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Triathlon New Zealand chases a World Championship title and begins building towards the future when athletes line up at the World Team Sprint Championships in Stockholm this weekend, with the Team title on the line the day after points are up for grabs in the latest round of the ITU World Triathlon Series.
Kris Gemmell, Ryan Sissons, Kate McIlroy and Nicky Samuels will line up in both races, as individuals on Saturday and as a quartet on the Sunday when the world title is up for grabs.
Tri NZ National Coach Greg Fraine is excited about the opportunity for the sport, and the athletes.
“The team is a balanced one which provides options to mix the order to make possible tactical plays to influence results as well as cover any gaps we might have. While popular in Europe, this style of racing is still relatively new so teams are trying different things.
“There are some extremely strong teams lining up on Sunday but we are prepared to stand alongside them and match them if we can, we will certainly be looking to take advantage of any weakness shown by our opposition.
“With teams racing now part of Commonwealth Games and we hope part of the Olympics in the longer term, this is an opportunity to start to build in the new Olympic cycle. Fitness permitting, three of this team will definitely be in the mix for Glasgow so it is a great chance for them to gain vital experience, we will be giving this our best shot for sure.”
It is also another step post the High Performance Review for the athletes, the coaches and the administrators as Tri NZ continues to implement recommendations from that independent review document. Tri NZ will be looking to set high standards in everything they do in racing and in preparation, with a strong focus likely on teams racing in the future, this is another move forward in a quickly evolving sport.
The athletes have to mix the demands of an ITU World Triathlon Series event on the Saturday (also over the sprint distance) and then back up 24 hours later with the team’s race.
For Wellington’s Kate McIlroy it is a chance to refocus after her tenth place finish at the London Olympic Games.
“This is my first race since the Olympics; I had a bit of downtime after London, so am really looking forward to kick starting everything again with two races back to back. It’s also my first time in Stockholm, it’s a very trendy city made up of 14 islands so I am enjoying my stay here already. I have just spent the last 10 days training in Sete, where it has been 35 degrees every day, so I am welcoming the cooler temperatures here too.
“The course is way more challenging than I initially thought, with half the bike course on cobbles and plenty of 180 degree turns each lap! It should make for some interesting racing with a decent climb thrown in there as well.
“The team’s race should be exciting, I raced it two years ago and it was one of the most exciting races I have ever been involved with. We have a strong team and I am looking forward to getting out there and putting everything on the line for 15 minutes!”
Aucklander Ryan Sissons is in a similar situation, the city is new, the format of racing is relatively new and he is backing up after what was for him, a disappointing race in London on the back of a poor swim.
“It is time to get busy again, two weeks after the Olympics. Being a sprint distance it is going to be violently fast and furious. I’m looking forward to racing for the first time in Stockholm on a course that nobody has done before. The fitness seems good but you never usually know until you light it up on race day, I can only hope for the best now knowing that the work has been done.
“The team race will be fun as always. Team order is crucial and if we get it right I believe we can finish on the podium and see the New Zealand flag raised at that medal ceremony.”
Stockholm ITU World Triathlon Series
Team World Championships
2 male, 2 female
ALL TIMES STOCKHOLM
Live coverage on SKY SPORT, check guides for details or visit www.triathlon.org for more information