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HUATULCO, Mex.— Tyler Mislawchuk successfully defended his World Triathlon Cup title from two years ago in Huatulco, Mexico by winning the final men’s race of the Olympic qualification period on Sunday morning.

The 26-year-old, who was the number-one ranked athlete in the deep men’s field, accomplished his mission in Mexico by notching the third World Cup victory of his career with a time of 53:09 in the challenging sprint distance test.

“This feels so bloody good. Me and Sharpie (Matt Sharpe) rolling out there together today was awesome. It was a statement day for sure and just feels great,” said Mislawchuk. “To be honest, whether I won or not today didn’t matter. I know I’m confident with where I’m at right now, but this just validates all of the hard work that we have put in.”

The Oak Bluff, Man. resident also won the last time he toed the line in Huatulco in 2019 – a breakthrough season where he went on to capture his first ever World Triathlon Series podium by winning the bronze in Montreal before going on to becom the first Canadian triathlete ever to win the Olympic Test event in Tokyo.

“I’ve trained so hard over the last 18 months. We emptied our souls training in Hawaii and I’ve not been home in 14 months, living out of a suitcase. I dedicate my life to this and everything goes into this so I’m very happy,” added Mislawchuk.

The 2016 Olympian came out of the water of the 750-metre swim on Sunday with the front group, just four seconds off the leading pace. Only 10 seconds separated the top-20 athletes.

After a clean transition he settled into a large group for the the 20-kilometre ride with his Canadian mates including Matt Sharpe (Victoria), Charles Paquet (Port Cartier, Que.), John Rasmussen (Hamilton), and Jérémy Briand (Sainte-Julie, Que.).

“Matt and I set the tone in the water and were able to control the pace on the bike. It was just a great day to see it all pay off,” added Mislawchuk.

With the Canucks tactfully working their way in the pack over the three laps, Mislawchuk climbed to the front of the large group of riders heading into second transition to set himself up for a strong run. After a clean second transition, Mislawchuk wasted little time throwing down the gauntlet, taking his position at the front when foot hit the pavement and never looked back. He pulled further away in the final lap and took the tape with a 14.50 run, leaving the rest of the field to battle for the final two spots on the podium.

“I was first on the run and then jut settled into my pace. After the first lap I was a bit ahead and kept looking back to see who was coming with me but nobody was there. I didn’t expect that and just decided ‘lets go,” said Mislwachuk, who proved he relishes the heat after nailing his race strategy in all three disciplines on a steamy morning in Mexico.

“It was super humid and hot. I could tell people felt it out there. Everyone suffers in the sport no matter who you are but for whatever reason my body responds well in the heat.”

Mislawchuk was joined on the World Cup podium by two athletes from Brazil. Manoell Messias finished 12 seconds back in second at 53:21. Miguel Hidalgo was third with a time of 53:22.

Canada’s Briand battled into the top-10, posting the ninth-fastest time at 53:40. Charles Paquet was 16th at 54:00, while John Rasmussen crossed the line in 27th at 54:35 and Sharpe was 41st (55:53) in the 59-man field.

Amélie Kretz Fights for Fifth in Women’s World Cup Race

Canada’s Amélie Kretz was rock solid in her final Olympic qualification race on Saturday evening in Huatulco.

Running on fumes after competing in her fourth race in five weeks in an effort to rack up points for Olympic qualification, the 28-year-old dug deep and threw down a gutsy effort to finish fifth with a time of 1:00:57.

“This is the end of a big race block with four races in five weeks. Today was a tough race but a good end to this block. I am hopeful it is enough, but will just keep my fingers crossed,” said Kretz, who posted two, top-six finishes in her gruelling stretch.

The Blainville, Que. Olympian shook off the fatigue of racing in four countries on three continents that included three Olympic distance tests in the jam-packed qualification period as a result of COVID to try and secure Canada its second Olympic spot by mixing it up with many of the top names in women’s triathlon in the swim, bike and run.

Kretz finished 33 seconds behind Denmark’s Albert Kjaer Pedersen who won with a time of 1:00:24. Kirsten Kasper, of the United States, claimed the silver medal with a time of 1:00:36. Austria’s Lisa Perterer rounded out the women’s podium with a time of 1:00:37.

Dominika Jamnicky, of Guelph, Ont., also enjoyed a solid Saturday evening race while grabbing the final spot in the top-10 with a time of 1:01:21. Emy Legault, of Ile Perrot, Que., ran into 14th spot of the sprint distance race with a time of 1:01:37.

Complete World Cup Huatulco Results:

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Chris Dornan

Triathlon Canada

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