Australia will enter this weekend’s round of the Dextro Energy Triathlon â€“ ITU World Championship Series with its four big guns fit and firing on what has historically been a happy hunting ground for those in the green and gold.
Reigning ITU world champion Emma Moffatt completely dominated last year’s race to win by a minute on the crowdâ€lined course in the German port city of Hamburg, while Emma Snowsill, who emphatically announced her return from injury with a win in the world’s richest race in the USA last month, secured silver in the world championship when she raced here in 2007.
For Brad Kahlefeldt, it has been one of his most productive events, having finished on the podium four times, including silver last year. He will battle compatriot Courtney Atkinson who has been perhaps the most consistent performer on the international circuit over the past few months with three successive podium finishes among top company.
Kahlefeldt will use Saturday to try and reignite his season, after a recent leg injury dampened a strong start to the year in which he won the ITU Mooloolaba World Cup and claimed bronze in the world championship race in Seoul.
â€œAfter Seoul I had some problems with my shin, so I had to back off the running a bit,â€ Kahlefeldt said. â€œIt was the result of a fall in a German league race and this affected my performance in Des Moines (ITU Elite Cup). I have been running normal kilometers now with normal intensity, so everything seems to be back on track for this next block of races which is good news.
â€œI’ve had four podium finishes in Hamburg over the years, so I would really like to win one day. We’ll see what happens. It is one of my favourite races on the circuit â€“ nice course, great crowd and nice German hospitality.â€
Atkinson was struck down by a stomach bug this time last year and is hoping for better luck during what is a crucial part of the season, with three world championship races scheduled over the next four weeks.
â€œI had a bad few months in the middle of last season when a lot of racing was on, before recovering to finish fifth in the Grand Final on the Gold Coast,â€ Atkinson said. â€œThis year the plan is to try to limit interruptions and hiccups over these important next few months.â€ The Queenslander said there was no frustration at missing an elusive world championship series gold medal, despite coming close in Seoul, Madrid and Des Moines.
â€œThere’s no frustration,â€ he said. â€œI haven’t been beaten by the same person all year. My priority is the world championship and this requires consistency in racing.â€
Moffatt, too, has made the podium a happy habit this year without cracking it for a big win. She said her preparation for Hamburg had been good and it was a race she looked forward to. â€œI think most of the athletes love Hamburg â€“ it’s a big race for us as it’s been going for years and the crowd there is like no other,â€ she said. â€œIt makes for a great atmosphere to race in, plus the course is exciting.â€
Snowsill will be looking to vault up the ITU world rankings. Just two races back from an 11- month layâ€off due to injury and illness, the reigning Olympic champion made a solid comeback in Seoul, finishing sixth, before blowing away the field in the ITU Elite Cup with a stunning run leg. The next few races in Hamburg and London will determine if the threeâ€time world champion can claw back enough points to challenge for another title.
Emma Snowsill Photo credit: ITU / Delly Carr