Triathlon World has eyes for Auckland
The eyes of the triathlon world will be firmly focused on Auckland this weekend with the hosting of the second round of the World Triathlon Series with the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Triathlon.
Strong fields with the best triathletes in the world have assembled for the elite races on Sunday afternoon, complemented by age group and fun events from the Swim/Run on the Saturday afternoon to the variety of triathlon events including the Sovereign National Age Group Championships on the Sunday morning. There is a run/jog/walk option as well, with the Find Your Field of Dreams 5km fun run up and down Queen Street, also taking place on the Sunday morning programme.
Queens Wharf is headquarters for the event that sees racing take place on fully closed roads throughout Sunday, with the elites racing on a spectator friendly and technically challenging course that takes athletes up Queen Street and back down Albert Street on the bike, passing through the blue carpeted grandstand areas on Queens Wharf on each lap. The run is four laps taking in Queen and Quay Streets, again passing through the grandstand area on each lap.
Saturday sees the Sport and Lifestyle Event Expo open in The Cloud from 9am with the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Open Day with family activities throughout the day, again on Queens Wharf.
The Swim/Run event aside (on Saturday afternoon), Sunday is set aside for all racing, with road closures in effect from 10pm on Saturday evening, until 9pm on Sunday evening.
Elite Men Top Five
1 Mario Mola, Spain, 25 years
Mola has emerged over the past two years to now be a genuine contender in any race he lines up in – as was shown with his victory in the opening round at Abu Dhabi when he posted the fastest 5km run split ever recorded in a WTS event. Can he surpass his countryman Gomez, the Brownlee brothers and Richard Murray in 2015?
2 Joao Silva, Portugal, 25 years
Silva had a disappointing 2014 but returned to his best when finishing second to Mola in Abu Dhabi. When on form he is one of the most pure runners in the sport, key will be to be close to the leaders off the bike. The Medicine student looks ready for a strong 2015 campaign.
3 Jonathan Brownlee, Great Britain, 24 years
Brownlee is approaching his best years at 24 years of age and is a threat in any race he features in. He will relish the tough bike course, expect to see him at or near the front, pushing the pace to hurt his opponents before the 10km run. Bronze medalist from London Olympic Games, Brownlee was pipped here by Gomez last year.
4 Javier Gomez Noya, Spain, 32 years
The prince of the sport over the past decade – with four World Titles and many World Cup and WTS wins, including the past three races in Auckland. He loves racing in New Zealand and has been beaten just once on our shores (New Plymouth WC 2014). Aiming for Rio and an elusive Olympic gold medal (he has silver from London), he was 5th in Abu Dhabi when not 100% fit.
Gomez - iTU Auckland 2013
Photo Delly Carr
5 Fernando Alarza, Spain, 24 years
Alarza is part of the next generation of Spanish men who are threatening to dominate the sport (4 of the top six in Auckland are from Spain). Started the season with a strong 7th place finish in Abu Dhabi and has some form in Auckland, with an 11th place finish last year to call upon.
Plus New Zealanders
23 Ryan Sissons, Auckland
28 Tony Dodds, Wanaka
Elite Women Top Five
1 Gwen Jorgensen, USA, 28 years
Few have dominated the sport ever before like the long striding American has. The former tax accountant has put the books away for now as she wins WTS races for fun, last year becoming the first woman in the history of the sport to win four WTS events in a row (including previous World Cup races). A dominant winner when running through the field in Abu Dhabi, Jorgensen will look to win in Auckland after a bike crash saw her come home 12th in 2014.
2 Katie Zaferes, USA 25 years
Zaferes (nee Hursey) is part of an irresistible surge in women’s triathlon coming out of the States, finishing second to Jorgensen in Abu Dhabi. Always likely to be near the front of the race out of the water, Zaferes may well be the pace setter through the early part of the race.
3 Barbara Riveros, Chile, 27 years
The diminutive Riveros endured a disappointing 2014, never able to capture her best form. When on her game though Riveros can run with the best in the sport and showed with a 4th place season opener in Abu Dhabi that she may well be approaching the form that at her peak, had her a regular on the podium in the biggest races.
4 Andrea Hewitt, New Zealand, 32 years
Hewitt showed her remarkable consistency in 2014 to finish the year as the world’s third ranked female triathlete. The Cantabrian loves this course and will be sure to test the others each time up the climb on the bike leg. Showed good signs in a first up 5th place finish in Abu Dhabi, the longer distance may well favour Hewitt with her endurance ability.
Photo Delly Carr - ITU
5 Lindsey Jerdonek, USA, 30 years
With a Finance Degree behind her, Jerdonek is establishing herself amongst the smartest triathletes as well. A strong finish to 2014 with a 5th place in Stockholm was carried over with a season opening 6th place in Abu Dhabi.
Plus New Zealanders
40 Simone Ackermann, Whangarei
42 Rebecca Clarke, Auckland
56 Rebecca Spence, Auckland