The 2011 ITU Team Triathlon World Championships are quickly gaining momentum with only 100 days left until the competition kicks off in the beautiful Olympic city of Lausanne, Switzerland. It looks as if it will be a packed start line with over 30 different nations having stated they will send teams to the event. The discipline’s Olympic ambitions are getting a boost with the event being broadcast live on TV across the world.
A hugely competitive field is expected in Lausanne, as the ITU Triathlon World Sprint Championships will be held the day before the team event. This race will carry points towards the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series, and so the best of the best are expected to make the trip to Lausanne for the two-day race combination. This could make for some of the most exhilarating racing we have ever seen, as nations will have the opportunity to pit their superstars against each other, in one of the most exciting formats the sport has to offer.
While each nation is free to choose the make-up of their team, there are some mouth-watering prospects in store. Team Switzerland are the reigning champions and could be forgiven for not altering the line up of Daniela Ryf, Ruedi Wild, Nicola Spirig and Sven Riederer who took the title in such style last year. On a short but hilly course, the Swiss team seems to have a perfect combination of speed and strength.
This year however, the competition is expected to be substantially tougher and depending on athlete availability, fitness, and team tactics we could see some dream combinations. How exciting is the prospect of an Australian team comprised of Emma Snowsill, Emma Moffatt, Courtney Atkinson and Brad Kahlefeldt? With Brendan Sexton showing some great form at the Monterrey ITU Triathlon World Cup, this adds more depth to the team. The shorter distances also open up options for the Aussie selectors with the likes of Emma Jackson, Felicity Abram and Ashleigh Gentle.
The Australian “dream team” who were beaten by Switzerland in 2009.
A New Zealand team with Bevan Docherty, Kris Gemmell, Andrea Hewitt and Debbie Tanner could pack some punch. Add to the mix the options of Kate Mcllroy, Tony Dodds, Nicky Samuels and Ryan Sissons and there’s a strong mix of speed and experience. A Canadian team with Simon Whitfield and Paula Findlay would excite international and North American fans alike.
What nation wouldn’t be intimidated at the prospect of seeing the Brownlee Brothers compete alongside the likes of Helen Jenkins, Vicky Holland or Hollie Avil? There will be tough decisions facing selectors in choosing their teams. Take the British team for example – how to choose from a talented pool of men such as the Brownlees, Tim Don, Will Clarke and Stuart Hayes. The Russian team would have to think long and hard about their men’s selection with Brukhankov, Polyansky, Turbayivskyy and Meshcheryakov all to choose from. Equally the Japanese selectors might have a hard time choosing between Adachi, Sakimoto, Ueda and Youth Olympic Games gold medallist Yuka Sato.
The story is repeated for the German team who would have to debate long and hard if all their athletes were fit and available. Who to choose on any given day from Jan Frodeno, Steffen Justus and Maik Petzold if all are fit and healthy? Add some of the up and coming German woman to this team, such as recent Monterrey bronze medallist Anne Haug and talented Rebecca Robisch, and there’s a formidable team there also.
Spain could see speedsters Javier Gomez and Mario Mola line up together. Gomez recently stated that in his opinion Mola has the potential to be faster than him. That’s a scary prospect to behold. However, the Spanish team might struggle to find two women to match the level of their men’s side with only Ainhoa Murua performing consistently on a high level last year.
The French team will always be a threat and claimed the silver medal in last year’s competition. Also the USA’s line up will be interesting now that the Sprint race carries Series points. Strong swim-bikers such as Sarah Haskins, Laura Bennett and Sarah Groff might be able to make enough distance on the bike to bring in an advantage on the run. Matt Charbot could also be suited to the hilly bike course, while Jarrod Shoemaker’s speed on the run could be his advantage.
However, national selectors may also be considering other factors when they choose their line ups. The team event is different both physically and mentally. The distances are much shorter than Olympic distance so the selectors will be looking for the best sprinters - athletes who have proven their ability to perform at these distances. This is potentially good news for some of the younger athletes. However, with such short distances any mishaps or mistakes are severely punished. Compound this with the pressure of competing in a team environment and the expectations of your teammates and it can quickly take its toll on inexperienced athletes. Experience and composure will be vital, as one poor transition, or missed break could cost a team dearly.
Did you know the format of team triathlon is?
1st Woman: swim, bike, run
2nd Man: swim, bike, run
3rd Woman: swim, bike, run
4th Man: swim, bike, run
Distances:275m swim, 6km bike, 1.5 mk run
To date, teams from every continent have put their names forward for the competition, aiming to take the title away from Switzerland. In fact the size of the transition area could be the limiting factor in determining how many teams a nation can enter. In the past, nations have been able to send multiple teams, but with the added popularity of the event, space is becoming a factor in considering how to accommodate the potential number of teams which want to enter.
The official team format adopted for the ITU Team Triathlon World Championships is the 4 x mixed relay. Each team is composed of two men and two women. Each athlete completes a super-sprint triathlon of swimming, biking and running, before tagging off to their next teammate. The distances for the 2011 ITU Team Triathlon Championships in Lausanne event are 4 x (275m swim, 6km bike, and 1.5km run). The order of the team members are fixed, with first and third team members being women and the second and fourth are the men. Each nation is free to decide the make-up of its team.
Team Switzerland are the defending team world champions, but this year will be their toughest test yet. Read the interview with National Coach Iwan Schuwey.
New Zealand has a special place in triathlon history and they hope to create more at the ITU Team Triathlon World Championships.
Australia has dominated the sport since it's foundation, and now are focusing their attention on the Team Championships.