Emma Moffatt enters the race as series leader and theÂ men are ready to hit top gear.
A tough turnaround after some intense racing and a mixed bag of results sees the Australian team facing a challenging task in the London round of the Dextro Energy Triathlon â€“ ITU World Championship Series this weekend.
Emma Moffatt returned to the top of the world rankings with a silver medal in Hamburg on Sunday, but leads by just four points from Japan’s Mariko Adachi, while previous series leader, Chilean Barbara Riveros Diaz, returns this weekend having sat out the Hamburg event.
Emma Snowsill will attempt to bounce back following a disappointing swim put her out of contention last weekend. On the other side of the ledger, Beijing Olympian Erin Densham makes her first World Championship Series appearance of the year having undergone heart surgery last year and subsequently made a steady comeback, capped by last month’s win in the Holten World Cup. Felecity Abram (10th in Hamburg) and Annabel Luxford (16th) have also delivered recent promising results.Â Â
Triathlon Australia’s head coach Shaun Stephens said London presented both a mental and physical challenge, with the women backing up after just five days and the men after seven.
â€œBoth Hamburg races were very intense, so it will come down to the athletes who have prepared best, recovered the most, and are able to get themselves mentally ready to race another tough race,â€ Stephens said.
â€œMoffy will enter the race as series leader and is in a great frame of mind with the determination to defend her world championship title.
â€œSnowy is obviously disappointed with her Hamburg performance. She is reviewing her nutritional requirements with our nutritionist in an attempt to avoid suffering from the cramping she experienced in the swim. Snowy is a great champion and demonstrated that â€“ even after such a tough start in Hamburg she was still able to record a blistering fast 10km run.
â€œErin is an exciting addition to our team for London. She has come off some impressive performances recently and after skipping last week’s event will be looking to be among the action at the front in London.â€
Abram was almost lost to the sport after missing selection for Beijing by a whisker, but she is now rejuvenated and excited by the added incentive to do well at the venue where the 2012 Olympics will be held.
â€œIt’s great to be racing again, that’s for sure,â€ she said. â€œI went into Hamburg wanting a top 10 result, but I only flew in on Thursday, so I didn’t place too much expectation on myself. I was satisfied with the result but hope to now keep improving.
â€œMy main focus in London is on the swim because, for me, a good swim can really set up my race. There is definitely incentive to do well on this course â€“ it would be a confidence booster for the next few years and selection.â€
The men, too, have incentive to perform in London. Courtney Atkinson was surprisingly flat in Hamburg, eventually pulling out of the race on the run, and while Brad Kahlefeldt managed a solid sixth place, London was the venue where his world championship hopes evaporated last year when he cut his foot on a competitor’s bike in a crowded transition area. After some recent time off with a minor leg complaint, he’s looking for a good showing on Sunday.
â€œI was quite happy with sixth and felt great in the swim and bike, but the time off due to injury made it hard to hold pace with Javier Gomez and the lead guys on the run,â€ Kahlefeldt said. â€œI needed a hard race and that is exactly what I got, so hopefully it should keep me in good stead for the remaining races.
â€œYes, I do have some bad memories from London last year with the sliced foot, but they have changed the T2 (transition area) a little, so hopefully it will not be a problem!â€
Atkinson, having snared three podium finishes in a row before Hamburg, was at a loss to explain his last-start misfire and said he just has to put it down to having a bad day.
â€œNo excuses, I just didn’t have it,â€ he said. â€œI tried like usual to put myself into the right positions throughout the race but once there I couldn’t capitalise, with either my arms initially and then with my legs in the bike and run. I flew away at the beginning of the run but slowly I was being eaten up by the field until I was literally jogging and that was the point I made the decision that it would be smarter to wait for another day.â€
The men’s assignment is a tough one. They will be up against reigning world champion Alistair Brownlee, on home soil and well rested having skipped Hamburg; rejuvenated Spanish star Javier Gomez, who ground out a gutsy win last weekend; and in-form series leader, Germany’s Olympic champion Jan Frodeno.
2010 DEXTRO ENERGY TRIATHLON â€“ ITU WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Elite women start – Saturday, July 24 – 1:00pm (UTC/GMT + 1 hour) -Â click here to view time in your location.
Elite men start – Sunday July 18 – 4:00pm (UTC/GMT + 1 hour) -Â click here to view time in your location.
Live video, text and timing updates will be available during both Elite races at www.triathlon.org/tv