By Andrew Dewhurst on 08/05/14 at 12:34 pm
The ITU World Cup Series moves to Chengdu, the capital of China’s southwest province of Sichuan. Previously a Premium Asian Cup event, Chengdu hosts a World Cup race for the first time and has attracted large international fields for racing on Saturday before age group events take place on Sunday.
Athletes face a largely flat course at Jin Tang, with a two-lap swim in the man-made lake before a six-lap ride on a largely flat but in places technical course before a four-lap run brings the competitors home to the finish line. Incredibly the park surroundings and infrastructure have been purpose built with this event in mind.
In the elite women’s race Lisa Perterer (AUT) carries the number one bib. The Austrian has tasted World Cup podium success before with third at Cozumel in late 2013 and in Huatulco (2012), Cancun (2013) and Edmonton (2011), but never has she won. Perterer will have plenty of challengers in Chengdu over the full distance but expect her to be right in the mix.
Tamsyn Moana-Veale (AUS), like Perterer, is no stranger to standing on a World Cup podium but the 20 year old Aussie has yet to feel the finish tape break as she crosses the line. Gillian Backhouse (AUS) is another racing in the green and gold of Aussie and is not without her chances.
Margit Vanek (HUN) showed promising form with a 26th place finish at the Capetown WTS and as a former World Aquathlon Champion (Hungary 2012). You can expect the 27 year old to feature in the lead group out of the water.
Rebecca Clarke (NZL) is also a strong swimmer and is one that could dictate the pace out of the water. Clarke knows, however, that there are others with a stronger run than her so watch for a possible move on the bike from the Kiwi who will have company from down under in Fiona Crombie (NZL) and Simone Ackermann (NZL).
China has seven in the elite women’s field, led by Mengying Zhong (CHN), the 23 year old who had a 4th place finish in Asian Cup racing already this calendar year.
Jarrod Shoemaker (USA) is seeded number one for the men’s race in a full field of 76. The former track runner (12th in the NCAA 5,000m) has long been established on the ITU circuit and has numerous Pan American Cup podiums to his name. Shoemaker was the 2005 U23 ITU World Champion and won a WTS event in Hamburg in 2009. That form has not been in evidence of late and Shoemaker will be hoping that Chengdu sees a return to his best ahead of Yokohama a week later.
Richard Murray (RSA) is not racing but is inspiring a group of South Africans to greater heights and Wian Sullwald (RSA) will be one to watch on Saturday. The 20 year old finished an impressive 15th after swimming and riding in the lead pack in Capetown and shows he has the appetite to challenge for a podium in Chengdu.
Joe Maloy (USA) and the Australian pair of Jesse Featonby (AUS) and Peter Kerr (AUS) are a threat, with Kerr in particular a potential winner if he is on his best form. Kerr has been slow out of the blocks in 2014, however, and will be hoping this is the race to kick start his season.
Tony Dodds (NZL) may well be a sleeper in this field. Dodds has been named to his country’s 2014 Commonwealth Games team despite missing the final qualifier in Auckland with a broken elbow suffered in a fall in New Plymouth just weeks before. Dodds will be itching for an incident free race, and his form may depend on how much the elbow injury has taken out of him in recent weeks.
The home nation has nine starters in the men’s race, led by 2013 Chinese National Champion Faquan Bai (CHN). This underlines the important developmental role that an event such as ITU World Cup Chengdu has in an emerging triathlon nation such as China.
The men get underway at 9am local time, while the women will race at 11.45am local time. Check www.triathlonlive.com for live timing and follow @triathlonlive for twitter updates.
Find more details about this event - 2014 Chengdu ITU Triathlon World Cup