I think the women believe that Daniela Ryf is well and truly beatable. That doesn't mean it's a foregone conclusion, don't get me wrong, but there's a little bit more belief around the ability to beat her, which is part of the momentum closing that gap.
Lucy Charles-Barclay led that charge, so her being injured and out of Sub8 sort of opens up the playing field for the women's race. With her gone it takes away that horsepower up front in the swim: where people like Kat Matthews or Anne Haug would have been in chase mode, they may now be leading the race. That changes the dynamic because there's no one up the road dictating the pace, which brings other people into play.
I look at St. George, and it's a strong person's course. The swim now is not going to be as important as what we originally thought. With Lucy out I do believe it's going to come down to a big bike, big run race. That opens it up to me between Kat Matthews – who’s a brilliant runner right off a hard bike, and she's riding better than she's ever had, so she's coming to form at the right time.
Lucy going opens the doors for others. The problem is when she comes back for Kona – if she's back for Kona this year, or if not, the following year – there will be a new world champion.
Macca's Pick: I'm going to go with Kat Matthews, only because we’ve spoken to her recently and I’ve been able to see her up close. I like where her headspace is; I think she believes that she can win it.
Daniela will try and dictate terms, get involved in that battle early and she may be a casualty of it. She’s THE Daniela Ryf; she’s unbelievable at this distance, she’s as strong as an ox, and she will never give up. I’m just unsure of where she sits athletically, physically and mentally right now – whether she’s prepared to dig as deep as she’s going to have to in order to beat these hungry athletes chasing their first world title.
Kristian Blummenfelt has done one race in Cozumel, as has Gustav Iden in Florida - but they're not racing the same people they raced in Cozumel.
There's also the question of time. Vincent Luis dominated in 2019 and 2020, and had the Olympics been that year he might have been Olympic champion. But Tokyo got moved to 2021, and Vincent wasn't the same athlete. The question is: is Kristian the same athlete in 2022 as he was in 2021?
I think Alistair Brownlee and other big swimmers can get away from Kristian. He’s probably prepared for that; watching everything he's doing for Sub7 I think he's not really worried about any time lost on the swim, but he wants to make it up.
I do believe this course suits a stronger athlete like Kristian, but if Alistair can be very patient and ride the wave of momentum set by others, I still think Alistair is well and truly capable of winning it. In these longer races he hasn't really dialled it into perfection, but I'm being critical of a guy who was in the fastest ever race at Oceanside and getting fourth, or second at 70.3 Worlds in 2019. You know he's right there, and more so than other athletes.
Macca's Pick: With Jan Frodeno out of the race, expect Lionel Sanders to make a huge play for that top spot. I think Lionel thinks he can beat the Norwegians, and I do think he believes he can beat Alistair -- because he has now. Don’t underestimate the power of belief.
But don’t be surprised if someone steps up from nowhere and wins it. When you put this sort of talent in the field, they make mistakes because they concentrate on each other. That dark horse that can stay in the mix and stay out of trouble can sometimes deliver.
Chris "Macca" McCormack is a four-time triathlon world champion with the biggest winning percentage in the history of the sport. He is a co-founder and partner in Super League Triathlon, CEO of the Bahrain Endurance 13 team, founder and executive director of MX Endurance, and CEO of MANA Sports & Entertainment Group.