In his first ITU race appearance since the 2012 London Olympics, Tyler Butterfield earned eighth place at Sunday’s Huatulco ITU Triathlon World Cup in Huatulco, Mexico. The race’s purpose was two-fold for Butterfield, serving as a starting point in the collection of critical Olympic qualifying points and a valuable gauge of his initial fitness as he kicks off the two-year road to Rio 2016.
After exiting the swim one minute behind the leaders, Butterfield drove a punishing pace on the bike to bridge the first and second packs, which ultimately combined into a group of 35 fast men. Intending to work within this group, Butterfield saw another opportunity to excel following a descent and a sharp corner. A gap opened and his competitive instinct told him to go; he did and was followed by six others to create a breakaway. One of the competitors dropped off, unable to hold the pack’s pace, but six men remained in a successful attack group until they reached the end of the eight-lap course with a 1:33 lead. Butterfield’s aggressive ride was slightly tempered by his run and he ended up eighth overall at the race’s end.
As compared to 2012 when Butterfield finished fourth in the same event while collecting ITU points toward London qualification, his swim and run were a few minutes slower and his bike a few minutes faster. While extremely pleased to run as well as he did off the hot, hilly, hard-paced bike, Butterfield is well aware that both his swim and run need to improve en route to what will hopefully be his third Olympic bid.
“I am very excited with my finish today,” said Butterfield. “It’s my third best ITU result ever at this level and a great start to try to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. It is a very positive sign, but I am under no illusion that it will be an easy task over the next two years. This is just a good starting point for the long road ahead. I am very pleased with the day and will take the result, but I know there is still a lot of work to do as the two-year qualification period progresses.”
Butterfield now travels home to Boulder where he’ll spend one week with his family before departing for France to prepare for Ironman Nice on June 29th. The Huatulco race added an important training boost to his Ironman preparation, as will time spent with his manager, Jacky Everaerdt, who lives in Nice and has intimate knowledge of the course. Not only is Butterfield looking forward to learning the ins and outs of this iconic event, but also to spending time in such a beautiful venue in advance of his next race day battle.