ITU World Triathlon Series preview

02/03/2015 by Steve Knowles

The ITU World Triathlon Series (WTS) will kick off this week, effectively launching the International Triathlon Union's competitive season. The 2015 year promises to be an exciting one, with 10 WTS and World Paratriathlon Events (WPE) on the calendar, in addition to eight World Cup races, the Rio Test Event, Mixed Relay World Championships in addition to triathlon featuring at two major games. Here's a look at how the 2015 triathlon season will unfold. 

ITU World Triathlon Series
The Series will feature more events than ever before and will get underway this weekend in Abu Dhabi on March 7, marking the first time the Series will be held in the Middle East. It will touch down in a total of 10 cities before concluding with the Grand Final, September 15-20 in Chicago. Gold Coast returns to the Series for the first time since 2009, and both Cape Town and Stockholm will feature new twists to their courses.

Prize Money
Athletes will vie for almost $3 million over the 2015 ITU triathlon season, which is a 5% increase from 2014. Each World Triathlon Series race will offer a total of $150,000, while the bonus pool will again offer a total of $755,000. With the addition of two WTS races on the calendar, the overall prize pool has increased to $2.385 million. As in last year, the bonus pool will again extend to the top 35 athletes, with the male and female World Champions each taking home $40,000. The World Cup circuit offers a total of $480,000, while a sum of $70,000 is up for grabs at the Mixed Relay World Championships. 

Paralympic qualification kicks off
Paratriathlon’s long awaited debut at the Paralympic Games is now just over a year away. The hunt for qualification points will start on July 1 of this year, with the Iseo – Franciacorta ITU World Paratriathlon Event the first race to put points on the board. All of the WPE races from then until June 30, 2016 will serve as critical races to clench one of the 60 available spots. The WPE season will be held on every continent over 10 races before concluding with the World Championships in Chicago in September.

Olympic qualification continues
Olympic qualification will be on everyone’s mind this season as they look to secure their spots well in advance of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Set to be contested on the same course as the Olympic Games this summer’s Rio Test Event will offer the maximum level of Olympic qualification points available, putting it on par with the World Triathlon Series Grand Final. The races are slated to be held August 1-2.

Two major international events will take place this summer with triathlon featuring at both the 2015 Baku European Games and the 2015 Toronto Pan American Games. Triathlon will take place from June 13-14 at the first ever European Games, and will serve as Europe’s Olympic quota place competition, meaning someone will punch their ticket to Rio in Baku.

Just one month later, triathlon will again take to the international stage, this time at the Pan American Games in Toronto from July 12-13. Like European Games, Pan American Games provide an Olympic quota place.

Mixed Relay
Back in action yet again will be the Mixed Relay World Championships. Last year, young French and Hungarian teams announced their speed to the world when they blasted past handfuls of veteran teams for podium finishes. Set to be held in conjunction with World Triathlon Hamburg, be on the lookout for quick change overs, unexpected lead changes and some gravity defying dives. 

Athletes to watch
Throughout the 2014 season, we saw flashes of brash new talent on the rise when stellar French and German teams boasted head-turning speed. Although these young bucks have spirit and energy to boot, some superstar veterans look ready to return to the WTS and will be tough to defeat. So far there appear to be no hints of injury for the lethal Alistair Brownlee, and Olympic medallists Nicola Spirig and Lisa Norden will also likely appear in races throughout the season. Click here for triathletes and paratriathletes to watch.