7 Triathlon Pros Set to Have a Breakout Year in 2023
Want to look like a triathlon clairvoyant? Bet on these emerging pros set to have a big year in 2023.
Increasing numbers of race formats to pick from, a short run-in to the Olympic Games, Ironman still a behemoth, the birth of the PTO, and more money being pumped into the sport than ever before – has there ever been a better time to be a professional triathlete? As we kick off 2023, which (as yet) unheralded swim, bike and runners could be set for a breakthrough year? Here are seven names to keep an eye on in the season ahead.Section divider
18 | Sweden
While many eyes were on the homecoming of Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden in this season’s inaugural World Cup in Bergen, it was another Scandinavian athlete making a stir in the women’s race. Teenager Månsson outkicked and, in a close-contact finish, outmuscled Belgium’s Jolien Vermeylen to take victory over the sprint distance. It capped a step up in level after Månsson became the junior world champion in Montreal and junior European champion in Poland earlier in the summer, and while very early days, there will already be high hopes for her to become only Sweden’s second Olympic triathlon medallist after Lisa Norden’s silver in London 2012.Section divider
24 | USA
Not related to either Steve of Great Escape fame nor Lightning from Disney Pixar’s Cars (we’re reiterating this one final time so that he doesn’t have to), McQueen committed himself to Super League Triathlon this fall and was a key member of the Sharks team that led into the final round in Saudi Arabia. It was an apt draft for the former competitive swimmer from Indiana who more than holds his own in the water and was ranked fourth best swimmer in the series. That strength and confidence held through to the end-of-season World Series finals in Abu Dhabi, where he made the nine-man breakaway on the bike along with fellow American Seth Rider (another name to look out for). The run needs work, but if McQueen keeps putting himself in pole position, the results should follow and this McQueen will become a household name in his own right.
RELATED: How Do Future Olympians Get Faster? Getting Slapped Around By The Best Helps.Section divider
20 | Italy
Unbeaten in more than three years, Spain’s Susana Rodriguez is the Paralympic champion and star of the visually impaired paratri class, but a couple of fresh-faced challengers are emerging. As well as Britain’s Kate Crowhurst, who won Commonwealth gold for England this summer, Italian 20-year-old Francesca Tarantello, having just completed her first season in the sport, looks ready to make a huge impression. Having won in Bari and Alanya to add to the national title, Tarantello was only 32sec behind Rodriguez in the world championship in Abu Dhabi last month. This included a time compensation for Rodriguez as a more visually-impaired athlete that will be reduced by a further 7 seconds for 2023. The gap to the front is closing and as the University of Padua student’s education in the sport continues into a second season, expect the improvements to come fast too.
RELATED: What is Paratriathlon? Understanding Triathlon in the ParalympicsSection divider
26 | Italy
The 26-year-old Italian is an experienced triathlete who has won a World Cup, European Cups, national titles and a European Under-23 crown in a decade of short course racing. Olmo finished a career-high of seventh on the World Series in Bermuda in 2019, but while she gained Olympic selection, Tokyo didn’t go to plan and she dropped out on the run – with the same fate befalling her at the European Championship in Valencia two months later. The signs were there, but Olmo was absent for almost the entirety of 2022 – “a dark period” that was overwhelming, according to coach Fabio Rastelli. She returned in style in Clash Daytona at the end of the year, however. On the Florida speedway, the rejuvenated Olmo claimed victory, thanks to a race-best bike leg before running down Spain’s Sarah Perez Sala. As she embarks on a non-drafting career away from the national federation, that power through the pedals should put her in good stead.Section divider
23 | USA
It was an up and down full rookie season in non-drafting competition for the former University of Florida track and cross-country athlete where four DNFs were matched by four podiums. Twice Foley took top spot, at White Lake Half in May and Ironman 70.3 Waco in October, where in the latter a 2:01 bike split was followed by a 1:11 run – by far the fastest of the day – that underlined exactly where his strengths lie. OK, so the swim needs work, and he was the last pro out of the water at both the PTO Open in Dallas and Ironman 70.3 worlds before pulling the plug, but it also showed that the young American is not afraid to try and mix it with the big boys. In his own words he is both “super young and super young in the sport” and while there are likely to be more detonations in 2023, there should also be more celebrations too.Section divider
24 | Netherlands
Similar to Foley, Dutch flier Keulen is a former track runner par excellence, who is one full season into the non-drafting game and threatening to make the breakthrough in 2023. But unlike the American, Keulen also has a history at short course racing and swim pedigree to fall back on. A win at Ironman 70.3 Switzerland was the 2022 highlight, along with a fourth place in a stacked field at Clash Miami early in the season that also included an impassioned post-race interview. It’s not all been rosy, a couple of DNFs including at the 70.3 worlds (another parallel with Foley) underscore the reality of racing at the highest level, but the Netherlands’ three-time national junior 800m champion retains the talent to kick on next year. One promising omen is that he’s a triplet and as both Holly Lawrence and Sam Long have shown, that 1 in 10,000 chance, seems to correlate quite well with middle distance success.
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26 | France
After making waves as the youngest woman in this year’s pro field in Hawaii, if the 26-year-old from Besançon continues her upward trajectory expect her to be pushing at least for the prize money when the women-only race returns to the Big Island in October. Mathieux showed both her naivety and resilience by swimming completely off-course and adding several hundred meters to the start of the day in Kona before grinding it out along the Queen K to eventually finish 20th. Not that she’s averse to taking on tough challenges, as shown by a second place in Embrunman in August and third place in Ironman Lanzarote last year, two of the most grueling iron-distance races on the circuit. She’s also come through a challenging 2022 with two bouts of Covid, a change of coach and missing the first Ironman World Championship in St. George in May through injury. But as shown by her runner-up spot at Ironman Mallorca at the end of last year where she down some big names, including Lisa Norden and Fennella Langridge, there’s plenty to work on, but plenty of promise too.
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