Only one week ago the battle for this year’s first World Cup title appeared to be a showdown between world number two Javier Gomez, reigning Mooloolaba champion Courtney Atkinson and perennial Aussie powerhouse Brad Kahlefeldt. Flash forward only a few days and Gomez has withdrawn with an injured hip and Atkinson has been slowed by a serious stomach bug, leaving Kahlefeldt as the heavy favourite to take Sunday’s Mooloolaba World Cup. Atkinson will still compete, but a few lost kilos and a still-sensitive stomach have him at less than 100 percent.
The outlook looks good for Kahlefeldt, who noted at today’s press conference that the course in Mooloolaba suits him well.
“It’s definitely a bit of a power course,” the Aussie said. “I enjoy having a hill right in the middle of each lap on the bike and run.”
While the absence of Gomez and the misfortune of Atkinson certainly help Kahlefeldt’s chances of picking up 2010’s first World Cup crown, the circumstances also open the door for a slew of dark horses to steal the title.
Perhaps the least dark of the dark horses is Aussie youngster James Seear, who is quickly becoming a household name in his home country. The 23-year old finished as the U-23 runner-up at last year’s World Championship Grand Final and wrapped up the season on top of the U-23 world rankings. Seear also proved he’s got what it takes to compete against the elites in 2009, finishing 3rd at the Perth Oceania Cup and 5th at the highly competitive Ishigaki World Cup. He’s no doubt one of the fastest swimmers on the start list this weekend and the forecast of high surf should play right into his hand.
Another up-and-comer to keep an eye on is Frenchman David Hauss. The 25-year old finished fourth at this event last year, but more notably finished sixth at the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship London, only 27 seconds behind race winner Alistair Brownlee. Hauss has a proven 30-minute 10K run, which means he’ll be a threat if Sunday’s race is left to the fastest runner.
Other dark horses looking to steal a win in Mooloolaba include Aussies Dan Wilson and Gareth Halverson, Americans Kevin Collington, Ethan Brown and Chris Foster, Ukraine’s Danylo Sapunov and Japan’s Hirokatsu Tayama.
The men’s race starts at 3:00 pm local time on Saturday, March 27. The women’s race kicks off at 12:00 pm local time on Sunday, March 28. Live text updates and timing will be available on triathlon.org
|Results: Elite Women|