By Merryn Sherwood on 26/07/11 at 8:20 am
This year’s Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series is more than halfway over, after Hamburg marked the fourth race of the seven-race series. Now, with just London, the sprint distance Lausanne round, the huge Beijing Grand Final and the re-scheduled Yokohama round to come, we look at what has happened so far this year, in Sydney, Madrid, Kitzbühel and Hamburg, and what is still to come.
The Race Winners
When it comes to actual series race wins in 2011, Paula Findlay and Alistair Brownlee have dominated. Findlay proved that her 2010 season - where she claimed two Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series wins - wasn’t a fluke when she won the season opener in Sydney, before going on to smash the field in Madrid and Kitzbühel. Findlay’s most impressive attribute has been her kick, it’s been amazing to watch her employ it in each race and just fly away from the rest of the women in the field. Although Helen Jenkins came close in Austria, Findlay still looks to have everyone covered. She is now has the equal most wins of any female athlete in the series, Findlay was ahead of Emma Moffatt before the Australian claimed her fifth to equal Findlay in Hamburg. Alistair Brownlee didn’t have the best opening day in Sydney, when he slipped on a rain-slicked course and finished 29th and instead watched as younger brother Jonathan Brownlee finished second behind Javier Gomez. But Alistair certainly made up for that in Madrid and Kitzbühel, when he stormed home to take both. In Madrid, he even had enough time to stop, wait for his brother and give him a hug before crossing the line.
How the Dextro Triathlon Energy Series works
Instead of one set of ITU World Championship races, the series now spreads across seven races, six rounds and then a Grand Final. Each round carries 800 rankings points for the winner and a total prize pool of $150,000 - equal for men and women. The Grand Final has more at stake with double ranking points and a total of $250,000 USD. The 2011 ITU World Champions will be crowned after the Beijing Grand Final, as well as the $500,000 USD cash in the bonus prize pool.
The Series Leaders
While Brownlee and Findlay have won the most victories this season, two and three titles respectively, sitting out Hamburg means they are not currently in the lead in the rankings. Overall, that’s what the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship series is about. Remember that last year Emma Moffatt didn’t actually win a race title, but her consistent podium performances were enough for her claim her second consecutive world title. Therefore, it can’t be overlooked that Javier Gomez and Barbara Riveros Diaz are currently leading the 2011 rankings after the last round in Hamburg. Gomez is sitting on 2027 points, ahead of Great Britain’s William Clarke with 1935. David Hauss (FRA) is in third with 1907 points. Swiss Sven Riederer, Russia’s Alexander Brukhankov and Dmitry Polyanksy, Alistair Brownlee, Jonathan Brownlee, Aussie Brad Kahlefeldt and Joao Silva of Portugal round out the top 10. In the women’s field, Riveros Diaz hasn’t finished lower than fifth in a race this season, and is just ahead of Paula Findlay at 2498 points. Findlay has 2400 points, a perfect 800 points from the three races she has competed in so far. New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt is in third, Moffatt in fourth, followed by American Laura Bennett, Helen Jenkins (GBR), Sarah Groff of the U.S., German Svenja Bazlen, Spain’s Ainhoa Murua and Britain’s Jodie Stimpson in the women’s top 10.
He came into the season opener as the reigning ITU World Champion but the race looked over for Javier Gomez when he slipped off his bike in Sydney. Once he got back on his bike, he had to ride solo for final 10 kilometres. Still, that didn’t put him off as he beat wet and slippery conditions, caught and then overtook the leaders before outpacing Jonathan Brownlee in the final few kilometres. Afterwards, Gomez said it was one of the toughest races of his career. While it didn’t happen in a race, Australia’s Chris McCormack deserves a mention in this category too. Almost 14 years after winning an ITU world title (back in 1997), he’s back with an aim to make the Australian Olympic team. Cold and rainy Kitzbühel wasn’t kind to Macca in his first race back, but in Hamburg he did a ton of work on the bike chase and finished a respectable 26th.
