Canada’s triathletes enjoyed one of their best days at a World Cup in the last decade with Tyler Mislawchuk and Matt Sharpe storming into the top-five in their final tune-up race for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in New Plymouth, New Zealand on Sunday.
The Canadian women also captured the world’s attention. Amelie Kretz was eighth in the women’s sprint race in New Zealand, while teenager, Desirae Ridenour, got the day off to a golden start by winning the Junior Oceania Championship race.
Mislawchuk, of Oak Bluff, Man., chalked up his career-best World Cup finish in fourth. The 2016 Olympian missed the podium by one second, clocking a time of 58:25.
“I showed up today to win and came up a little short, but I’m super happy with the effort put forward,” said Mislawchuk. “This is a great sign of things to come in two weeks time (at the Commonwealth Games) on the Gold Coast.”
Victoria’s Sharpe also came up two strides short of getting onto the World Cup podium for the second time in his career, finishing fifth at 58:26.
“I’m super happy with my race today. I was able to finally compete in all three disciplines,” said Sharpe. “My prevailing swim stroke helped me come out of the water in fourth place, and from there I just tried to be as tactical as possible on the bike and stay safe for the run.”
The two Canadians came out of the 750-metre swim at Ngamotu Beach near the front of the pack where they settled into a group of nine riders on the bike. With Australia’s Ryan Bailie putting the pedal down on the slick, 20-kilometre technical ride, where he broke away on the second lap, Mislawchuk and Sharpe helped control the chase group to set themselves up for a run at the podium.
“Coming off the bike I tried to be aggressive in transition. We quickly formed a large pack in the first kilometre onto the run and then I just tried to hang on for dear life,” added the 26-year-old Sharpe, who is part of Triathlon Canada’s National Performance Centre with Mislawchuk under coach Jono Hall. “Tyler, and our training partner Kevin McDowell, really pushed the pace at the end and I was really on the ropes.
“A few hundred metres from the line I was sitting in fifth and tried to push for the podium, but I just couldn’t make up the gap. It was a proper race today with nobody giving an inch.”
Australia’s Declan Wilson quickly reeled in his teammate, Bailie, on the five-kilometre run course and was then able to hold off a hard-charging group of seven that was being led by Canada’s 23-year-old Mislawchuk until the final kilometre. Running at a torrid pace until they hit the blue finishing carpet, the Canucks didn’t have the extra kick to jump onto the podium.
“I really wanted the win. I got passed by two guys with 100 metres left. There are no medals for fourth and trying hard though,” added Mislawchuk.
Declan Wilson was first across the line in a time of 58:20. Sam Ward, of New Zealand, won the silver medal with a time of 58:22, while American Matthew McElroy topped the Canadians for third place at 58:24.
John Rasmussen, of Guelph, Ont., was the only other Canadian on the men’s start line and finished 28th at 1:01:13.
Meanwhile, Canada’s Amelie Kretz posted her second-straight top-10 finish in a stacked field of run specialists. The 24-year-old from Blainville, Que., stopped the clock at 1:03:57 for eighth place.
“It wasn’t my best start as I face planted running into the water, but I worked hard to make my way back to the front in the swim and I got out of the water in the back end of the lead group,” said Kretz.
Coming out of the swim in 15th spot, Kretz grinded through the first lap of the bike to get herself back into the lead group on a challenging course that was made more difficult with rain coming down.
“The course suited my strength with a big hill so I just made sure I was in the front end of the group up the hill to cover some attacks,” added Kretz. “The rain made it a bit dangerous, but I rode for the conditions and stayed safe out there.”
Struggling for postion in second transition, and also with trying to get her helmet off with frozen hands, Kretz was forced to play catch up once again after heading out onto the five-kilometre run course at the back of the lead group.
“I just chased hard on the run and finished eighth. It was a stacked field here so I’m happy with my result and early season form,” added Kretz. “I didn’t rely on anyone to close the gaps today, trusted my fitness and was able to react well during the critical moments.”
American Kirsten Kasper took control of the race, running her way to a golden time of 1:03:20. Nicole Van Der Kaay, of New Zealand, claimed the silver at 1:03:28, while Claire Michel, of Belgium, snagged the bronze at 1:03:37.
Emy Legault, Ile Perrot, Que., did not finish the race.
Desirae Ridenour Wins Gold at Junior Oceania Championships
Earlier in the day, it was Canada’s Desirae Ridenour back on top of the junior international podium, winning the gold medal in the Junior Oceania Championships in New Plymouth, New Zealand.
The 18 year old from Cowichan Bay, B.C. ran away from a field of 40 athletes – largely from New Zealand and Australia – to claim her first title of the young season. Ridenour posted a golden time of 1:07:43.
The young Canuck shared the podium with two Kiwis. Hannah Knighton was the next best finisher at 1:07:46, while Ari Graham finished well back in third at 1:09:00.
A developing athlete working with coach Jono Hall at the Natioanl Performance Centre in Victoria, Ridenour enjoyed a breakout year in 2017 where she captured the world’s attention with two international junior titles in addition to a silver medal in the junior category of the Duathlon World Championships. The 2017 Junior Canadian Champ also won three Canada Games titles.
Tate Haugan, was the lone junior Canadian male to race. The Fort St. John, B.C. resident placed 15th at 1:03:28.