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ATTENTION TURNS TO DES MOINES AND WORLD TEAM CHAMPS
The world’s best triathletes turn their attention to the richest weekend of racing on the Triathlon calendar with one million dollars (US) on the line at this weekend’s ITU World Cup in Des Moines, Iowa.
On Sunday morning (NZT) athletes will race in the Hy-Vee ITU World Cup race with an elite field assembled to match anything the World Champs Series has generated so far this year. The interest is largely down to the prize money with USD$250,000 going to first man and first woman across the line. The prize money graduates down to USD$2,000 for last place, making this by some distance the most lucrative event on the triathlon calendar.
Sunday’s World Cup race will be followed on the Monday morning (NZT) by the inaugural ITU World Team Champs, with New Zealand represented by two strong quartets. The Team Championship will be raced in a mixed relay format with four competitors per team, each racing the entire super sprint distance of 250m swim, 7km cycle and 1.8km run before ‘tagging’ their next triathlete. The first team across the line takes the honours and a $40,000 USD prize.
The New Zealand teams are:
New Zealand A
Sam Warriner, Andrea Hewitt, Bevan Docherty, Kris Gemmell
New Zealand B
Kate McIlroy, Rebecca Spence, Clark Ellice, Ryan Sissons
Reserve: Martin van Barneveld
Note: Debbie Tanner and Nicky Samuels are not racing in Des Moines so were not considered
Palmerston North’s Kris Gemmell is excited about the prospect of a top quality weekend of racing, albeit he is treading rather warily after a year of bad luck.
“I think I am turning into the boy in the bubble ahead of this race. I feel in great shape and training has been going well but after the year I have had I am walking around on egg shells. They say bad things come in threes, I reckon it must be something like tens. I’ve had my share of bad luck in recent times so hopefully all goes well this weekend.”
Gemmell is excited about the format of team racing on the Sunday and admits the big money on offer can play on the mind a little.
“We simply don’t race for this amount of money each week, in fact this is the only time each year so yeah, it is a little different and I think we will all be a little nervous. Saturday will be all on with 75 guys on the line looking to win the big prize so it won’t be a place for the faint hearted.
“Sunday should be fun though. We will all be a little tired after Saturday so it might be a case of seeing who has the freshest legs but it is only over a short distance so I’m sure we will cope okay. I’ve done a lot of this type of racing though, mainly early in my career so this is nothing new to me and will be a good fit for me with my fast twitch fibres and explosive ability, it should be really exciting.”
Bevan Docherty will be hoping he has shaken the effects of a cold that played some part in his withdrawal from the ITU World Champs race in Washington last weekend, a decision he made with Des Moines in mind.
Sam Warriner is returning to racing after missing the Washington round of the World Champs Series after a bike accident that destroyed her bike and damaged ribs and her torso.
“I’m really looking forward to the Team race on the Sunday, that will be brilliant and I think so much fun for everyone to watch. I think we will be in with a great chance of doing well. It will also be good because a lot of the up and coming athletes coming through get the chance to take part and be on the start line or in the race too, instead of it just being the usual small group of us at these big races. It will be nice to have that team atmosphere, with all of us racing for New Zealand on the day and in the same teams.”
The strength and form of the New Zealanders is such that they will be amongst the favourites to take out the gold medal in the first ever mixed team race sanctioned by the ITU.
The Aussies will go in as favourites with Emma Snowsill and Emma Moffatt the two top ranked female athletes on current World Series points likely to be joined by Brad Kahlefeldt and Courtney Atkinson, currently at 2nd and 3rd on the men’s rankings. Others to watch will include the American and British teams, each of which has had athletes in great form this year.
The ITU has made no secret of their desire to have team racing included on the Olympic programme, knowing that it can provide yet more spectacular viewing for audiences’ world wide as well as further opportunity for athletes.
"The team world championships are crucial in ITU's quest to have a team event on the Olympic programme," said ITU Secretary General Loreen Barnett. "Recently the IOC Executive Board approved the mixed relay for the Youth Olympic Games, signifying the IOC's support of the concept. It also represented an important step forward for the team relay's inclusion in future Olympic Games"
A $70,000 USD prize purse will be available for the top three teams (1st - $40,000, 2nd - $20,000, 3rd - $10,000).
Hy-Vee ITU Triathlon World Cup
Sunday 28th June
Andrea Hewitt, Sam Warriner, Kate McIlroy, Rebecca Spence
Sunday 28th June
Bevan Docherty, Kris Gemmell, Tony Dodds, Clark Ellice, Ryan Sissons, Martin van Barneveld, Graham O’Grady, Callum Millward
ITU World Team Champs
4 x mixed relay
Monday 29th June