Super League Triathlon races are fast and furious, with unique event formats ensuring every second counts. Race one of the 2022 SLT Championship Series in London is guaranteed to epitomize the fast and furious style of racing that means time is of the essence.
Performance data goes hand-in-hand with saving seconds on swim, bike, run, and transition splits. Nobody knows that better than Graeme Acheson, the co-founder and CEO of Sports4Cast, who works alongside SLT.
We caught up with him ahead of the first race of the season this weekend, where Acheson provided the details on the favourites, an overview of team tactics and single-discipline strengths, as well as his predictions for the podium. in individual and team events.
The five best men
Alex Yee – While the 2021 SLT Championship Series champion won’t be racing the full series this year, Yee will finally want to take that win in front of a home crowd that eluded him in last year’s race. The Olympic silver medalist and Commonwealth Games champion is the favorite heading into Sunday but will need to be on his A-Game to get the better of his close rival and friend Hayden Wilde.
Hayden Wilde – Wilde finished second behind Yee in Birmingham at the Commonwealth Games this summer, so he will be hoping to do better on British soil this time around. He is predicted to have the fastest bike in London, but in the deciding race the numbers are in Yee’s favour. Wilde had the fastest running stage last year in London with the help of a short parachute, while his full lap time was fastest with Yee. If he gets off the bike with Yee, victory could be decided in a split second, so the stakes on every part of his game are high.
Jonny Brownlee – After having to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games following a cycling accident at WTCS Leeds, Brownlee started the second half of his season last weekend at the Bergen World Cup, where he finished 16th in his first race after injury. The Yorkshireman, a regular at SLT racing, will bank on his race day smarts and consistency to put himself in contention for the podium, while hoping to earn points for fan-owned Team Cheetahs along the way.
Tyler Mislawchuk – Mislawchuk will be the flag bearer for Team Scorpions in the men’s race and it will be interesting to see what the Canadian Olympian is able to produce on race day. Mislawchuk is one of the only athletes who might have the leg speed to stick with Wilde and Yee if he gets off the bike in contention and a return to form for the WTCS medalist would be a welcome sight.
Vasco Vilaca – The Super League product will be keen to score invaluable points for the Rhinos team in London, while demonstrating the kind of ability that saw him take a standalone second place at the ITU World Championships in Hamburg in 2020. The young Portuguese athlete sits behind Hayden Wilde as the second favorite for the fastest bike and could use that kind of power to make it onto the podium alongside his Rhinos teammate Alex Yee.
Skybet have raised the price for Sunday’s race and the only big difference of opinion with Graeme is on Matt Hauser, who they make third favorite. Yee dominates his market at 11/10, a fraction ahead of Wilde at 5/4.
Top 5 women
Georgia Taylor Brown – The 2021 SLT Championship Series champion is set to start her title defense with a home win. The recent Commonwealth Games silver medalist should have the fastest bike of the day, but she hopes her consistency across the board will be enough to carry her to victory. Last year in London, technical issues on the bike hampered the GTB race, so she hopes that for herself and the Scorpions team, everything will go well this time around.
Beth Potter – Team Sharks are hoping for a big run from the Scottish Commonwealth Games bronze medalist, who also won the Arena Games here in London in 2021. The fastest pure runner on the pitch, with a personal best 5 14:41 km and a 2016 Olympic Place in Rio to her name, the Scotsman is surprisingly not expected to be the fastest runner this weekend. Will she be able to prove the data wrong and race to victory?
Cassandra Beaugrand – Team Scorpions are relishing the women’s race in London as their star athletes Beaugrand and GTB are both expected to finish on the podium. It will be interesting to see what manager Chris McCormack’s team tactics are on race day and how he will manage his two suitors in the best interests of the team. A short swim drop for Beaugrand could see McCormack make a tough call, but the Frenchwoman will want to prove she deserves the team’s support with a solid run on Sunday.
Sophie Coldwell – Could Cheetahs main competitor Coldwell give the fans something to roar with a podium finish in London? Coldwell is the fourth seed, but with Beaugrand showing intermittent form in the SLT races of last year’s series, it could make her a British sweep of the women’s podium. Coldwell is expected to play an important role in the swimming, which, buoyed by a short fall, could see her in contention to snatch victory from under the noses of the favourites.
Taylor Spivey – Leading the Rhinos team is American Spivey, who hopes to use her experience and strength in SLT in all three disciplines to her and her team’s advantage. How many points Spivey can pick up will be crucial for the Rhinos team and their manager Ronnie Schildknecht in London as they seek to avoid a similar fate at their last place in the team standings in 2021.
Again, Skybet prices underline that Graeme is correct with his predictions; close between GTB, Potter and Beaugrand at the top of their market, Coldwell and Spivey just behind.
Individual and team predictions
After crunching the numbers, Acheson gave us his final predictions for the first race of the series tomorrow.
In the men’s race, Alex Yee is poised to edge longtime rival Hayden Wilde for victory, holding a 21.1% chance of victory, with Wilde a fraction behind at 18.2%. According to the data, Jonny Brownlee is second best, with the Yorkshireman, who had to miss the Commonwealth Games through injury, holding a 10.2 per cent chance of victory.
However, while the data predicts a win for Yee, the SLT race is unforgiving. If Wilde were to swim as well as he did at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, where he pulled a gap on Yee, his phenomenal cycling prowess, reflected in his 37.4 per cent chance of having the fastest leg faster, could upset the hometown. Yee favorite.
Among the women, Georgia Taylor-Brown is the big favorite with a 29.5% chance of victory. Next comes Beth Potter at 21.7%, ahead of Cassandra Beaugrand at 18.3%. Beaugrand, however, should have the fastest swimming (28.2%) and running (26.4%) legs in London. Her swimming and running prowess could be the difference in the team standings, as the Scorpions athlete is expected to be the women’s top scorer with a projected 19.3 points.
Finally, the data points to a win for Team Scorpions, who look likely to beat the Cheetahs with an expected 88 points to the fan team’s 74 points. The Sharks are expected to take third place ahead of the Rhinos, with 62 points to 60 points, while the Eagles unfortunately seem to be bringing up the rear, with only 40 points expected in total.
Regarding the overall series, Graeme says, “On paper the Scorpions look the best, but it really depends on the ability of the captains to get their athletes to target the specific discipline points on offer.
“You want athletes to target specific sections of the race and almost sacrifice the rest of their race, which is very unusual for triathlon. Last year, Tim Don managed to get his Eagles team to do it, and he won despite not having the best team “on paper”.
“This year’s Eagles just look a bit thin to me, although I’ve been proven wrong before…I think the Sharks look good – the big guns of Potter and Wilde – but also the Cheetahs fan team looks good.”
Be sure to watch the action on Sunday as the 2022 SLT Championship Series kicks off in London and keep a close eye on the Stats Hub on the SLT site.