The rollercoaster ride that has been the first half of the 2019 WTS season continues its journey around the globe this weekend with the fifth stop of the year: the Groupe Copley World Triathlon Montreal.
This year sees a brand new sprint-distance Elite course on Montreal Island, the athletes emerging from Lawrence River and out onto a highly technical and tight city-centre ride before the 4-lap run reaches its finale back amongst the quayside’s crowds.
Race coverage gets underway at 16:30 on Saturday and as ever, you can follow all the action as it happens on TriathlonLIVE.tv
Twelve months ago, this year’s race number one Henri Schoeman delivered another of his signature pack-leading swims to exit the water almost half a minute ahead of eventual winner Mario Mola (ESP), and both athletes will again do battle as key ingredients of another WTS men’s start list packed with potential champions.
Silver in Yokohama and fourth place in Leeds earlier in the month showed Schoeman was back to some of the best form of his career. The current Series no.2 sits behind only Vincent Luis in the season’s half-way standings, but with the Frenchman absent in Canada, a new Series leader is likely by the end of the weekend.
Mola is one of three hugely experienced Spaniards among the first ten names on the list with 176 WTS starts and 80 podiums between them. Fernando Alarza and Javier Gomez Noya have been displaying the kind of consistency so far in 2019 that before this season had been the defending champion’s hallmark and while neither has finished outside of the top 10 in a WTS race so far this term, both would love to record a first World Series win of the season in Montreal.
Having grabbed his first win on one of the toughest courses on the circuit at the start of June, Jacob Birtwhistle will have the self-belief to attack from the outset. The Australian has one of the most potent kicks around and knows if he is in touch out if T2 he can hoover up many of his rivals over the 5km run, just as he did over double that distance in Leeds.
Hungary’s Bence Bicsak has had a memorable first half of the year, scoring a first WTS podium in Yokohama following seventh place in Bermuda, and his lightning pace and skill on the bike, exactly where the new-look race could be won and lost, is likely to be matched by Jonas Schomburg. The German put in a brave early burst in Leeds over the 10km run before being swallowed up by the pack and will be keen to register another top 10 finish at the highest level.
Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt hasn’t been at his very best yet this year but finished second on the standard-distance course here 12 months ago. Home favourite Tyler Mislawchuk finished 8th last year and has racked up two World Cup golds in 2019 to give himself the winning habit.
Richard Murray revels in a sprint distance course and will continue his return to full fitness after an injury-delayed start to the season, while the likes of compatriot Wian Sullwald, Matthew Hauser (AUS) and Stefan Zachaus (LUX) have all put in strong World Cup performances in recent weeks they will want to translate on the WTS stage.
Race coverage begins from 16:30 local time on Saturday 29 June and you can once again follow all the action on TriathlonLIVE.tv and via the hashtag #WTSMontreal
For the full start list, click here