July 22, 2022

PTO Canadian Open: Women’s Race Preview

PTO Canadian Open 2022 Race Preview

The PTO Canadian Open gets underway tomorrow, with one of the strongest fields ever assembled in pro triathlon ready for action in Edmonton.

With 32 of the world’s top-ranked women battling to earn a slice of the $1m prize purse – the winner will earn a cool $100,000 – plus the chance to take a historical first-ever PTO Tour title, there’s a lot on the line this weekend.

Live coverage of the race starts at 10:30am local time (16:30 UTC). If you’re in Europe or the Indian Subcontinent, the race will be broadcast live exclusively on Eurosport. For the rest of the world, you can watch either via desktop or app on PTO+. Check out our How To Watch page for full listings.

The race course is far from straightforward with laps, hills and sharp turns to contend with. After the three-lap 2km swim in Hawrelak Park Lake, it’s on to an unforgiving four-lap bike course that’ll test athletes’ ability to climb, descend, corner and maintain focus. With few chances to find a rhythm, we could see a different dynamic during the bike leg than is typical on less technical courses. The run is also four laps, the flat, out-and-back course giving chasers plenty of opportunities to judge their gains as they close on the leaders.

The women’s race boasts one of the deepest fields ever assembled. Here’s a run-down of some of the highest-ranked athletes to watch out for.

Topping the list is PTO World #3 Laura Philipp. Nothing short of an absolute racing machine, the German star set a new world-best time for the 70.3 distance in March and came achingly close to doing the same at the full distance in Hamburg last month. Forced to sit out the IM world champs due to Covid, Philipp is raring to take a big title and is certainly a race favourite.

Next up is PTO World #7 Skye Moench who races for the USA but actually began life in Canada. Though more attuned to the full distance, Moench’s sheer power means she remains a threat in any race.

Britain’s Emma Pallant-Browne (PTO World #8) is one of the best middle-distance athletes the sport has ever seen and has already clocked four wins this season. “It’s an incredible event, an incredible thing to be a part of the first one,” said Pallant-Browne during the Canadian Open press conference. “To win… I don’t think there are many words to describe it. The quality of the fields here – there’s so many people with so much potential and it’s going to make for a really exciting event.”

Jeanni Metzler (PTO World #9) proved herself a stellar racer with a savage run in 2021. The South African is on the comeback trail after striving to overcome mental health issues during the winter but that doesn’t make her any less a danger to the competition.

Paula Findlay (PTO World #10) hails from Edmonton – her mother, Sheila is the race director! – so this hometown hero has both the pressure and confidence which comes with that. “I’m trying not to let [the pressure] really get to me and try to use it more as excitement than nerves,” said Findlay at the press conference. “It’s really cool to be back in Edmonton… I know the roads really well and it’s really fun to see my face and Lionel’s face all over the city on the banners… and I’m just trying to use that to get me excited to race.

“I think it’s a really unique course. It’s very technical… it kind-of looks like a World Cup ITU circuit with lots of corners, lots of climbing, lots of descending. So I think it’ll make for an interesting race and no-one knows what to expect so it’s a cool course.” Indeed, Findlay’s background in short-course racing gives her even more of an edge this weekend.

Beyond these top-five-ranked athletes, the depth-in-strength just keeps rolling. There’s Fenella Langridge, up to PTO World #11 after a stellar second-place performance in Roth. 

Meanwhile, Jackie Hering (PTO World #12) will be gunning for the top spot but is keenly aware of the quality of field this first PTO Tour event has attracted. “I’m not going to lie, there’s an extremely intimidating list of people at this race,” said Hering. “I just think it’s amazing the amount of Olympians and champions… But it’s important for me to try not to think about that and just focus on my own race and controlling how I execute my race, which I do feel confident in doing, and just not worry about everyone else.”

Other athletes to contend with include Holly Lawrence (PTO World #13); double Olympic medallist Nicola Spirig (PTO World #15) and Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle (PTO World #17) whose recent move from World Triathlon racing to long course should make her one to watch in Edmonton.

That’s only the top-10 seeded athletes in the race and there are plenty more for whom a podium place wouldn’t be a surprise! Check out the full women’s start list below to see all the athletes ready to duke it out in Edmonton.

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