Keane Two Races from Rio

Bryan Keane Tongyeong Bike

Bryan Keane heads in to the first of two crucial races this weekend as he bids to clinch a spot at the Rio Olympic Games in August.

Currently ranked 49th on the ITU 2016 Olympic Qualification List, Keane is on the cusp of securing his place. But with just 55 athletes heading to the games in August, he will need to repeat his recent performances in Huatulco, Mexico this weekend and in Yokohama, Japan next weekend to be assured of qualifying.

Keane is ranked number six on the start list and will line up against most of the other athletes, who alongside him are battling to be in the top 55 athletes who will be awarded a place when the Olympic qualification period ends on May 15th.

Speaking from a sweltering Huatulco, TI's High Performance Director Tommy Evans said both the race and the conditions are the most demanding on the ITU circuit.

"The hill (on the bike course) is brutal, we are using a 39-28 to get up it, then it’s really fast descent off it. The temperature is about 35 or 36C and it's so humid that after 20mins on the bike you are soaking."

"This is going to be a race of resilience and strength, it won’t be a fast race and we picked this one out right from the beginning against the sprint distance races because it’s a more suitable course, the demanding bike course suits Bryan, it's a tough course and Bryan is full of grit and can tolerate the heat well," Tommy Evans added.

"With regard to Olympic qualification, everyone that's around him that's important is here so we can keep an eye on them. On a normal year I would be telling Bryan to try to win this race, now we don’t need a podium but if we get on it, that's fantastic. 

The men's race at Huatulco kicks off at 08:30am local time on Sunday (2:30pm Irish time) and you can follow all of the action with live timing at triathlon.org/live and with tweet updates at @triathlonlive.

Ben Shaw Cape Town 2016

Shaw, White & Doherty Race Inaugural Cagliari World Cup

Meanwhile thousands of kilometres away in Italy, Keane's High Performance teammates Ben Shaw, Russel White and development athlete Con Doherty will line out in Cagliari for the first ever World Cup race to be held in Italy.

The presence of a number of athletes vying with Keane for a place in Rio gives the sprint distance event additional interest from an Irish perspective and the performances of Norweigan Kirstian Blumenfeld, ranked two places behind Keane on the Rio List; and Ron Darmon who is three places ahead could prove important.

Because of this, Shaw, White and Doherty will be aware of the wider tactical picture heading in to the race.

According to Ben Shaw, "As with all events so far this year, personal goals are secondary to ensuring I do not advantage athletes from other nations that are close to Bryan Keane in the Olympic rankings."

"For example in the Cape Town World Series I never tried to bridge to the front group on the bike as there were guys from other nations that would have benefitted and negatively affected Irelands Olympic qualification. This situation will be reinforced by our Technical Director to all the Irish men competing this weekend."

Shaw is focusing his season on the European Championships and World Series race in Leeds and says Cagliari will help keep him in touch with racing before these events.

The women's race at Cagliari starts at 10:30am (09:30am Irish time) on Sunday, while the men compete at 12:30pm (11:30am Irish time).

As always, you can follow all of the action live on triathlon.org/live and on twitter at @triathlonlive.