Round two of the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series heads to Seoul, Korea this Saturday, with over 100 of the world’s fastest triathletes ready to tackle a brand-new venue. It will be the first time a World Championship event has taken place in the Korean capital and only the second time and ITU race has been staged in Seoul. Home to over ten million people, Seoul is the largest city to host an ITU event in 2010. The Seoul National Capital Area, which includes the major port city of Incheon and most of Gyeonggi-do, has a total of 24.5 million inhabitants, making it the world’s second largest metropolitan area.
Staging a major event in such a densely populated area is never an easy task, but Han River Park in the Yeouido District offers an ideal venue for the race. The race kicks off with a two-lap, wetsuit-legal swim in the Han River before taking to the roads of the Park and the surrounding Yeouido District for the flat-but-technical eight-lap bike leg. The event wraps up with a four-lap run along the banks of the River.
The Elite women will kick things off at 10:00am on Saturday morning (UTC/GMT + 9 hours). Fifty-one women representing 18 countries are scheduled to start. Chile’s Barbara Riveros Diaz heads into Seoul ranked number one in the world after winning the Series opener in Sydney four weeks ago. The 22-year-old will have plenty of competition, namely from a pair of Emma’s from Australia.
Defending ITU World Champion Emma Moffatt is ready for her second start of the 2010 campaign and will look for her first win of the year after finishing third in Sydney. Beijing Olympic gold medallist Emma Snowsill will be making her first start since last June after undergoing hip surgery late last year and then being sidelined with a debilitating virus for the beginning of the 2010 season.
“My body feels good, my last couple of weeks of training have been very solid and I’m highly motivated to have a good season following the frustrations I endured with injury last year,” Snowsill said.
Another to keep an eye on is perennial podium contender Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand, who found herself in the middle of the three-woman sprint to the line in Sydney. Hewitt appears in top form entering this season, after starting off the season with a win at the Oceania Championships in Wellington and a runner-up finish in Sydney.
Others to watch for on Saturday include Sweden’s Lisa Norden, who finished as the runner-up to Moffatt in last year’s world rankings and Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf, who finished ninth in Sydney.
The men’s race will start at 1:00pm local time with 65 men representing 21 countries slated to start. Headlining the field is Kiwi Bevan Docherty, who enters the second of seven Series events ranked first in the world after running away with the win in Sydney. Docherty will start Saturday’s race only six days removed from finishing as the runner-up to American Hunter Kemper at the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon in San Francisco. In addition to fatigue, Docherty will have to overcome a head cold that surfaced earlier this week.
“”I’m not sure what effect it will have on me until race day,” Docherty said. “The good news is I am so fit at the moment that I can afford a few days off training this week. We will have to wait and see how I am feeling on Saturday.”
Currently sitting in second in the world rankings is Russian youngster Alexander Brukhankov, who finished just six seconds behind Docherty in Sydney and posted the day’s fastest run split. While the Russian has yet to win a major event, a sub 31-minute 10K on a tough course in Sydney proves he can run with the best of them. Brukhankov’s countryman, Dmitry Polyansky is also looking strong after finishing fourth in Sydney, and he’ll no doubt look to push the pace in the swim and lead out of the water.
As was the case in Sydney, two Olympic champions are on the start list in Seoul in the form of Canadian Simon Whitfield and Germany’s Jan Frodeno. Whitfield had a solid 2010 debut, finishing fifth in Sydney, while Frodeno was relegated to a disappointing 32nd-place showing after a bike crash entering the second transition.
Making his 2010 season debut in Seoul is 2008 world champion Javier Gomez of Spain, who was forced to sit out the Series opener due to a hip injury. The hip has since healed, but after missing a few weeks of run training, Gomez admits that his expectations are modest for Saturday.
“I have no high expectations for race day, and would just like to go out and enjoy the race,” Gomez said. “I am already thinking of Madrid (round three of the Series). I want to be fit and ready to try to win there.”
Live video coverage from Seoul will be available on race day at triathlonlive.tv. Text and timing updates will also be made available at triathlon.org/live. Follow @ITUOnline on Twitter for text updates on race day. Live coverage starts at 10am on race day. Click here for a time zone conversion.