By Merryn Sherwood on 11/07/11 at 6:34 am
The battle for the 2011 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series will pass the halfway mark in Hamburg and one thing is almost certain, both leaderboards are set for a shake up this weekend in Germany.
Both men’s and women’s series leaders, Alistair Brownlee and Paula Findlay, will not race in Hamburg and there are plenty of contenders to take their place at the top of the rankings. Although, it will be tough for anyone to overtake Findlay with a substantial lead after a perfect 2400-point score after three races. However, there is almost certainly going to be a new men’s leader at the end of their race on Saturday.
Hamburg has been on the international ITU circuit since 2002, hosted the ITU World Championships in 2007, before becoming one of the stops in the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series. The entire city centre shuts down for a huge triathlon party, and it’s no wonder Hamburg has over 10,000 age-group spots and is one of the biggest triathlon events in the world.
Elite Men’s Preview
This season was billed as the Brownlee brothers versus Javier Gomez and so far its mostly turned out that way, but if he plays his cards right in Hamburg there is every chance that Russian Alexander Brukhankov can steal the limelight and top the series lead at the end of the Hamburg round. Brukhankov is currently sitting second behind Alistair Brownlee in the rankings, but neither Alistair nor Jonathan Brownlee are racing in Hamburg. Gomez is racing and if he wins, could jump to the top, but Brukhankov currently owns a 178-point ranking lead. Put simply, if Brukhankov can finish in the top four he should take the lead in the overall standings.
Gomez is still one of the favourites though, on a course he’s won twice before; last year’s Dextro Energy Triathlon Series race and a 2006 World Cup race, even though the reigning World Champion’s season hasn’t exactly gone as planned. After a race that he described as one of the toughest in his whole career to start the season, when he rode solo for more than 10 kilometres in Sydney and then caught Jonathan Brownlee to win, Gomez hasn’t had the best run since. In his ITU last race, the European Championships in his hometown, he got a stitch in the run and struggled to a 40th place finish.
If Gomez is a little off, then expect the German team to take full advantage at home, particularly Jan Frodeno. Hamburg is where the reigning Olympic gold medallist calls home and he’s come extremely close to taking the title twice, in 2010 and 2008 – finishing second both times. Frodeno had an ordinary start to the 2011 Dextro Energy Triathlon Series season in Sydney, but finished sixth in Madrid. The other Germans in the field are Maik Petzold, Gregor Bucholz, Jonathan Zipf, Sebastian Rank, Christian Prochnow and Daniel Unger, who won the 2007 World Championship on this very course, a shocking upset over Gomez.
While he will slip into town a little quieter than in Kitzbühel, there will still be a lot of eyes on Chris McCormack (AUS). Macca has made a return to ITU racing 17 years after winning an ITU world title but his comeback in Austria didn’t exactly finish well. McCormack was behind from the swim and after dropping time on the bike, he pulled out on the fourth lap. Since Austria, he’s been in camp with the Australian team and going off his prolific tweeting, he’s been enjoying it quite a bit.
In the other corner of the Australian camp, rising star Brendan Sexton is also worth watching. Sexton finished second in Mooloolaba, then fourth in Sydney, before his first World Cup career win in Monterrey, Mexico. All signs pointed to him doing well in Madrid, but he pulled out early on due to a virus. He pulled out of Kitzbühel as a precaution. But if he can rediscover that early season form, he will be once to watch as will the always dangerous Brad Kahelfeldt..
Others that are a chance are Great Britain’s William Clarke, who is coming off his best Dextro Energy Triathlon Series finish in Kitzbühel, where he finished fourth, while Canadians Kyle Jones and Simon Whitfield are coming off top-10 finishes at last weekend’s ITU Edmonton World Cup. Previous world series medallists like Sven Riederer and David Hauss are also sure to be in the mix, and don’t forget 2009 Hamburg winner Jarrod Shoemaker.
Elite Women’s Preview
There is one thing for certain in the women’s field, Hamburg will be at least one series race that Paula Findlay won’t win this year. The 22-year old Canadian phenom isn’t on the start list and neither is Madrid and Kitzbühel silver medallist Helen Jenkins, which means predicting a winner is a tough call, as there are plenty of in-form women in the field.
Both Barbara Riveros Diaz and Andrea Hewitt have had consistent starts to the season but only one podium each, when they finished second and third respectively in Sydney, but they are the only two who could possibly catch and overtake Findlay in the rankings and that will add extra motivation. But racing at home, don’t be surprised to see Svenja Bazlen near the front. The German is having a breakthrough year, finishing ninth in both Madrid and Kitzbühel. Newly crowned European Champion Emmie Charayron is also having a great 2011 and she’s picked up two series medals before, bronze in Madrid in 2010 and 2011.
Sarah Groff broke through for her first career Dextro Energy Triathlon Series podium in Kitzbühel – the first of any American woman – and has been in excellent form so far this year. While reigning World Champion Emma Moffatt has failed to make the podium so far this year, she’s been steadily improving, from two 13th finishes to fourth in Kitzbühel. Slovenia’s Mateja Simic is coming off a career high, a silver medal at the ITU World Cup - which was the first ITU World Cup medal of any colour for Slovenia. She will make her series debut this weekend in Hamburg and will riding a wave of confidence after her stunning success in Edmonton.
Snowsill has endured a rather disappointing start to the season, coming off an injury riddled year in 2010 but it’s hard to write off one of the greatest female triathletes in history, who is still the reigning Grand Final winner. The Canadian Sweetland has also had a tough few months after her tough start to 2011, where she was forced to pull out of Sydney due to a crash and then spent extended time away from racing due to a concussion. If Switzerland’s Spirig does start, it will be her first race for the season, the 2010 World Championship silver medallist has suffered from stress fractures. Another is South Africa’s Kate Roberts, who was back in Africa for the African Championships last week, and hasn’t been able to find her top ten form from last year yet but she’s steadily improved each series race she has started.
The 2011 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series Hamburg gets underway with the men’s race at 2pm (local time) on Saturday 16 July, followed by the women’s race at 3.30pm on Sunday 17 July. Follow every movement with live video, timing and text updates, at www.triathlonlive.tv. Follow on Twitter at twitter.com/triathlonlive.
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