We are rapidly approaching the middle of October, so the 2021 triathlon season is quietly drawing to a close, right? Not so fast!
After 18 months of COVID-related cancellations and rescheduling, the triathlon calendar has been producing some incredibly high-quality racing over the past few months – and there is still plenty to look forward to before 2022.
We’ve done a little forward planning and picked out just five of our highlights to look forward to in the Pro triathlon world between now and the end of 2021.
We could easily have doubled the number of races, which is great news for you – there is still plenty to come!
IRONMAN California – October 24
A brand new race on potentially a very fast course, with the main pre-race storyline building towards a Gustav Iden vs Jan Frodeno showdown.
Frodeno is unbeaten since 2017 and the three-time IRONMAN World Champion. Iden has won the most important middle-distance race in each of the last three seasons. Jan has done everything over the distance, this will be Gustav’s first attempt and the PTO has them ranked #1 and #2. Frodeno (currently #2) is not a man who settles for silver easily.
Changing of the guard? Master and apprentice? A new King or a reminder that the Frodo reign is far from over?
That’s why you should follow this one as there are plenty of questions to be answered.
(Note – IRONMAN California is a Pro Men only race – the corresponding Pro Women race is IRONMAN Florida on November 6).
IRONMAN 70.3 Cascais – October 24
With a $30k total prize purse and a relatively modest $4k first prize, IRONMAN 70.3 Cascais in Portugal – on the same day as IRONMAN California – might seem like a left-field pick for this list. But check out the start list (clue: #9), and you’ll see why from a British perspective at least this is one to keep an eye on.
Cascais should be the IRONMAN 70.3 debut of Jonny Brownlee, the Olympic gold, silver and bronze medallist – and perhaps give a clue as to the next stage of his career.
While Mixed Relay success in Tokyo has certainly left the door open to the possibility of Paris 2024, Jonny is certain to be mixing up his racing over the next 12 months at least to keep things fresh and assess his options.
With the likes of Bart Aernouts (BEL), Magnus Ditlev (DEN),
George Goodwin (GBR), Casper Stornes (NOR) and Jan Stratmann (GER) on the start list, it is unlikely to be a soft start to half-iron distance racing for Brownlee – who did race the slightly shorter Challenge Daytona in December 2020.
The women’s race in Portugal might well see significant British podium presence, with Nikki Bartlett, India Lee, Lucy Hall and Kimberley Morrison among those set to race.
World Triathlon Championship Series Abu Dhabi – November 5
Normally in hibernation by now, the WTCS series still has one stop remaining in 2021, with the rescheduled event in Abu Dhabi. The Yas Marina venue will also host the Grand Final in 2022.
As well as the Elite race (with points carried forward, along with those from Hamburg, to the 2022 Rankings Season), the Paratriathlon World Championships – which didn’t take place at all in 2020 – have been added to the schedule, meaning two back-to-back World Championship events for paratriathletes in the United Arab Emirates.
While the start lists for the event are still provisional and will doubtless change significantly before being finalised, could we see Lucy Charles-Barclay make her second WTCS start after her debut fifth place in Leeds? Ranking points to secure race starts – and possibly attract the attention of Commonwealth Games selectors – could make Abu Dhabi a logical choice.
IRONMAN Cozumel – November 21
What happens when the reigning Olympic champion takes on his first IRONMAN? That’s the hook for this race, as Kristian Blummenfelt will make his full-distance debut in Mexico.
There are likely to be at least three full-distance races to follow for ‘Big Blu’ over the next 12 months – St. George (May 2022), SUB7 Project (summer 2022, exact date TBC), Kona (October 2022) – and Cozumel will be both a learning experience and a first clue as to how he is likely to perform for circa eight hours, rather than two.
CLASH Daytona – December 4
There is no PTO Championship or $1million prize purse on offer at the ‘World Center of Racing’ this year – but the CLASH of the titans headline we gave this race still stands. In terms of depth of field, it looks set to be the strongest race remaining in 2021.
We should see this one broadcast live too – and for those of us in Europe, that should make excellent Saturday afternoon / evening viewing!
Both fields are stacked – but the women could well make the headlines here, with eight of the top 10 in the current PTO World Rankings set to race, headed by the new IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion, Lucy Charles-Barclay.