Manitoba's Tyler Mislawchuk showed he is in fine pre-Olympic form with a dominating victory at a World Triathlon Cup men's event in Huatulco, Mexico Sunday morning.
Mislawchuk, who won in Huatuloco in 2019, came out of the transition from the 20-kilometre bike section in second place and took command during the five-kilometre run, finishing in 53:04 over the sprint distance, which also includes a 750-metre swim and five-kilometre run.
He was 12 seconds ahead of Brazil's Manoel Messias and 14 seconds ahead of third-place finisher Migel Hidalgo, another Brazilian. Mislawchuk earned a winner's prize of US$7,500 for his third career World Cup victory.
He credited Canadian teammate Matthew Sharpe for playing a key role during the 10-kilometre bike leg.
"This feels so bloody good," Mislawchuk told Triathlon Canada. "Me and Sharpie rolling out there together today was awesome. It was a statement day for sure and just feels great.
"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."
Sharpe of Victoria, B.C., eventually slipped back to 44th place in the 59-man field, 2:44 behind Mislawchuk.
Three other Canadian men competed in Huatuloco, including Jeremy Briand of Sainte-Julie, Que., who finished 32 seconds behind Mislawchuk in ninth place and Charles Paquet of Port Cartier, Que., who was 52 seconds back in 16th. John Rasmussen of Hamilton, Ont., was 1:27 back in 27th place.
Mislawchuk, a 26-year-old from Oak Bluff, is Canada's chief medal threat in men's triathlon at the upcoming Tokyo Summer Games.
He returned to competition last month in Lisbon after a 19-month absence from the men's triathlon circuit only to have a flat tire during the cycling leg throw him out of contention.
In Lisbon, Mislawchuk started the 10-kilometre run 2:53 behind the leaders and came home in 47th place, 4:41 behind winner Kristian Blummenfelt of Norway.
In Huatulco, it was a different story. A strong start in the swim put Mislawchuk four seconds off the lead. He was second at the transition from bike to run and soon took control of the race.
"I was first on the run and then just settled into my pace," added Mislawchuk. "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, ‘Let's go.' "
The steamy conditions suited him, too, and he's hoping for a repeat of that at the Olympics next month.
"It was super humid and hot," said Mislawchuk. "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."
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.