Races › Championship
24 Sep 2021
4 min read
Championship ○ Macca’s Column ○ Malibu
Malibu'21 ○ season’21
Column by 4x World Champion Chris McCormack
One of the most stacked fields in the history of short course triathlon. The Championship Series titles on the line. $1.25m in prize money to be handed out. And all with the backdrop of Zuma Beach in Malibu. Super League Triathlon has landed in the USA.
In what promises to be a thrilling finale to the 2021 Championship Series, Super League’s stars who have travelled around the globe for the last four weeks are joined by Olympic and World Champions Flora Duffy and Kristian Blummenfelt and 70.3 World Champions Lucy Charles-Barclay and Gustav Iden.
With the Eliminator format in play, meaning three stages of swim-bike-run with a 4 minute break in between but eliminations out the back after each bike discipline and run lap, and two Short Chutes up for for grabs for the first over the line after T1 and T2 of the Stage 1, tactics are crucial.
Add to that a beach start, a sea swim and the fact that the titles are going to be decided, most likely by one final short, sharp and intense race of maybe 15 minutes, and there is so much to play for.
How will it go? It’s so hard to call with different race dynamics in play, so we asked four-time World Champion and Super League Co-Founder Chris McCormack for his predictions.
Macca’s view: Jess Learmonth is in sizzling form and has been undefeated. This is the Eliminator format so the rest in between races is going to be a big plus. Flora Duffy coming into the mix and Lucy Charles-Barclay who has such a big swim brings so much more horsepower to the women’s swim. From that perspective Jess will have company in the swim. The main benefactor of that will be Georgia Taylor-Brown.
I think Flora Duffy is going to love this course but it’s whether she has done enough work post-Olympic Games when she has been very busy.
I think without any disrespect Jess could be a little exposed by the format. She will probably win the Series by finishing third with Georgia just ahead of her. If Georgia Taylor-Brown can put Flora between her and Jess then she has what she needs.
Also look out for Katie Zaferes, Taylor Spivey, who is racing close to home, and Cassandre Beaugrand who will find the wade interesting with her longer legs.
The Eliminator format opens it up for the big sprint finishes but in the women’s side the swim has been so important that the addition of Lucy Charles-Barlcay could change the outcome and the benefactors will be Flora Duffy and Georgia Taylor-Brown.
Macca’s view: The men’s race is probably the most exciting of the season. I know Vincent struggled in Jersey and that was a by-product of it being the Enduro format. He had that injury before the Olympic Games and that stopped his training to carry him through four weeks in a row, but that won’t affect him on this one-off and he’s such a big finisher.Two interesting things are the swim jersey that he and Matt Hauser are chasing. Matt gave the points up last week to give Vincent the Short Chute but there’s $20,000 on the line so I think Matt either has to get a deal going with Vincent or go after that Short Chute, which would mean the only one would be on the bike.
Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden come into the mix but I don’t think they have the horsepower to win the race. If they get between Jonny Brownlee, Alex Yee and Hayden Wilde it could upset the apple cart. I want Jonny to win one because he has been outstanding and consistent over the Series, but I am not sure he will win this one.
Alex Yee will battle with Blummenfelt, Wilde, Yee and Vilaca for the podium, but the disadvantage for Yee and Vilaca is their weight because that wade into the water will be very different for them. If there’s a little bit of a wave on it will be disruptive to their swim and they don’t have the power to swim back around and that could be the difference. While Kristian is a lot bigger and stronger I don’t think he will like this swim either but his bike strength could drag other athletes up including Hayden Wilde.
As athletes are eliminated and there are holes by Stage 3 you will see the talent and strength of Jonny Brownlee and Vincent Luis. I believe Vincent will out-kick him to win the race but Jonny will win the Series.
Super League Triathlon © 2021