By Brad Culp on 05/04/10 at 7:10 am
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A preview of the series opener and the main contenders
Courtney Atkinson has been forced to withdraw from the opening race of the Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Series in Sydney this Sunday, after failing to recover fully from a debilitating virus.
The Queenslander raced in the Mooloolaba World Cup last weekend on limited preparation and has not recovered sufficiently to put his body through the rigour of another Olympic-distance event.
The news is a further blow to the Australian team, following the earlier withdrawal of Olympic champion Emma Snowsill, though the news is better in regard to defending ITU world champion Emma Moffatt, who is looking more and more likely to take her place in the field after making promising progress in recovering from a shoulder injury.
Atkinson’s withdrawal places added pressure on fellow Olympian Brad Kahlefeldt, who is Australia’s main hope in the men’s field following his solid win in the Mooloolaba World Cup.
“My recovery from the Mooloolaba World Cup wasn’t as good as expected and I had some unexpected complications ongoing from the illness I was carrying,” Atkinson said. “It is a long season with 10 to 15 races planned over the next five months, so this is a small hick-up in a big year.
Atkinson added, “I am so close to being 100 per cent that it is such a hard decision not to race our home World Championship event, but I think it is the right decision considering my aim is to win the World Championship and 90 percent of that racing will be in Europe in two to four months time. One race can’t win the whole series, but interrupted preparation can cause ongoing problems for the whole year.”
Triathlon Australia’s Director of High Performance Michael Flynn said a final decision was yet to be made on Moffatt’s availability, but suggested the signs were looking good following a number of strong swim sessions.
“We’re yet to make a decision on Emma – that could take up to 48 hours – but at this stage she looks OK. The final decision rests with Emma and we’ll give her every possible chance.”
Another late withdraw from the Sydney start list is Spain’s Javier Gomez, who finished second in the world rankings last season. The Spaniard is dealing with a minor hip injury and has decided not to race as a precautionary measure.
Find more details about this event - 2010 Dextro Energy Triathlon - ITU World Championship Series Sydney