Photos: World Triathlon

By Kent Gray/
Tayler Reid is heading to altitude satisfied he’s done pretty much all he can to earn the fern for a second Olympic Games appearance.

The Gisborne 27-year-old finished 15th at WTCS Cagliari early Sunday (NZT), his fourth best result on World Triathlon’s top tier circuit.

It was a timely reminder of Reid’s ability given the Sardinia standard distance race was the last event of the two year Paris Games qualification cycle.

With Dylan McCullough slipping eight spots to 38th in the World Triathlon Olympic Qualification Rankings following the revelation of a stress fracture in his left leg, it means Reid, in 33rd place, finishes as the second highest Kiwi behind second-ranked Hayden Wilde.

What it doesn’t guarantee is a second Olympic appearance and the chance to eclipse his 18th placing at the Tokyo Olympics in July 2021.

The decision on who will join Wilde as the second Kiwi on the start line for the July 30 individual men’s race and the August 5 Mixed Team Relay in Paris is now in the hands of the independent Tri NZ selection panel who will in turn send their nominations to the NZOC for ratification.

All Reid can do now is crack into training while the tough call is made. He’s doing that in the company of partner Nicole van der Kaay in Font Romeu. McCullough is also training in the world-renowned ski resort town in the Pyrénées in Southern France near the Spanish border.

“Feels good to finish with a strong one,” Reid told of his Cagliari performance.

“After a mammoth race block, with a load of travel, I’m running on fumes. Looking forward to resetting and getting into a big tasty block of training.”

After a slow start to 2024, Reid was forced to pivot in his Paris qualification quest. The new hope was that Wilde, Reid and McCullough would make it into the top 30 of the Olympic Qualification Ranking to give NZL three slots in the individual men’s race.

It was not to be but it did not diminish the effort, in terms of travel and whole-hearted performances, that Reid put in.

In addition to Cagliari, the 2018 U23 world champion also finished 2nd to Matt Hauser at the Oceania Standard Distance Championships in Taupo, 4th at World Cup Wollongong, 3rd at World Cup Chengdu and 24th at WTCS Yokohama.

Reid was happy to cap those performances in Sardinia and believes there is still more to give.

“I enjoyed the choppy swim and the bike was on, which I think was easy to see as some top calibre guys were getting popped off the back,” Reid said of WTCS Cagliari.

“It slowed down a fraction when it started raining; then it was best to be at the front energy wise and safety wise. I spent a bit of time around Haydo [Wilde finished second to Alex Yee] cause I know I can trust him cornering in the wet.”

Reid finished with a 31:48 split for the 10km run.

“I went out hard hunting a top eight. Unfortunately, after about a lap, I didn’t have the wheels but hung tough for 15th. Happy with the result but think I’m capable of running a lot quicker… unfortunately that just wasn’t today.”

Van der Kaay was also satisfied with her 27th in Cagliari.

It was a solid improvement on her 41st at WTCS Yokohama a fortnight earlier although she again had a lot of work to do after a challenging swim in Sardinia where van der Kaay and teammate Ainsley Thorpe exited the water nearly a minute down.

“P27 finishing position, pretty average on paper but much happier than 2 weeks ago!” van der Kaay wrote on social media.

“The last weeks have been about rebuilding my energy system through good recovery and nutrition, with the help of an incredible team behind the scenes.

“After struggling to run 36:30 in Yoko, I reduced my Cagliari time to 34:00 and had the ability to push again. Different courses & situations ofc, but glad the feels are coming back!

“Plenty of work on’s. Six to eight weeks to make a difference ✨️”

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