By Merryn Sherwood on 15/03/12 at 11:39 pm
The 2012 ITU World Cup series is just 10 days away, so here is a quick preview of what is in store for the ITU’s longest running series in this Olympic year.
2012 ITU WORLD CUP EVENTS
Mooloolaba (AUS) - March 24-25
Ishigaki (JPN) - April 22
Huatulco (MEX) - May 6
Banyoles (ESP) - June 17
Edmonton (CAN) – July 8
Tiszaujvaros (HUN) – July 14-15
Guatape (COL) – September 9
Tongyeong (KOR) – September 22
Cancun (MEX) – October 7
The two longest serving venues on the ITU world tour both notch up another year. It’s the 17th consecutive year that Ishigaki, in Japan, has hosted a World Cup, while it’s the 16th year in a row for Tiszaujvaros in Hungary. On the other end of the spectrum, it’s the first time Banyoles will host an ITU World Cup. Last year the Spanish city hosted an ETU Premium Cup where the winners were two-time ITU World Champion Javier Gomez and Australia’s Felicity Sheedy Ryan. Cancun is back on the calendar for the first time since 1997, it has hosted nine ITU World Cups and two ITU World Championships, 1995 and 2002. It’s the second year in a row that Mexico has hosted two ITU World Cups, with Huatulco also on the calendar again. This year marks the 10th consecutive year that Tongyeong has hosted an ITU event, including the opening round of the ITU World Triathlon Series in 2009. It’s the sixth straight year that Mooloolaba opens the season, the second for Guatape after that tough altitude course made its debut in 2011. It’s also the second year in a row for Edmonton, it was back on the calendar in 2011 but did host six World Cups and the ITU World Championships from 2001 to 2007.
One thing is for sure, the 2012 ITU World Cup season isn’t getting any easier. Huatulco’s hilly course has meant it’s always been one of the toughest on the entire ITU calendar, and this year it will be joined by Guatape as events with killer bike legs. And Mooloolaba and Ishigaki also provide challenging tests early in the season. But Edmonton, Tiszaujvaros and Cancun will also all have a twist this year, they will be sprint distance rounds. Both Edmonton and Cancun will be decided over a 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run, while Tiszaujvaros will also be contested over that distance - but over two days. The new format in Hungary includes semi-finals on Saturday, and then finals on Sunday.
Given that the official Olympic qualifying period ends on May 31st, the first three World Cup events of the year all fall within the Olympic qualifying period. Therefore expect to see furious battles for not only the podium places, but every spot down to the finish as athletes chase points to boost their own ranking, and also their NOCs in the Olympic qualification list. Click here for more on Olympic qualification.
Last year Team ITU celebrated it’s 5th anniversary before the Auckland World Cup and in 2011 athletes from Slovenia, Colombia, Estonia, Monaco, Morocco, Korea, Serbia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Israel, Cuba, Zimbabwe and Barbados were all part of the programme. Led by ITU Development Director Libby Burrell, the programme’s initial objective as ‘providing support, resources and expertise to elite athletes from emerging/developing National Federations to compete at a World Cup level’. One of the key aims was to try and help these athletes, who had already shown elite potential but perhaps not possess the resources to take it that step further, to reach their Olympic goal. In 2012, Team ITU will aim to help its athletes get there with the first two events of the season, Mooloolaba and Huatulco, still within the Olympic qualification period.
Last season there were a total of 10 new World Cup winners, and a host more new World Cup medallists, including the first in history for Poland and Slovenia when Marek Jaskolka and Mateja Simic claimed bronze and silver in Ishigaki and Edmonton respectively. New Zealand and the USA tied as most successful World Cup nation in 2011, both scored four victories, while Australia and France had three each. Overall though, France won the most World Cup medals in 2011 with seven, three gold, two silver and two bronze. Hunter Kemper (USA) finished as the most successful athlete in the World Cup series, with one win, one silver and one bronze.