ITU World Triathlon Series hits halfway mark in Japan

Published
13/05/2015

 

Yokohama this weekend marks the fifth race and halfway stage in the 2015 ITU World Triathlon Series, in a season that has so far provided great contrast between the men and women in regards the competitive nature of the Series. While the women’s racing has been dominated by one name, the men are sharing the glory a little more liberally.

Gwen Jorgensen (USA) returns in hopes of continuing her undefeated streak, which she started in Yokohama last year, but will face tough competition with Non Stanford (GBR) returning for the first time since winning the World Championship title over Jorgensen in 2013. In the men's race, Olympic gold medallist Alistair Brownlee returns after a win in Cape Town to face a stiff contingency of Spanish men that include Javier Gomez and Mario Mola.


Photo - Sportzhub

Jorgensen and Stanford meet again
Gwen Jorgensen (USA) has simply made no race of any event she has taken part in so far this year, winning all three WTS in which she started before taking some well-deserved time out in Cape Town where Vicky Holland(GBR) raced superbly to gold. Holland won’t back up in Yokohama but the tall long-striding American does return to a venue at which she has a great record, winning the past two times here including the posting of an amazing 32:44 10k run split in 2013 that well and truly announced her on the world stage. Yokohama is where Jorgensen began her current winning streak, as she returns to Japan undefeated since winning there last year.

While Non Stanford (GBR) was forced to sit out the 2014 season, she left the ITU circuit on a high as she beat out none other than Jorgensen for the World Championship title in front of a home crowd in 2013. Stanford is one of the few women that can rival Jorgensen down the finish chute, making their meeting highly anticipated.

Her opposition presents a long list of candidates to choose from, not the least of which is the ever consistent Andrea Hewitt (NZL). Currently fourth on the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings, Hewitt also sat out Cape Town in favour of freshening up for a race that she won in 2011. Hewitt missed this event last year after flying to Europe to be with her fiancée and coach Laurent Vidal as he recovered from his shock heart attack, it will be something of an emotional week for both as a vibrant-again Vidal continues to throw himself into his new fulltime coaching career.

While Non Stanford (GBR) was forced to sit out the 2014 season, she left the ITU circuit on a high as she beat out none other than Jorgensen for the World Championship title in front of a home crowd in 2013. Stanford is one of the few women that can rival Jorgensen down the finish chute, making their meeting highly anticipated.

Barbara Riveros (CHI) showed early signs this season of returning to something like career best form, but her season opening fourth place in Abu Dhabi has been followed by 12th (Auckland) and 17th (Gold Coast), the small but mighty Chilean will be hoping for a return to the Abu Dhabi form line this Saturday.

Others with thoughts of a podium occupying their minds when their heads hit the pillow on Friday night include Emma Moffat (AUS) who loves racing in Yokohama, local hopes Yuka Sato, Ai Ueda and Juri Ide who seem to find another gear in front of their home fans.

Starters
Aus
Emma Moffatt
Charlotte McShane
Ashleigh Gentle
Emma Jackson
Gillian Backhouse

NZ
Andrea Hewitt
Rebecca Spence


Alistair vs. the Spaniards
Alistair is looking to make up for lost time after injury kept the London Olympic champion out of the opening three rounds of the WTS – as a result he is just 12th on the Columbia Threadneedle rankings with only one start to his name. Few would bet against a fit-again Brownlee, who will no doubt be further boosted by another three weeks of training since the win in South Africa.

Javier Gomez and Mario Mola are not the only Spaniards in contention. Cue the ‘Spanish Armada’ clichés as the top three ranked athletes hail from the European powerhouse, with Fernando Alarza the next in rankings order on the start list. Four top ten’s in four races this season speaks to the 24-year-old Spaniard’s consistency, but the lack of a single podium suggests he is yet to fully crack the top echelon just yet.

They are not the only Spaniards in contention though. Cue the ‘Spanish Armada’ clichés as the top three ranked athletes hail from the European powerhouse, with Fernando Alarza the next in rankings order on the start list. Four top ten’s in four races this season speaks to the 24-year-old Spaniard’s consistency, but the lack of a single podium suggests he is yet to fully crack the top echelon just yet.

Others in the top-ten on Saturday include some lesser known names also looking to break through and earn either a first or a rare podium at the WTS level. Crisanto Grajales (MEX) has two top 10 results already this season while Ryan Bailie (AUS) posted a career high fifth in Auckland and has raced consistently this season.

Photo - Sportzhub

Another Aussie with great interest surrounding him is Courtney Atkinson, now considered a ‘veteran’ amongst ITU athletes, Atkinson is chasing a place in Rio next year after some time out in longer distance events and has steadily shown signs of returning some speed to those well-travelled 35 year old legs, his tenth place on the Gold Coast his best return in 2015.

Yet another Aussie to watch may well be Aaron Royle, hardly sighted this year with an 18th in Abu Dhabi and a no result in Auckland, Royle had a year to remember in 2014 with a first WTS top ten, a Commonwealth Games team medal and picked up Triathlon Australia’s 2014 Male Individual Performance of the year award, a return to his best and he is an outside podium chance.

 

Aussie starters

Ryan Bailie
Dan Wilson
Courtney Atkinson
Aaron Royle
Cameron Good
Jacob Birtwhistle

PAST YOKOHAMA WINNERS 

           WOMEN                        MEN   

2014      Gwen Jorgensen (USA)      Javier Gomez (ESP)
2013      Gwen Jorgensen (USA)      Jonathan Brownlee (GBR)  

2012      Lisa Norden (SWE)             Joao Silva (POR)  

2011      Andrea Hewitt (NZL)           Joao Silva (POR)   

2009      Lisa Norden (SWE)             Jan Frodeno (GER)