The world’s best triathletes are touching down in Madrid, ready for a ‘battle Royale’ in round two of the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series. The race, with its challenging bike course and often stifling temperatures, is one of the toughest on the ITU circuit. The race has never failed to deliver nail-biting finishes.
In the men’s race in 2010 Alistair Brownlee, showed his true character when, after a pre-season plagued with injury, he came back to defend his Madrid title with what he described afterwards as his best race ever. Brownlee broke away from Australian Courtney Atkinson in the last 400m to claim the gold.
In 2009, the women’s race saw a thrilling photo finish in which Lisa Norden and Andrea Hewitt were only separated by hundredths of a second, after almost two hours of racing. It was a nail-biting finish to a spectacular race.
It looks like 2011 will be no different with a star studded line up which includes all current Olympic and World Champions. The Aussie contingent will feature defending World Champion Emma Moffatt, Olympic champion Emma Snowsill in the women’s field while Beijing Olympians Brad Kahlefeldt and Courtney Atkinson will be joined in the men’s field by Monterrey World Cup winner Brendan Sexton.
“We’ve always performed very successfully in Madrid so hopefully we’ll be able to get some good results. It is going to be a tough, hilly course and there will be no leniency for a bad discipline, the pace is going to be ‘on’ from the opening swim leg. I think some of our guys have learnt from recent races that you just can’t afford to get too far back in the pack,“ said Australia’s National and AIS Head Coach Shaun Stephens, who has been over-seeing the majority of the team’s preparation in Australia’s French training base in Aix-le-Bains for the past fortnight.
Stephens said he has been in regular touch with Snowsill, who has been in her German-based training camp and she will be determined not to give anything away in the swim. Snowsill was a disappointing 42nd in Sydney and spent the next two weeks soul searching, according to a recent media report in Australia.
“Knowing Snowy [Emma Snowsill] she will come out as determined as ever in Madrid after putting in some good training over the past two or three weeks and I know Moffy [Emma Moffatt] is in the same frame of mind,” said Stephens.
Moffatt was also disappointed with her last start World Championship which saw her finish 13th in the race won by Canadian Paula Findlay.
After the race Moffatt admitted: “It’s clear I have to improve on that if I want to go well in the series. It was not the result I wanted, especially at home where you naturally want to go well.”
All eyes will be on Findlay who proved that last season was no fluke with her impressive win in Sydney. The soft-spoken Canadian will be aiming to make it two in a row in Madrid, and her meteoric rise is not that dissimilar to that of Alistair Brownlee in the 2009 season. Both athletes have a disarming baby-faced look, but take no prisoners when it comes to race day. On last reports Findlay was boarding a plane to Madrid with a very efficiently packed bike bag.
Canadian superstar Paula Findlay posted a picture displaying the art of packing a bike box, before she left for the Spanish capital.
All eyes in the men’s race will be on Javier Gomez and the Brownlee brothers, after their battle in Sydney. Gomez who has a point to prove on home soil, has been busy all week with media commitments, but is squarely focused on taking gold in front of his home crowd. After his devastating performance in Sydney, one would be hard pressed to bet against the Spaniard taking the top podium spot on home turf.
Gomez has been busy with heavy media commitments for his home race.
Alistair Brownlee, will hope to regain his composure after tweeting about his panic over a pre departure hunt for his passport, which he misplaced. Normally one would expect the 2009 World Champion to be in typically relaxed form, when he takes to the start line to defend his Madrid title on Saturday; however with younger brother Jonathan wearing number two in the race there might be added pressure knowing that the standard of racing will never have been as high in Madrid.
Finally Frenchman Laurent Vidal will make his return to ITU racing, after a worrying absence due to medical reasons.
“From that the doctors tell me I am not suffering from any disease or any dysfunction but from what they call Neurocardiogenic Syncope. It is an over adaptation of the vagal nerve and in some circumstances this nerve is causing a sudden drop in blood pressure and eventually I collapse.”
Vidal’s condition is not a sickness and not dangerous for his overall health. It is frustrating however, as doctors are unable to determine why it happens or provide a sure-fire cure.
“I am looking forward to racing consistently and scoring some good points but also to check my form in Madrid. Before this all happened in Sydney, I had a great feeling for the season. I’ve had to change my plan a bit but my main goal remains Olympic qualification.”
You can watch all the exhilarating action from the comfort of your own home, or on the go via your mobile device. We will be offering full live video coverage of the race via www.triathlonlive.tv.
On race day you can enjoy live video, audio and timing updates with full lap and split times. There will be over 26 camera positions around the course as well as motorcycle, boat and helicopter cameras. You will have the best view in the house. Audio, text and timing updates are completely free and you can upgrade to video at any time. Why not get involved via our live text application also and give your opinion on the race and support your favourite athlete?
Not only can you watch the races live, but you can watch them again in their entirety, only hours after they end. If it’s athlete interviews and behind the scenes action you’re looking for, then make sure to tune into our one hour magazine show which will be available on the Wednesday after the race on www.triathlonlive.tv.
The 2011 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Madrid round officially gets underway when the men’s race starts at 10am (local time) on Saturday June 4. The women’s race starts at 2:30pm on Sunday June 5.