By Erin Greene on 03/04/14 at 6:08 am
The start of the World Triathlon Series reads like a who’s who list of triathlete stars with eight of the top 10 women set to compete in Auckland. In its third year on the WTS schedule, the hilly course promises to provide a thrilling and challenging start to the year.
Brits are back
While Non Stanford will sit out the WTS season opener, the ladies will still be well represented with 2013 world champ runner-up Jodie Stimpson stepping up to the line in Auckland. The race will also see the return of two-time World Champion Helen Jenkins, who sat out the 2013 season due to injury. Solid across all disciplines, Jenkins can do it all, making her a threat compared to other leading ladies who struggle in at least one leg of the race.
Rise of the Americans
Gwen Jorgensen didn’t just set the course for American women last year, she single handedly blazed the trail when she became the first US female to win not one WTS title, but three of them in a single season. While a crash took her out of the running for the World Championship title, Jorgensen was back in the gold business one month ago at the Mooloolaba World Cup. The American has been working on her swim and bike, which can only mean trouble for the competition, especially considering she took second in the race two years ago by saddling up the competition with the fastest run split by 41 seconds.
But this year Jorgensen might have company from her compatriots with rookie Katie Hursey bursting out of the starting blocks already this year. After collecting two World Cup titles in her first year as an elite, Hursey followed up her performances with a strong run to win in New Plymouth after finishing second to Jorgensen Down Under. Don’t count out Olympian Sarah Groff who knows how to get the job done when it comes down to it.
The hills have Haug
If the Auckland course is suited for anyone, it’s without a doubt German powerhouse Anne Haug. The small but mighty Haug has won the race the last two years despite set backs on the swim. The hilly bike is just no problem for Haug who easily bridges up from 45 second deficits time and again.
Depth of field
The women’s competition is a mixed bag in terms of who can come out on top. While there are some distinct favourites, the women feature an impressive depth on the start lists, all whom possess varying strengths. Beijing Olympic bronze medallist Emma Moffatt is a consistent performer on the women’s circuit with three podium finishes last year. Like Jenkins, she and New Zealand’s own Andrea Hewitt can push the pace in the swim, bike and run. After taking silver in Auckland two years ago, Barbara Riveros Diaz (CHI) is well built to take on the hilly climbs. Likewise, Maaike Caelers (NED) took second last year suggesting she can shine on Sunday.
How to watch
The women’s race will start at 12:10pm local time on Sunday, April 6, while the men open their WTS season later in the day at 3:40pm local time. If you haven’t already, buy your season pass to watch the races live at triathlonlive.tv. You can also follow along live on twitter @worldtriathlon. Don’t forget to pick your podium with our new fantasy triathlon game TRIFECTA.
Find more details about this event - 2014 ITU World Triathlon Auckland