Alex Yee and Taylor Knibb round out the squad!
The 2021 triathlon season was one of the most unpredictable in the history of the sport. After a year of practically no competition, athletes ramped up their preparations for a full slate of races with no recent benchmarks, and no idea how they would fare in comparison to their rivals.
In that environment of uncertainty, young athletes blossomed. Great Britain’s Alex Yee and the United States’ Taylor Knibb, both just 23 years old, were two of the year’s biggest breakout stars. Both of them thrived on the World Triathlon Championship Series circuit — Yee winning in Leeds, Knibb winning in Yokohama and the series finals in Edmonton — and both qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where Knibb took silver in the mixed relay and Yee took gold in the mixed relay and silver in the men’s individual triathlon. In addition, Knibb posted the fastest women’s time in an ultra-elite Collins Cup field.
Yee and Knibb are now the two newest — and youngest — members of the Trek Factory Racing Triathlon team, joining Holly Lawrence, Tim O’Donnell, Ben Kanute and Ellie Salthouse for the 2022 season. All six riders will put the new Speed Concept to the test all over the world in a jam-packed series of races that includes the postponed 2021 Ironman World Championship on May 7 in St. George, the regularly-scheduled 2022 Ironman World Championship on Oct. 6 in Kona, and the Ironman 70.3 World Championship on Oct. 28 in St. George.
Get ready, because 2022 is going to be wild.
In addition to Knibb and Yee, TFR’s incumbent racers also had standout seasons.
Salthouse’s year was littered with wins from start to finish, beginning in February at Hell of the West in Goondiwindi, Australia, and wrapping up in October at Ironman 70.3 Memphis. Before Hell of the West, she hadn’t won a race in 15 months thanks to a global pandemic that forced cancellations across the 2020 calendar. She proceeded to win seven races in less than eight months, including four Ironman 70.3 events.
When Salthouse caught up with the Race Shop in April, she was blown away by her start.
To come out guns blazing like that was incredible.
- Ellie Salthouse
“To come out guns blazing like that was incredible, and then to be able to keep it going across four months — for me, that’s unheard of,” Salthouse said. “Typically, I’ve struggled to put together a string of really solid races, so for me to be able to put together four in four months is a dream start to the year.”
The 28-year-old went to one of the most complete seasons of her career, setting herself up to chase potentially even bigger prizes in 2022.
Kanute also has his eyes on triathlon’s biggest races this season. He firmly reiterated that he’s one of the United States’ fastest triathletes in 2021, winning Escape from Alcatraz and leading Ironman 70.3 California wire-to-wire. He also posted the fourth fastest men’s time at Collins Cup and finished sixth at Ironman 70.3 World Championships in St. George. That latter result emphasized just how hungry he is to finish atop the world.
“I had some very good results this year, and a few underwhelming ones, but I was really looking forward to racing in St. George after having some good training leading in,” Kanute said after the race. “This is a good result, but leaves me wanting much more. I am encouraged by a lot of things in this race, and it shows a lot of potential for returning to the same venue for Worlds next year.”
Watch for Kanute to go all out in 2022.
Lawrence’s 2021 summer started off hot, with a win at Ironman 70.3 Des Moines and second place at the Ironman 70.3 European Championship in Elsinore, both raced one week apart in June. Unfortunately, she struggled to hit the high standard she set for her later season goals, posting the 15th fastest women’s time at Collins Cup, and taking eighth at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, where she won in 2016 and took second in 2019.
Lawrence is looking forward to a bounceback season with a proper offseason under her belt. At her best, there may not be a faster triathlete in the world. Look for Lawrence to be back on a podium soon.
Likewise, O’Donnell’s season didn’t finish how he hoped. He suffered a health scare at Challenge Miami that derailed his season and threatened his career.
O’Donnell is working himself back into competitive shape, however, with hopes of taking the start line in Kona. There may be no one more determined than TO, making him one of the must-watch competitors in triathlon this season.
The Trek difference
Whatever happens at the finish line, the TFR squad will continue to separate themselves by their competitiveness, enthusiasm and tight-knit spirit. And the Trek Race Shop will support the athletes with that same vigor, making sure that all their needs are taken care of despite an often unpredictable schedule.
That level of support is perhaps the biggest reason why Yee and Knibb joined the squad. Yee had already been riding within the Trek family before getting called up to TFR. The way Trek helped him during the pandemic confirmed that Trek was his home.
“Trek just stood by me, and I think that says a lot about the brand and the culture,” Yee said. “I really sat on the start line believing I have the best equipment, and I’m incredibly lucky to have that. I think that the work that Trek does, and the support they give me, is second to none. I’m really lucky to have that behind me, and hopefully long may it last.”
I think that the work that Trek does, and the support they give me, is second to none.
- Alex Yee
Knibb is stepping under the Trek umbrella for the first time, but she knew that Trek was where she wanted to be from talking to people who were more experienced with triathlon’s landscape. She saw a place where she could be happy for a long time.
“I wanted to create partnerships and relationships now that I could see lasting for the entirety of my career,” Knibb said.
2022 should be the best year yet for TFR Triathlon, with more athletes than ever who are hungry to prove themselves. You won’t want to miss a second of what could one of the most fascinating racing seasons in years.