While the World Triathlon Series came to a dramatic close last weekend in Cozumel, Mexico, the World Cup circuit carries on with three more stops marked on the 2016 calendar. This Sunday, the elites head to South America to compete in the debut race in Ecuador at the 2016 Salinas ITU World Cup. The race will be the first World Cup that Ecuador has held.
The race will be contested over a sprint distance course. The 750 metre on-lap swim, 20 kilometre four-lap bike and five kilometre two-lap run will see the athletes conquer the ocean and then make their way through the city and around a naval base. The women will compete first at 8:00am local time on Sunday, September 25, with the men following at 9:30am.
The Americans will be leading the women’s field. Kirsten Kasper and Summer Cook are the one and two on the start list, but rightfully earned after both putting up career-high seasons as both women finished in the top twenty of the WTS ITU overall rankings. Kasper, who will be wearing the number one, started the year with two back-to-back bronze World Cup medals in Mooloolaba and New Plymouth. She has yet to win a World Cup gold though, but it is only a matter of time – and that time could be Sunday. Cook on the other hand will be giving her compatriot a run for her money. Cook has made a name for herself this year, first when she won the Chengdu World Cup and then again when she won WTS Edmonton. But Edmonton was the complete opposite conditions as it will be in Salinas, so we will have to see if she can perform.
However, there is a group of Rio Olympians that are set to toe the line on Sunday, which could make for a very interesting race.
Training partners Lisa Norden (SWE) and Mari Rabie (RSA) are the duo to look out for. This is Rabie’s final season, so she has the motivation to get onto the podium for the first time this year. While Norden has not had the strongest of seasons, she can produce when the time is right, so Salinas could be the perfect opportunity to get back on top.
Rabie’s South African compatriot Gillian Sanders is another Olympian to line up. She is also a strong biker, so could be a potential frontrunner.
Ukraine’s Yuliya Yelistratova has the best World Cup success on the women’s start list. She earned the bronze in Huatulco and then the silver in Tiszy. She also earned the silver at the ETU European Championships in Lisbson. She will be a threat on Sunday.
Another woman who will be making moves is Aussie Emma Jackson as she will perform on the bike. She is known for being the tail-end of the pack, but strategically it has helped in her favor. Look out for her to be in the front bike pack and then have the fresh legs to put on a stellar run.
Topping the men’s start list is Mexican Crisanto Grajales. After finishing seventh in the ITU overall rankings for the year, he is the only man racing this Sunday who finished in the top ten. Grajales reached a career milestone this season after he earned the silver medal in WTS Yokohama. The medal brought him onto his very first WTS podium. As his first World Cup race of the year, Salinas will also be his final competition.
Both Polyanskiy brothers will be lining up this weekend. Dmitry Polyanskiy is the older of the two and he finished in the top twenty of the ITU overall WTS rankings. Dmitry had World Cup success earlier in the season when he won in Tiszaujvaros. He also won the silver at the ETU European Championships in Lisbon. While younger brother Igor Polyanskiy joined his brother on the world cup podium in Tiszy when he took the silver. Both brothers are very strong swimmers and bikers, so the ocean swim will play to their strengths and make them a huge threat.
After some strong showings in the WTS Cozumel Grand Final last week, some other names are certainly ones to look out for on Sunday. Jorik Van Egdom (NED) won the U23 World Championship title and put up a performance on the bike and run that displayed his capability to make an impact in the two disciplines this weekend. While Spaniard David Castro Fajardo helped his nation’s team win the Junior/U23 Mixed Relay world crown. As the final competitor in the four-member team, Castro thrives in the sprint distance on the run, so if it comes down to it in the final kilometres, he will be the one to beat.
Aussie Drew Box won the bronze medal in the Huatulco World Cup earlier in June, which was also his first World Cup podium. But with similar weather conditions as Huatulco, the course on Sunday could play into his favor to get onto the podium again. Irving Perez (MEX) also does well in the heat. As the Huatulco winner in 2015, Salinas could be the right field to get him another medal.
|Results: Elite Men|
|1.||David Castro Fajardo||ESP||00:53:33|
|5.||Antonio Serrat Seoane||ESP||00:53:39|