By Erin Greene on 03/04/14 at 7:20 am
Like the women, the men’s start list is stacked with super stars at the Barfoot & Thompson World Triathlon Auckland. From Javier Gomez to Jonathan Brownlee to the ever increasingly speedy Mario Mola, they’ve all come to race in Auckland this weekend. Here’s a peek at who we think can be major players for the podium.
The Gomez vs Brownlee rival
Whether it’s Alistair vs Gomez or Jonny vs Gomez or the Brownlee brothers vs Gomez, this familiar rivalry just never gets old. Last time Jonathan Brownlee and Javier Gomez met in Auckland, Gomez out sprinted the younger Brownlee down the finish chute to cinch his 2012 season up with a win. A similar scenario played out when the pair last met in London with Gomez again out sprinting Jonathan down the blue carpet, this time winning both the World Title and the Grand Final. Last year, Brownlee proved he didn’t need his brother around to win a race and could even do it when his brother was the competition. A just-missed chance at the World Championship has surely been fueling the younger Brownlee’s desire to get his title back, and that journey begins this weekend. It’s going to be one Sunday fun day watching this pair duke it out.
While the Brownlees have dominated ITU racing in the last several years, Mario Mola just may be the rise of the Spanish inquisition. A second-place finish in the Auckland last year set the path to a top three ranking at the end of the 2013 season. He has already started his season out with a bang, having won two World Cup races, the last of which he beat out long-time friend and idol Gomez. There’s no doubt Mola’s run is on point, evidenced by his sub-14 minute 5k split in Mooloolaba, but he’ll have to conquer the choppy harbour for a chance at catching the leaders en route to the tough bike course.
Run, run, run
While eyes will certainly be on the top three ranked men, there is a strong lot of gents that could split up the leaderboard early in the season. While Joao Silva (POR) struggled in his season opener, he was back in solid run form in New Plymouth two weeks ago, finishing third to just Mola and Gomez. Sven Riederer (SUI) also challenged Mola early on the run in Mooloolaba. There’s no doubt about it. The men are bringing their running game this year. With Silva, Riederer, Mola, Brownlee and Gomez on the list, all of the men who have ever medalled in Auckland are back to race.
Fish out of water
While the Russian contingency stumbled slightly in the rankings last year, these machines are never far behind, especially in the water. Look for Dmitry Polyanskiy and Ivan Vasiliev to slice their way to the lead, along with three-time aquathlon World Champion Ricahrd Varga. American Tommy Zaferes has also been making a name for himself as a leader out of the swim.
Henri Schoeman‘s (RSA) impressive climb in Kitzbuehel last year put him on the map as a cyclist to watch, meaning he could be well matched for the Auckland course. Likewise, Kiwi favourite Ryan Sissons (NZL) put together an eye-opening climb and will have the home advantage. After moving up to longer distances last year, longtime ITU legend Ivan Rana (ESP) returns to WTS racing this weekend. The stamina built up while training for longer races should serve him well on the hills in New Zealand. As an Under23 competitor, Aaron Royle (AUS) claimed his first World Championships on the course in Auckland, giving him fond memories of the event.
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. Find international start times here. 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