This weekend in Leeds is the final World Triathlon Championship Series race before the end of Olympic qualifying. What does that mean for the average fan? It means it’s the last big chance for athletes (from Alistair Brownlee to Katie Zaferes) to make their case for Olympic selection. It’s also the last-minute short-course debut of Lucy Charles-Barclay.
Basically, it’s two hours full of drama in Leeds, England.
Because of the time difference, the para races are happening on Saturday and the elite races are happening Sunday afternoon in England—but it’ll be early Saturday and Sunday morning in the U.S.
Para races: Saturday, June 4, 9 a.m. ET (6 a.m. PT)
Women’s race: Sunday, June 6, 8:08 a.m. ET (5:08 a.m. PT)
Men’s race: Sunday, June 6, 10:54 a.m. ET (7:54 a.m. PT)
How to Watch WTCS Leeds
In the U.S., the primary way to watch the races will be on World Triathlon’s streaming service: Triathlon Live. A subscription costs $27/annually or $8/month. You can watch the World Triathlon Championship Series races here.
FloTrack, though typically a platform for major running races, will also be broadcasting the Leeds race here. A FloTrack subscription costs $30/month or $150/annually.
Who to Watch in Leeds
The biggest question comes from the U.S. women. With Summer Rappaport and Taylor Knibb locking down the two automatic spots, there’s just one slot left for the American women and it’ll be selected by a USA Triathlon committee. (And, no, we wouldn’t want to be that committee right now.) Three Americans are on the start line in Leeds, trying to prove they deserve the spot: Kirsten Kasper (who was third at a World Cup two weeks ago and 4th in the world standings in 2017 & 2018), Katie Zaferes (2019 world champion), and Taylor Spivey (4th in the world standings last year and 4th at the Yokohama qualifying event). Yes, it’s a hard choice to make, and all three will be looking to make a case in England.
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It’s also the first we’ve seen a number of the heavy hitters all on the same start line in a long time—many of whom didn’t make it to Yokohama. We’re seeing a return of 2018 world champion Flora Duffy—and the technical course with nine hilly laps should be perfect for her. Plus, there are seven British women lined up, from Kona runner-up Lucy Charles (who only got the nod to make her short-course debut 11 days ago) to Non Stanford and Jessica Learmonth and recent 5K world record setter Beth Potter. Georgia Taylor-Brown, however, who we haven’t seen since she won the asterix’d world championship race in Hamburg last fall, has pulled out with an injury. (You can see the full start list here.)
In the men’s race, the Americans currently have two spots up for grabs—both of which will be allocated by that same committee. Matt McElroy will be trying to make his case. He’ll be joined by Morgan Pearson, who has already qualified after taking the automatic Olympic spot with a third in Yokohama. But the big question for everyone in the men’s race comes from the British squad. Right now, they only have two spots for Tokyo and one has already been awarded to Jonny Brownlee, who will also be racing. So, who gets that last spot or can they earn three? Although he hasn’t raced the World Triathlon circuit much in the last year, Alistair Brownlee is trying to make a case for it—and he gets to do that on his home turf in Leeds. Can he prove he deserves it more than up-and-comer Alex Yee (who took 4th at Yokohama)? Plus, we’ll get to see Javi Gomez again and the top two from Yokohama: Kristian Blummenfelt and Jelle Geens. (You can see the full start list here.)
WTCS Leeds: What’s at Stake?
The Olympics! If we haven’t made it clear: This is one of the last chances for the three American women on the start list to make their case for just one spot, and the U.S. men will be looking to get picked for two more Tokyo slots by the selection committee. For a number of other countries (especially for the British men) it’s also a key selection event as the points window will close on June 14. Some athletes will have their dreams made this weekend and some won’t.