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Mislawchuk is fifth in the International Triathlon Union’s men’s world rankings heading into Saturday’s world series grand final in Lausanne, Switzerland.Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Tyler Mislawchuk races with his heart. Adding his head has made for a breakout triathlon season.

So far in 2019, the 25-year-old Manitoban won his first career World Cup races, earned his first world triathlon series podium and was victorious in a Tokyo 2020 test race.

Mislawchuk is fifth in the International Triathlon Union’s men’s world rankings heading into Saturday’s world series grand final in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Confidence and maturing race instincts in the 1.5-kilometre swim, 40-km bike and 10-km run were the difference in his season.

“I definitely am an emotional racer,” Mislawchuk told The Canadian Press. “I feed off that. That can be good and bad.

“For me, it’s channelling how I use my mental energy. Probably one of the bigger things for me between this year and previous years, I really have a deep-down self-belief I can do it.”

His coach of 18 months says Mislawchuk is a driven athlete learning how to harness that hunger.

“He really wants to win,” Jonathan Hall said. “There’s actually a point where you can want something too much, where potentially that changes your ability to achieve that as an outcome.

“He’s actually figured out when he needs to apply his ability and the timing of it and how much. It looks like it’s clicked.”

In a footrace with Casper Stornes over the final metres in an Aug. 16 race in Tokyo, Mislawchuk exploded by the Norwegian with a late burst of speed for the win on the 2020 Olympic course.

“As soon as I surged by him, I completely forgot about anyone else,” Mislawchuk explained. “I was just focusing completely on myself for about 50 metres.”

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are less than a year away. High heat and humidity are predicted.

At 5 foot 8 and 132 pounds, Mislawchuk fares better in sauna conditions than larger athletes who have more mass to move and keep cool.

“I’m a small-framed guy, but that bodes well for the heat,” he explained. “I’ve always done well in it when I was young, which is kind of funny coming from Winnipeg.”

Mislawchuk finished 15th in his Olympic debut in 2016 despite racing with a stress fracture in his leg. He returned from Rio on crutches and couldn’t run again until 2017.

After a handful of top-10 results last year, he opened this season with World Cup wins in Mooloolaba, Australia, and Huatulco, Mexico.

“I said to a few other people that I thought once he got his first win, it could open the floodgates a little bit,” Hall said.

Mislawchuk is among 18 Canadians competing at in Lausanne.

Junior and under-23 races are Friday, followed by Saturday’s men’s and women’s elite events and Sunday’s para-triathlon.

Calgary para-triathlete Stefan Daniel is ranked No. 1 in the world in his classification and also won the men’s race in the Tokyo test event.

The grand final caps the nine-race world series that determines the year’s world champions.

Mislawchuk won bronze in the sixth race of the series in Montreal in July.

He and Hall plotted his season around peaking for the Tokyo test event because it was a dress rehearsal for 2020.

Mission accomplished, the triathlete isn’t set up for an optimal performance in Lausanne. Still, despite the travel and short recovery, Mislawchuk still wants to challenge the top men in the world.

“I have good shape and good fitness coming from Tokyo, but the course is very different than Tokyo,” he said. “It’s very hilly. It will be a bit cooler, a bit of a different game plan, but at the end of the day I would love to get on the podium.

“Tokyo kind of gave me an eye-opener as to what’s possible.”

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