This weekend, the best in the world (who can get into the U.S. and make it to Utah) will battle for the title of 70.3 World Champion. With so many last-minute changes of plans, injuries, and COVID cancellations, the start list has been heavily updated going into the weekend.
They can give us the inside scoop on their fellow athletes and how they expect the race to play out from the inside. So that’s why we went to four athletes who know their stuff.
For instance, four-time world champion Mirinda Carfrae, who won this race back in 2007, gave us her quick take for who to watch this weekend: Out front on the swim will be Taylor Knibb and Lucy Charles-Barclay. Then expect to see Emma Pallant-Browne, Skye Moench, Daniela Ryf, Ellie Salthouse, and Holly Lawrence moving up on the bike. But coming out of T2, Tamara Jewett, Chelsea Sodaro, Jeanni Metzler, and Jackie Hering will be crushing the run.
And then we got deep with three more pros—who opened their crystal balls to tell us how this could go down: Perennial first out of the water and Ironman champ Lauren Brandon; Ironman world champion podium finisher Ben Hoffman; and three-time world champion (including the 70.3 world title twice) Sebi Kienle.
Read on for their predictions and inside take.
Lucy Charles-Barclay will lead out of the water and I don’t think that anyone will stay with her. If Taylor Knibb races, then I think her and Lucy Hall will swim together and be not too far behind Charles-Barclay heading into T1. The next group will be over a minute back, including Ellie Salthouse, Holly Lawrence, Pamella Oliveira, Daniela Ryf, Paula Findlay, Jeanni Metzler, and Emma Pallant-Browne, who has been swimming well this year, so that will be a big group chasing the front ladies on the bike.
Lucy Charles-Barclay has shown that she is in great form and I think the only women who could catch her on the bike would be Daniela Ryf or Taylor Knibb. There’s a lot of fire power from the first chase group on the bike, so I think they will be pushing the pace and it will be tough for other women behind to catch their pack. I could see Jackie Hering, Skye Moench, Chelsea Sodaro, and maybe Katrina Matthews possibly catching some of the first pack, but then it will be a run race for all of the ladies.
The race will be amazing to watch on the run. Tamara Jewett and Lesley Smith will be fast runners coming from behind and catching women one at a time. But I think the top 10 will most likely come from those women who are top 10 off the bike.
Podium Predictions: If Daniela is healthy, then I think: Daniela Ryf, Lucy Charles-Barclay, and Taylor Knibb. If Taylor doesn’t race, then I’m picking Emma Pallant-Browne, who has been on fire this year to take the final podium spot.
I’m actually much more excited for the women’s race this year, and think it will be quite the interesting battle with Lucy, Daniela, Taylor, Emma, Holly, and Ellie, among others. I think that the loss/absence of Ali, Lionel, Sebi, Jan, and Gomez means the men’s race will be a little less intense, but probably still quite dynamic overall.
I think Taylor [Knibb] will lead out and battle for the front of the race with Lucy [Charles-Barclay] until Snow Canyon, when Daniela [Ryf] will regain contact, possibly with Holly [Lawrence] and Ellie [Salthouse] in tow. A few minutes back will be a larger group including Emma [Pallant-Browne], Jeanni [Metzler], Jackie [Hering], Lisa [Norden], and maybe Skye [Moench]. Onto the run, Daniela will lead, with Taylor passing her by mile 3-4, Lucy will hold third. Mid-way, Emma and Jeanni will bridge to Lucy and pass her. Taylor will win, Daniela will get second, Emma third, Lucy fourth, Jeanni fifth, Holly 6th, Ellie 7th, and Jackie 8th.
For the men, I believe it will be two large, strong groups most of the day. The front of the race out of the water and well into the bike will include Gutsav [Iden], Blu [Kristian Blummenfelt], Maurice [Clavel], Aaron [Royle], Kyle [Smith], Daniel [Baekegaard], Max [Neumann], George [Goodwin], Ben [Kanute], and Appo [Sam Appleton]. The chase group will eventually form as Fred [Funk], Jackson [Laundry], Sam [Long], Magnus [Ditlev], Tim Reed, and Andreas [Dreitz], with a desperate effort from Long, Ditlev, and Funk to get across never realized. The front will shatter some on Snow Canyon, with Iden, Blu, Smith, Appo, and Baekegaard gaining 1:30-2 minutes on the way into T2. The closest battle will be for third between Baekegaard and Appo, with Sam prevailing. Iden wins by 70 seconds over Blu, and Kyle Smith will take fifth ahead of Long, Kanute, Laundry.
But, then again, I could have written this about 20 other ways, so now we will just have to wait and see!
I expect a very fast swim group, probably as big as 15 guys. I think all the podium candidates will be in this swim group. I don‘t expect that is is possible to break away from this group until the Snow Canyon climb. Some guys have to try to get away there. But do they have the power? Not very likely. So it’s down to the run, but this time with a big group of 10 guys. At the end I would not bet against [Kristian] Blummenfelt. He will make the triple of Olympic champ, World Triathlon world champ, and now 70.3 world champ. Perfect. Followed by his countryman Gustav Iden, and an other guy from Northern Europe: Daniel Baekkegard. Just because I’m an expert: fourth place for Casper Stornes, fifth for Jan Stratman, and because you are wondering: Sam Long will fight up his way to sixth place, which is a great performance against such a strong group.
Can’t imagine how anyone can beat Taylor Knibb. She might be checking in with a gravel bike just to make it more interesting. But I bet against Lucy [Charles-Barclay] once this year and then she showed an extraordinary performance in Leeds. She delivers the whole package. I can’t see how anyone can beat her. Daniela [Ryf] did an Ironman the other week? That’s just training for her. St. George is a power and strength course, not a speed course. I can’t see how anyone can beat Daniela here either.
OK, the women’s race is going to be interesting!
Now you just have to watch and see who was right…