ABU DHABI—Canada’s Tyler Mislawchuk broke through a string of bad luck that plagued the Canucks to finish 11th at the World Triathlon Series opener in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
With all four Canadians hitting the pavement in men’s and women’s racing, the 24-year-old from Oak Bluff, Man., bounced back from a crash of his own to finish 11th for the second-straight year in Abu Dhabi after completing the triathlon sprint distance race in a time of 52:27.
“I swam and road very well, but unfortunately the whole race field came together,” said Mislawchuk.
A strong 750-metre swim loop in YAS Marina, Mislawchuk was in the thick of it on the 20-kilometre technical ride on the bike, featuring hair pin turns that sent many of the world’s best to the pavement. It appeared Mislawchuk was going to escape the destruction after staying on two wheels throughout the ride until the unthinkable happened early in the five-kilometre run when he fell hard to the ground after stepping on a discarded water bottle at a wet and slippery aid station.
“On a day with a little misfortune, I am still happy to have been able to compete for a top-10 position,” said Mislawchuk, who had a bloodied knee crossing the finish line. “I was gutted to see all of my teammates and friends go down in crashes today.”
Spain’s Mario Mola won the men’s race with a time of 52:00. Alex Yee, of Great Britain, wasted little time making his mark on the international stage, finishing second in his World Triathlon Series debut with a time of 52:03. Spain’s Fernando Alarza ran to the bronze medal with a time of 52:12.
The rest of the Canadians were forced to try and process a day of misfortune.
Mislawchuk’s two teammates were also in contention with the large pack on the bike before they were tossed to the road.
Alexis Lepage, of Gatineau, Que., plummeted to the ground after getting tangled up with a rider who went down in front of him. Losing significant time on the field, the 25-year-old was able to get back on his bike and finish 45th with a time of 57:13.
Victoria’s Matt Sharpe had the swim of his life that positioned him perfectly near the front of the pack on the bike with the top-five athletes. The 27-year-old lost his back wheel on a tight corner early in the second of five 3.78-kilometre loops that sent him to the pavement as well, and out of the race.
“That was a missed opportunity for myself. The swim and my positioning proved to be too perfect. I snapped my derailleur hanger and could not continue,” said Sharpe. “I’m exceptionally frustrated, but feeling like I have reached a new level after a good winter of training. I have plenty of race opportunities left in the season, and I look forward to making the most of them.”
It was the same story for the Canadians in the women’s race. Joanna Brown, of Carp, Ont., was in the mix with the best names in the sport after hopping onto her bike out of the first transition before hitting the deck hard on the second corner, and was also not able to finish.
“Joanna crashed pretty hard and is shaken, but we know she is a tough, young woman and will be back,” said Jono Hall, Triathlon Canada’s National Performance Centre head coach.
“What a day. I think I am in a bit of shock trying to process it all.”
The Americans grabbed the top-two spots on the women’s podium. Katie Zaferes clocked a golden time of 55:31. Taylor Spivey finished in second at 55:57.
Jessica Learmonth, of Great Britain, won the race for the bronze medal with a time of 55:06.
The World Triathlon Series continues in Abu Dhabi on Saturday with the mixed relay event.
Complete Men’s Results: https://bit.ly/2SSDrwK
Complete Women’s Results: https://bit.ly/2TpVAHl
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