The eleventh edition of top-tier triathlon in Yokohama will mark the first of the new-look World Triathlon Championship Series on Saturday, as the world’s biggest racing season on the calendar to ultimately decide the Women’s 2021 World Champion finally gets back underway. Rarely has the campaign opener carried so many layers of intrigue and importance to so many.
Notably absent from this event are Flora Duffy and Georgia Taylor-Brown, both of whom are expected to push for a top spot overall again this season.
The almost universally shared lack of race practice from those starting is one thing. Local and virtual racing aside, this will be the first start line for the vast majority of the athletes since October last year. For some like Emma Jackson, Joanna Brown, and Non Stanford, you have to go back to 2019 for their last taste of the blue carpet.
Another layer is the prospect of the freshly opened Olympic Qualification window. Summer Rappaport is the only US triathlete with a place on the Tokyo start line confirmed. Teammates Taylor Spivey, Katie Zaferes, and Taylor Knibb are among those who know that they could guarantee theirs with a podium finish this weekend.