TYLER Mislawchuk is on a roll.
The 26-year-old from Oak Bluff earned his second consecutive race title with a first-place finish at the Triathlon Cup Long Beach Sunday morning.
Mislawchuk, ranked seventh in the world and Canada’s top medal hope in men’s triathlon at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, also won the World Triathlon Cup event in Huatulco, Mexico on June 13.
"I would say everything went according to plan, which doesn’t happen much in racing," said Mislawchuk via telephone from Long Beach, Calif.
In Long Beach, Mislawchuk set the table for his winning time of 52:49 by emerging from the water first with a time of 9:11.
"I was trying to simulate swimming as hard as I could at the start, which I’ll have to do in Tokyo and got out of the water first, which isn’t super common for me (because) I wouldn’t consider myself a swimmer," said Mislawchuk. "So a good day in the water and then a solid day on the bike, kind of a pretty big group formed."
Mislawchuk edged second-place finisher Aram Peñaflor Moysen of Mexico by four seconds. American Matthew McElroy was another four seconds back in third place.
The Long Beach event was contested over the sprint distance, which includes a 750-metre swim, 20 kilometres on the bike and a five-kilometre run. The Olympic distance is double the sprint distance.
Mislawchuk completed the cycling leg in 26:56 followed by a time of 14:47 in the run.
"I was actually went out a bit calmer this time so I could finish stronger, which we all know Tokyo will be a closer race at the finish -- so different than Mexico," said Mislawchuk. "I kind of went out a little bit smoother so I could have a battle at the end, which I ended up having with 500 meters to go. I kind of opened up a little bit of a gap and felt good. I hammered all the way to the line."
It was a good tune-up for the Olympics, he said, despite a weaker field than Huatulco.
"It just depends on the race," added Mislawchuk. "The prize money and points, etcetera for world ranking are just less than that of a higher level race so it really just depends. But the guy who got third (Sunday) is ranked like 15th in the world and has had multiple podiums and victories at World Cups."
Mislawchuk’s Olympic teammate, Matt Sharpe of Campbell River, B.C., was well back in 59th place but the two Canadians swam and rode together before Sharpe dropped off during the run. This was all according to plan since it will be Sharpe’s job to keep Mislawchuk out of harm’s way until the run in Tokyo.
"His goal was just to swim and bike and simulate what he’s going to do in Tokyo — working together with me in the race — so his finish time wasn’t (indicative) of his race," said Mislawchuk.
Meanwhile, two unidentified athletes already living in the Olympic Village have tested positive for COVID-19. With the Games opening Friday, Mislawchuk said he wasn’t overly concerned.
"They’ve made it pretty clear that (the Canadian triathletes) are staying within our bubble, even within the village," said Mislawchuk, who flies to Japan on Monday afternoon. "I’m not allowed to take my mask off unless I’m sleeping basically or putting food in my mouth. And so that kind of makes me feel a lot better I would say."
Meanwhile, Winnipegger Kyla Roy finished the Long Beach women’s race in 20th, clocking a time of 1:00:07.
American Renee Tomlin won the race in a time of 58:09.
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.