Sprint finishes happened pretty regularly over the 2009 and 2010 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series, but waiting a bit longer for one in 2011 probably made the Brad Kahlefeldt, Will Clarke and David Hauss battle in Hamburg even more exciting. After going toe-to-toe for the final kilometre, it initially looked like Clarke had it before a final burst from Kahlefeldt sealed his first Hamburg win – after nine years of trying. It was also Kahlefeldt’s first Dextro Energy Triathlon Series gold medal, and was the first series win for an Australian athlete in 2011. Honourable mentions to Helen Jenkins and Paula Findlay in Kitzbühel, Findlay admitted afterwards it was the hardest she’d been pushed this season and to that brotherly hug between the Brownlees in Madrid.
Not only was it the first time in series history that one country had swept the podium, but surely the first time in any ITU triathlon event that three athletes from the same country also shared the same name. But Emma Moffatt, Emma Jackson and Emma Snowsill managed just that when they completed the all-Australian, all-Emma hat trick in Hamburg. That there was two Emmas wasn’t exactly surprising, Snowsill and Moffatt have both dominated the triathlon scene since 2008, but the third shows that podiums might have to make way for another of the same name. Jackson is the current Under23 women’s world champion and Hamburg was her best result in the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series.
The Personal Best
While all the usual suspects have dominated the top of series podiums so far this year, there have been a host of athletes stake their claim on the series this year. Those who have claimed their first podium include Will Clarke, Emma Jackson and Sarah Groff. Groff’s bronze in Kitzbühel was the first for an American woman in series history. We’re also giving a special mention to Nicola Spirig, whose lower leg stress fractures actually may have helped her improve her complete three-leg performance. In previous years Spirig had exited the water back from the front pack, but her excellent bike skills saw her create the ‘Spirig Train’, where she would pull riders from a chase group up into the leading pack. When she made her 2011 season debut in Hamburg this year, its clear all that extra time in the pool had made a difference, she exited with the leaders in the swim. If she can keep leading in the bike from the front, you can expect last year’s World Championship silver medallist will try to make a breakaway.
Jan Frodeno hadn’t had a great start to the season but when it came to Hamburg, the Olympic champion looked primed to finally get to the top of the podium in his home race after two close seconds. Frodeno was with the leaders heading into the final bike lap, before a large bolt became wedged in his front wheel. Game over. But to his credit, Frodeno kept going and looked to be having fun the way he was working up the crowd. Outside of Hamburg, there was a fair bit of bad luck in the season opener in Sydney, with Alistair Brownlee’s slip on a wet course costing him what was surely a podium spot and a crash that stopped the race for Groff and Kirsten Sweetland and put Jenkins out of podium contention.
This one doesn’t need many words, but we couldn’t decide between the best runner’s trophy, the excellent set of antlers from Kitzbühel or the ship’s wheel in Hamburg? Basically, they are both awesome. What do you think?
The rest of the 2011 Dextro Energy Triathlon Series
August 6 - Elite Women’s Race at 10am (GMT + 1 hour)
August 7 - Elite Men’s Race at 2.30pm (GMT + 1 hour)
August 20 - Elite Sprint Distance Women’s Race at 1pm (GMT + 2 hours)
August 20 - Elite Sprint Distance Men’s Race at 3.20pm (GMT + 2 hours)
BEIJING GRAND FINAL
September 10 - Elite Men’s Race at 1.30pm (GMT + 8 hours)
September 11 - Elite Women’s Race at 12.30pm (GMT + 8 hours)
What’s to come
Some of the most intriguing races are still to come in 2011. London is one of the biggest events in international triathlon this year, not only is it a Dextro Energy Triathlon Series round, its on next year’s Olympic course – the only time athletes get to race on it before next year – and the event is a qualifier for many National Federations, including the U.S., Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It’s a fast, flat course, and will be the perfect Olympic preview. Then there is the sprint round in Lausanne, which also doubles as the second ITU Sprint World Championships in history. Most of the top triathletes will also compete in the Team Triathlon World Championships – although these results will not count towards the individual series rankings.
Then the series heads to Beijing for the 2011 Grand Final with more rankings points, more prize money and the $500,000 USD bonus pool. Beijing is a tough course that demands an all-round strong triathlete, and no doubt current Olympic champions Emma Snowsill and Jan Frodeno will be keen to replicate their success on the course they struck gold on in 2008. Also don’t forget that the 2011 season doesn’t end in Beijing, but will continue in Yokohama - the event which was rescheduled from May due to the devastating earthquakes in Japan. The 2011 Yokohama race points will count towards 2012 rankings.