Olympic preview: 16 days to go

With just over two weeks to go before the 2016 Rio Olympic Games men's triathlon, TriathlonWorld.com previews the course.

| August 2, 2016 | NEWS

Rio de Janeiro | Gwen Jorgensen, Non Stanford and Vicky Holland on the run at the 2015 Rio test event. The three finished in that order at last year\'s race in Rio.

Gwen Jorgensen, Non Stanford and Vicky Holland on the run at the 2015 Rio test event. The three finished in that order at last year's race in Rio.

Photo >Wagner Araujo / triathlon.org

OK, we’ve heard all about the water. Over the next few weeks we’ll no doubt hear a lot more. TriathlonWorld.com’s Frank Wechsel will be in Rio, and we’ll let him provide the latest updates from onsite over the next few weeks. For today, anyway, we’ll follow three-time US Olympian Megan Kalmoe’s advice:

In a story posted on her website last week titled “Stop Trying to Ruing the Olympics for Us,” Kalmoe put it very simply:

"I have worked for ten years to get tho this point and will continue to work as hard as I can over the next few weeks to make the most of this very special and unique opportunity …. But all you want to do is talk about s**t in the water …

“At this point it is known that there are issues with the water quality. It is known that athletes are going to be at risk for illness. It is known that we are going to have to be smart, hygienic and take precautions. Great. Let’s move on.”

Which is exactly what we’ll do. Today we’re going to talk about the Olympic triathlon course. Simple. In a few more days we’ll move on to profile some of the athletes. We’ll have a preview story every couple of days for the next two and a bit weeks as we gear up for what promises to be one of the most exciting triathlon events of the year.

The swim

The swim takes place at the Rio’s famous Copacabana beach. The one-loop, 1.5 km course includes a beach start. There is potential for more current and surf than we typically see at an ITU event. Last year the men’s race saw two distinct groups form during the swim – one would think that being in front will be critical at the Olympics this year, especially considering the challenging bike course.

The bike

The eight-lap 41.6 km bike course has a steep climb that will certainly keep things interesting. That said, there’s a technical descent that might actually break things up even more. The technical components of the course might it a bit easier for a smaller breakaway group to get clear and do some damage on the likes of Gwen Jorgensen, who is hands down the most feared runner in the women’s field. (We’ll be chatting with Flora Duffy this weekend – she’s the woman most consider the most likely to create that breakaway group, if one forms, in the women’s race.)

The run

The four-loop, 10 km run along Atlantica Avenue will likely be the deciding point of the race. It’s a relatively flat course, which makes it prime for some speedy times. Heat is likely to be a factor on race day - daily highs around this time of year are typically 27 degrees Celsius, but do climb to over 32 degrees one day in 10 on average. (How much do you want to bet one of the races wins the 30+ degree lottery?)

Triathlon is slated for August 18 (men) and August 20 (women). You can check out the start lists for the races here.