interview – there’s more focus on one of the rare races that didn’t pan out as she’d hoped, suggesting that reflecting on past glories isn’t something she sees much merit in.

“The whole WTCS season was a highlight, except for Abu Dhabi [in November], that wasn’t as great. But I think the fact I’m saying that about a fifth place shows the change in my expectations over the course of the year.

Taylor Knibb Collins Cup 2021
Taylor Knibb of Team USA in action during her race at the 2021 Collins Cup.

“It was a good race but it wasn’t a great race. But if you had seen my lead in to the 70.3 Worlds, let alone Abu Dhabi, you’d be like, ‘wow, why is she even on the start line?’

“So I think the WTCS season was a highlight, but then actually getting to do the longer course events, that was just more fun.”

Contrasting Tokyo results

She didn’t quite win everything – and that drive to improve is evident again when we ask about her Olympic experience, thinking she’d lead off on her silver medal in that epic Mixed Team Relay.

“Tokyo, that was my worst race of the season. I was 16th in the individual and that’s the worst race to have your worst result because it’s the one event that everyone at home follows.

“Some of my parents’ friends, they didn’t know I did triathlon pretty much beforehand. And now it’s like ‘oh, you got 16th in the race’.

“And I’m like, yeah, that race, I did get 16th, the one race everyone knows about and asks about and brings up. So it’s like, I get to relive that 16th a lot!”


Do the math

Little more than a week later she was a surprise entry at 70.3 Boulder, her first race at the distance – and she led off the bike before finishing second to Emma Pallant-Browne.

There was plenty of focus on the fact that in that race and the others highlighted above she wasn’t riding a TT frame but instead her regular Specialized road bike, World Triathlon legal clip-on bars and no disc wheel.

But she has a simple, practical response to the reason: “People ask me, why didn’t you get a TT bike between Boulder 70.3 and the Collins Cup?

“And I’m like, if you actually did the math, you’d realize how many days I was in a hotel room and wasn’t allowed to leave because we had quarantines in Montreal and Edmonton. Plus all the travel and everything else. There just wasn’t a lot of time!”

Taylor Knibb Trek Factory Racing 2022 (Photo credit: Kenny Withrow)
Taylor Knibb will have a new range of bikes in 2022 (Photo credit: Kenny Withrow)

With far better timing, she’s since become part of the Trek Factory Racing Team and has lots of shiny new bikes for 2022 and onwards – and plenty of training rides to adapt to them. They include the Speed Concept SLR and she’s incredibly enthusiastic when asked about early impressions.


Going with the flow

But that lack of free time actually proved an advantage from another perspective as the races came thick and fast.

“I think the fact that I didn’t really have much time to think probably helped because it was kind of like I was in constant contact with my coach (Ian O’Brien), and it was just what needed to be done and just get to the next weekend and then get to the next weekend. 

“But I didn’t go into that period knowing I was going to be doing all those races. Actually, I was only planning to do three and then hoping to get on the mixed relay team.

“When I boarded the plane to Tokyo, I was planning to do the individual race, Montreal and Edmonton, that was it.

“But then I was chosen for the relays. That was great. And you’re not going to turn that down!

“But if I’d walked into that period thinking I was going to do everything then I don’t know if I would have been able to handle it because it’s the mental aspect as much as physical.

“So it was good that I was halfway done before I even added the Collins Cup. You just have two more, including the Collins Cup, so just go have fun with it.”

Learning experience

We’ll focus in the second part of the interview on what Taylor has learnt from that incredible schedule – as she’s the first to admit that by the time she got to the 70.3 Worlds, she was “wrecked”.

ST GEORGE, UTAH - SEPTEMBER 18: The Women's Pro Race Winners; first place Lucy Charles-Barclay of England (middle), second place Jeanni Metzler of South Africa (left) and third place Taylor Knibb of The United States (right) pose after the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship on September 18, 2021 in St George, Utah.
Third place at the 70.3 Worlds. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

It didn’t stop her from a third place but she says: “Yeah, that was a bit tougher. I mean, I got back from the Collins Cup and I was just wrecked. If you think about it, what does the racing do to your body?

“And I think I had a few easy days, and then I tried to get back into training and think I had one, maybe two full days of actual, like, what I would consider a normal training day.

“It was sleep in as late as possible and call me [her coach] to say how you feel.

“I don’t know how I got to the 70.3 worlds, the start line, the finish line. But I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity because this is all taken with consideration that I had a huge consistent block of training going into Yokohama and then going into the Olympics because there weren’t any other races.

“So it’s like I was able to do that because I hadn’t raced for so long.”

Clearly it will be a different story this year and we’ll delve into her schedule, hear how she’s relishing the best vs. the best ethos of the PTO, find out who she sees as her main rivals – plus why the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028 are just as much of a focus as Paris 2024.

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  
Discover more
TRI-FIT Geo Coral women's tri suit
TRI-FIT GEO Women’s Tri Suit Review – How does it fare in our quest for the ultimate long course kit?
TRI-FIT women's sleeveless tri suit
5 race day mistakes that are sabotaging your triathlon times (and how to fix them)
Kate Auld riding on an indoor trainer
Rouvy vs Zwift: our indoor cyclists put them to the test
Professional triathletes on the bike course at Challenge Almere-Amsterdam
Fastest triathlon courses: Best IRONMAN, long course and middle distance races for a sure-fire personal best
Patagonman swim start
6 tips for taking on an Xtreme triathlon from a PATAGONMAN champion
latest News
RaceRanger installation PTO European Open 2023 Ibiza
IRONMAN announce new partnership with draft detector RaceRanger for the 2024 season
Steve McKenna got the win at the 40th edition of IRONMAN New Zealand.
Australian star Steve McKenna shares emotional message after IRONMAN New Zealand win
Chelsea Sodaro takes the tape at the 2024 IRONMAN New Zealand.
Former IRONMAN World Champion delighted after bouncing back to first full distance win since Kona
World Triathlon Cup Miyazaki 2023 Gwen Jorgensen
Olympic gold medalist praises Boulder training environment ahead of WTCS season opener
Chelsea Sodaro PTO Asian Open 2023 run [Photo credit: PTO / Darren Wheeler]
IRONMAN New Zealand results: Steve McKenna and Chelsea Sodaro take the tape in Taupo
Story to tell?
Share interesting & inspirational stories with our news team
The SBRX Group

Proudly elevating endurance sports through content, products & services

Share to...