World Mixed Relay Series all set for second stop of year in Hamburg
After the action-packed debut of the new World Mixed Relay Series took Nottingham by storm at the start of June, the teams move on to Hamburg this Sunday, eager to once again have the opportunity to prove their collective superiority. The 20 teams line up for the 300m swim, 7km bike and 1.7km run course knowing that explosive power is often the key to success in this format. Maintaining it is the challenge.
The strong squads of four will once again stretch themselves to deliver for their country, but Series rules mean that the composition of the teams can be changed up to two hours before the race start. Regardless, for the fans, the shorter distances and show-stopping, full-tilt dives after the athletes tag are always hugely entertaining.
The team to beat will again be Australia after the current World Champions also grabbed this season’s gold at the Mixed Relay in the Commonwealth Games. Both astonishing runners, Ashleigh Gentle and Jacob Birtwhistle will take the last two legs, saving the two bullets for the end of the race in a bid to ensure their spot on the podium.
It was the Americans who took the tape a month ago, but they now draft in Kevin McDowell and Ben Kanute to accompany Kirsten Kasper and Katie Zaferes in Hamburg. Both women finished in the top five of Saturday’s individual event, while neither of the men competed, so expect McDowell and Kanute to be fresh, fired up and raring to race.
The Dutch team is always one to watch, but the big question is whether Rachel Klamer will compete just a matter of hours after coming off her bike in the individual race. Klamer showed her mettle to carry on and finish a remarkable 12th, but will be looking for teammates Jorik Van Egdom and Marco Van Der Steg, who along with Klamer finished third here last year, plus new team member Maya Kingma, to also shoulder the responsibility.
For Great Britain, it will be Vicky Holland assuming the first leg in place of Non Stanford, Jodie Stimpson setting off in the third slot after a tag from Tom Bishop. Johnny Brownlee takes the responsibility of the final fling, and will want to make up for the frustration of a hard-earned fourth place in Saturday’s individual race.
The provisional France team sees Saturday’s individual champion Cassandre Beaugrand assume the first leg, but it remains to be seen how much the exertions of her debut WTS win will have taken out of the 21-year-old emerging star. Book-ending the team is Vincent Luis, himself second behind Mario Mola in Saturday’s men’s race, with Dorian Coninx and Leonie Pariault completing a strong-looking French squad.
The Canadian team has been consistent this year, earning fourth place in the Commonwealth Games last April and finishing 7th in Nottingham. With both Tyler Mislawchuk and Matt Sharpe in great shape, they will be looking to improve on their bittersweet 5th place at last year World Championships. In a similar situation will be the Belgians, who bring a team to Hamburg that has clear medal potential thanks to the combined talents of Marten Van Riel, Claire Michel, Jelle Geens and Valerie Barthelemy.
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