By Erin Greene on 14/05/13 at 9:50 am
World Cup action heats up with the third race of the circuit in Huatulco, Mexico, set for Sunday. This is the sixth year the tourist destination has been part of the World Cup calendar, and the scorching heat is part of the unique challenge facing athletes preparing to toe the line. An ocean swim and a tough hill in the middle of the bike course and at the start of the run loop will test the field, which includes nine London Olympians.
Austrian Olympian Lisa Perterer tops the women’s start list following a 12th-place finish in her 2013 season opener at the World Triathlon San Diego, another sunny locale. Perterer’s main competition may come in the form of two other Olympians, Pamela Oliveira (BRA) and Claudia Rivas (MEX), both of whom raced to podium finishes last year in Huatulco. Oliveira can distance herself from the field early with a strong swim, which she has proven so far this year with performances in San Diego and a Pan American Cup event in Brazil.
In addition to Oliveira and Rivas, two other top-10 finishers from last year are also on the start list - Yuliya Yelistratova (UKR) and Mateja Simic (SLO). These women will no doubt have an advantage over those without experience battling the course and the heat.
Paola Diaz will be aiming for a top finish in her home country in her fifth race of the season, following four top-10 finishes in Pan American events so far this year including a win in Lima.
Italy’s Gaia Peron is the only athlete with a World Cup race under her belt in 2013, earning 10th in Ishigaki where she recorded the fastest swim split of the day. Joanna Brown (CAN) could also be a contender after a top-20 finish against a tough field at the World Triathlon Series stop in San Diego.
The men’s race is open for the taking. Aurelien Raphael (FRA) and Crisanto Grajales (MEX) have each garnered podium finishes in early-season Continental Cups and faced off against tough competition on the World Triathlon Series circuit in San Diego back in April.
But the real threat could come from Lukas Verzbicas (USA). The rising star put himself on the fast track to a break through season last year with his impressive run speed that earned him a win at the Banyoles World Cup. However, a training accident curtailed the second half of his season. Verzbicas returns to the ITU circuit and if his form is anything like last year, he will be one to watch on the run.
Canadian Andrew Yorke enters the race as the top-ranked athlete in the World Triathlon Series on the men’s side, but he will have to build on his finishes from Auckland and San Diego if he wants a podium finish in Huatulco. He finished sixth at this race in 2012, logging the fastest bike split of the day.
Spain’s Ivan Rana and Brazil’s Bruno Matheus will help push the pace following top-20 performances in San Diego. This will be Rana’s second ITU race of the season, following a strong eighth-place finish at the World Triathlon Series Grand Final in Auckland in October. Matheus looks to add to his podium finish at an April Pan American Cup in Brazil.
The Pan American Cup scene has been a success for Felipe Barraza (CHI), Leonardo Chacon (CRC), Irving Perez (MEX) and Luciano Taccone (ARG), who have all collected multiple gold medals in Pan American Cup finishes to start the year. These men will be aiming to add more hardware to their collections here.
Both the men’s and women’s races will be held on Sunday 19 May. The women begin at 8 a.m., with the men scheduled to start at 10:45 a.m. local time. Follow all the action live on twitter at triathlonlive.
Preview written by Lindsay Wyskowski
Find more details about this event - 2013 Huatulco ITU Triathlon World Cup