ITU World Cup Season Kicks Off In Mooloolaba

Posted: March 13, 2014 by kirisyko in SykOtic, Triathlon
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The 2014 ITU triathlon World Cup season officially gets underway this weekend in Mooloolaba, Australia. In the build-up to the World Triathlon Series start in Auckland, this Saturday’s sprint races will feature star studded lineups of the world’s fastest triathletes. While the swim was altered last year due to weather conditions, in its 12th year as a World Cup the course returns to a beach start, followed by four bike and run laps along Mooloolaba Esplanade and Alexandra Parade.

Women’s Preview
Anne Haug (GER) heads back to Mooloolaba as the reigning champ of the World Cup. It was here that she re-affirmed her position as a threat to the women’s circuit last year when she used her unparalleled bike strength to power to the front of the pack. The win launched Haug’s campaign to become the 2013 World Champion. An unfortunate swim at the London Grand Final took her out of the running for the title, but always the fierce competitor, she finished the race and managed to clench the final spot as one of the top three women on the WTS circuit.

Gwen Jorgensen (USA), one of the two other ladies that challenged Haug for the world title, will also look for an early season win. Like Haug, Jorgensen has struggled in the swim, but will be tough to beat down the blue carpet if the lead pack is anywhere in sight off the bike. Although a nasty crash on the bike took Jorgensen out of the race in London, her run velocity clobbered the competition in three World Triathlon Series races last year.

While Andrea Hewitt (NZL) struggled at times last year, both her experience and endurance will work to her advantage. The Kiwi is strong across all three disciplines, but will need to work the swim to create a gap over Haug and Jorgensen if she wants to avenge the podium she missed here last year. Home soil favourite Emma Moffatt (AUS) opened her 2013 season with a bronze in Mooloolaba before topping it off with another third place finish at the Grand Final. The Aussie has already proven endurance will be no problem for her after a dominant win at the Ironman 70.3 Geelong race last month, but speed will be the name of the game on Saturday. Look for Spain’s Carolina Routier to push the pace with Moffatt and Hewitt on the one-lap beach swim.

The women’s race is stacked with strong triathletes throughout the 34-person deep field. While Paula Findlay (CAN) is down on the start list after a pair of injury-plagued years, her five WTS wins speak for themselves. Charlotte McShane (AUS) has been training with the speedy Jorgensen and has a confidence buzz from winning the Under23 World Championship and Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) consistently puts up top 5 performances.

Men’s Preview
Mario Mola (ESP) is the man to beat in Mooloolaba. After joining fellow Spaniard Javier Gomez on both the Grand Final and overall WTS podium, Mola firmly cemented himself as a top contender in men’s triathlon. Light on his bike and his feet, Mola’s combination of cycling and running skills make him hard to defeat. However, the swim can end Mola’s race faster than it begins, meaning he’ll need to harness his energy for the 750m wavy ocean swim.

Meanwhile, all around strong triathletes like Richard Murray (RSA), Sven Riederer (SUI), Laurent Vidal (FRA) and Joao Silva (POR) pose threats. Last year, Vidal and Gomez dropped the leaders early on the run, but a heavy training load saw Vidal blowup in the final kilometers. It would be a challenging strategy to repeat with the run speed of Mola, Murray, and Silva to contend with.

Australia will be well represented with Aaron Royle, Ryan Fisher and Peter Kerr in the mix. Kerr scored his first World Cup podium finish in the event last year and his swim looks more promising than ever after a large gap out of the water at the recent Oceania Championships. However, he was no match for Royle and Fisher on the bike, as the pair scorched by, with Royle eventually edging out Fisher on the run.

After taking much of the 2013 season off, David Hauss (FRA), who finished fourth at the London Olympics, looks primed to return to ITU racing in Mooloolaba. Injury-ridden last year, Germany’s Steffen Justus could affect the podium, as could Canada’s Kyle Jones.

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