By Merryn Sherwood on 03/10/11 at 8:51 pm
The ITU Triathlon World Cup series resumes this weekend and returns to Mexico for the second time in 2011, with the always sunny Huatulco hosting the sixth cup this year.
This holiday hotspot has been a World Cup event since 2008. In its first year, Kiwis swept the podium thanks to Kris Gemmell and Samantha Warriner. In 2009 Matt Chrabot and Ai Ueda both claimed their first ITU World Cup wins in Huatulco. In 2010, Ueda defended her title while the eventual 2010 ITU World Champion Javier Gomez stormed to gold in the men’s race.
The course starts with beach start into a two-lap ocean swim, before an eight-lap 40km bike course and a four-lap 10km run, with minor hill at the start.
Elite Women’s Preview
There are five women in the Huatulco field who already have World Cup medals this year, and the USA’s Sarah Haskins already has a win in Mexico. Haskins has spent most of 2011 racing in America, but she won her only World Cup race in Monterrey. Ireland’s Aileen Morrison claimed a silver medal in Ishigaki this year and is coming off an excellent fourth place in Yokohama. There are two of the three Edmonton medallists in the field, Slovenia’s Mateja Simic and Austria’s Lisa Perterer and Italy’s Annamaria Mazzetti claimed silver in in Tiszaujvaros.
But perhaps the biggest story is whether the most successful athlete in ITU World Cup history can add another to her already incredible record. Portugal’s Vanessa Fernandes took a break from triathlon at the start of this year, but returned to racing in Yokohama a few weeks ago. Although she hadn’t raced an ITU race in over 12 months she finished a respectable 26th. Now, she returns to World Cup racing hoping to add to her incredible 20 World Cup titles. The last World Cup event she won was in Madrid, in 2008.
Others to watch include Bermuda’s Flora Duffy. She had a breakthrough race in the Dextro Energy Triathlon Series Grand Final in Beijing, sticking with the lead women’s group in the breakaway and then hanging on to seal ninth place. She’ll no doubt be using this race to gear up for the 2011 Pan American Games. She finished fourth in last year’s Pan American Championships. Agnieszka Jerzyk is also a star on the rise, she became the first Polish athlete to win an ITU World Championship when she ran away with the 2011 Under23 women’s title in Beijing last month. This year’s junior women’s silver medallist, Ashlee Bailie, will also race in Huatulco, marking her World Cup debut. There is also a strong Spanish women’s team, with Ainhoa Murua, Marina Damlaimcourt and Zurine Rodriguez.
Elite Men’s Preview
Joao Silva had a breakthrough year in 2010, and some solid results in 2011, before blowing the field away with a stunning run in Yokohama to take his first Dextro Energy Triathlon Series win. Silva also has fond memories of Mexico, he claimed his first World Cup win in Monterrey last year.
But there are challengers who also have form in Huatulco, like New Zealand’s Gemmell. He started the year well with a win at the Oceania championships in Wellington, but his best result since then was a 17th finish in Hamburg. But he has happy memories on this course, it’s where he claimed his debut World Cup win in 2008. There is another Huatulco winner in the field though and Chrabot’s 2009 win was huge, beating the next best finisher – Switzerland’s Ruedi Wild – by more than two minutes. He then finished third in 2010, while Wild finished second again. Both Chrabot and Wild are on the start list, and Chrabot is coming off a season best fifth place at Yokohama.
Gemmell’s veteran New Zealand teammate Bevan Docherty is also one to watch, while he didn’t get onto a series podium in 2011 he did win the Edmonton World Cup. Another veteran that could challenge is Spain’s Ivan Rana. Rana is currently going for his fourth Olympics, and finished 10th in the 2011 Dextro Energy Triathlon Series Grand Final in Beijing. Another to watch is Canadian Brent McMahon, who won his first World Cup title this year in Tiszaujvaros and finished ninth in Yokohama.
ITU Development athletes Leonardo Chacon and Carlos Javier Quinchara Forero have performed well in Mexico in the past. Chacon has posted his best World Cup results in Huatulco while Quinchara Forero placed in the top ten in Monterry earlier this year. Along with Australians Aaron Royle and Ryan Bailie and Serbia’s Ognjen Stojanovic, there are plenty of male triathletes on the rise as well.
The 2011 Huatulco ITU World Cup gets underway when the elite women’s race starts at 8.00am (local time) on Sunday October 9, followed by the men’s race from 10.45am. Follow every movement live through Triathlon’s live timing and text updates, at www.triathlon.org/live.
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