By Kent Gray/Tri NZ
Matt Hauser wants swift redemption and has triathlon royalty backing him to do it with Chris McCormack predicting victory for his Aussie compatriot. That, naturally, will only embolden Hayden Wilde to prove the doubters wrong again when Munich hosts the second race of Super League Triathlon (SLT) 2022 on Sunday.
Wilde defied the odds physiologically to win last Sunday’s series opener in London, outkicking Hauser and British rival Alex Yee on the final run for victory despite the month since his Commonwealth Games silver medal performance in Birmingham being derailed by a nasty stomach virus.
With Yee only racing London, focus has naturally turned to a mouth-watering Wilder v Hauser showdown when the second of this season’s five SLT events is raced under the shadows of the 1972 Munich Olympic Stadium on Sunday.
WATCH LIVE COVERAGE OF SLT MUNICH FROM 8.30pm SUNDAY ON SKY SPORT (CHANNEL 600)
With that, the Kiwi No.1 will now have to overcome the great Aussie pile-on – Hauser’s hunger and McCormack’s expert prediction – not to mention Munich’s lung-busting enduro format: back-to-back-to-back swim (300m), bike (4km) and run (1.6km) legs non-stop. It’s a switch up from last week’s ‘Triple Mix’ and is rated the most “brutal” of the SLT formats, especially with a challenging downhill run into the swim transition. Don’t be surprised if both the 20-strong men’s and women’s fields are quickly thinned out with SLT rules seeing any athlete who falls 90s behind the leader automatically eliminated.
McCormack, one of the SLT co-founders and team manager of the Bahrain Victorious Scorpions, predicts Eagle Hauser using his swimming prowess to pip Team Shark talisman Wilde. After successfully predicting five of the six podium places in London, “Macca’s” big call can’t be underestimated but then again, Kiwi fans might take it with a large pinch of Aussie salt too.
“The form guide in London showed that Matty Hauser is in good form but in Munich with the Enduro it will all depend on his run and how he paces it. It’s also important on that second and third swims that he isolates Hayden Wilde.
“I think Matt will get his first win of the Series outkicking Hayden into second. I will also put Jonny Brownlee on the podium after a tight tussle with Tyler Mislawchuk and Vasco Vilaca.”
London was marked by controversy when Hauser was originally disqualified for a false start later tagged to Eagles team-mate Jamie Riddle, then hastily reinstated but only after serving a five-second penalty…after the last swimmer departed the water. Unfazed, Hauser fought back to second and is understandably fired up for Munich.
“I am looking forward to starting on an even playing field and seeing what I can do in Munich. It’s been a great season for me so far and I have been really looking forward to Super League, Hauser told SuperLeagueTriathlon.com
“I have a point to prove. I am not here just to win the swim jersey as I did last year. I am here to challenge for the overall.”
Missing in the Munich pre-race hoopla is the fact Wilde ran down Hauser, despite the Aussie getting a ‘short chute” slingshot on the first lap of the last run leg. It didn’t go unnoticed either that Wilde, who surprised many with his swim in Birmingham, went shoulder-to-shoulder and stroke-for-stroke with Hauser in the final swim in London last Sunday.
Kiwi and Sharks team-mates Tayler Reid and Nicole van der Kaay, meanwhile, will look to kick on from impressive performances in London, eighth and 10th on debut respectively.
Reid was eliminated before the third stage in Munich last season but that was under the STL’s ‘Equaliser’ format; the Cambridge-based racer looks stronger in 2022 and is currently second to Hauser in the individual swim standings after London. Wilde, fourth in Munich last year but third (behind Yee and Brownlee) in the last SLT Enduro race in Jersey last September, is currently third and second in the individual bike and run standings; Hauser features in the top three of all three disciplines.
Van der Kaay will be looking to kick-on from her eye-opening debut London. It will be interesting to see how the Taupo triathlete, ninth in at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, responds to the format switch.
“Triple mix was a treat! 3 rounds of pain, and made it to the top 10!” said Van der Kaay on social media after London. “Happy with the start of the series and looking forward to more! Sharks standing second on the overall tally.”
And Macca’s prediction for the women? “I think we will see the same three on the podium as in London, but in a different order,” McCormack continued on SuperLeagueTriathlon.com
“After seeing the results in London, Taylor Spivey is in great form but I have to go with Cassandre Beaugrand again. The Enduro is a format that really suits her style and her strengths.
“Georgia Taylor-Brown will need to find her feet, but that is something she can definitely do, and assuming she manages it then she will come second as I think Beaugrand may be a little bit too strong on that last run. I expect Non Stanford to be a little bit closer, but I think Spivey will round out the podium.”
Stay tuned to Tri NZ for full coverage of SLT Munich early Monday!