Beijing Olympians, reigning World Champion Emma Moffatt and 2010 bronze medallist Brad Kahlefeldt will headline this weekend’s Australian National Elite Sprint Triathlon Championships in Geelong.
It will be the first race in the Triathlon Australia 2011 National Triathlon Championship Series, the start for some that will take them to this year’s World Championships and for a select few, all the way to next year’s London Olympic Games.
The Series will continue in Mooloolaba for the Olympic Distance race for Age Group and Elite on March 27 and culminate with the opening round of the Dextro Energy ITU World Championships which will include the Series Age Group race on April 10.
This Saturday will see the Elite Men’s race start at 4.45pm over the exciting sprint course – a 750m swim (one lap); 20 kilometre bike (four laps) and a 5 kilometre run (two laps) as part of the three-day Geelong Multi-Sport Festival.
Kahlefeldt will spearhead a field that will include outstanding French Olympian Laurent Vidal, British Olympian, World and Under 23 Champion Will Clarke, as well as a host of exciting young Australians including local Victorian athletes Brendan Sexton and Jamie Huggett.
While Kahlefeldt will be making his season debut, Vidal has one race under his belt after winning the Contact Tri Series Sprint race in Wanaka, NZ last month. (See: Laurent Vidal steals the Tony Dodds Show and his Money at the Contact Triathlon Series)
Vidal left the leaders stranded in the final stages of the run when he took off to claim an impressive victory over the short course.
Sunday’s women’s race (2:45pm) will feature Australia’s three reigning World Champions, Olympic bronze medallist Emma Moffatt (Elite Women), Emma Jackson (Under 23 women) and Ashleigh Gentle (Junior Women), as well as Australian U23 World Championships Team representative Charlotte McShane. Racing alongside Australia’s women will be Canada’s 2006 World Junior Champion Kirsten Sweetland, who finished 2nd to Emma Jackson in the U23 World Championships in Budapest last year, and Beijing Olympians Lauren Campbell (CAN) and Vendula Frintova (CZE).
Saturday will also see the first of the 2011 Australian National Triathlon Championship Series Age Group races and the third of the 2011 Australian ITU Junior Series men’s race (3pm), with the women’s race set for Sunday (1pm).
Both Elite and Age Group competitors earn points towards a final ranking that will result in Triathlon Australia crowning its 2010-11 Australian Championship Series Champions.
The Series races also hold qualification points towards selection for the Triathlon Australia Age Group and Junior World Championship Teams for the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championships final in Beijing (September 10,11).
Triathlon Australia’s National Head Coach, Shaun Stephens said the racing in Geelong should be a â€œred hotâ€ start to the Australian Championship Series with quality fields.
â€œFor our elite competitors like Emma Moffatt and Brad Kahlefeldt it will be a race to see where they’re at â€“ the first time they have raced since the World Championship final in Budapest last September,â€ said Stephens.
â€œIt will be a case of some of our seasoned hard heads against the hot shot youngsters, who all have some racing under their belts.
â€œThe Sprint distance is always an ideal hit out to see where they are at with their training and the chance to win an Australian title.
â€œIn the women’s you can rest assured Moffatt will give it a red hot go from the start with other notable swimmers Jackson and Sweetland.
â€œIn the men’s race Vidal has a race under his belt in New Zealand and that will help him, while someone like Khalefeldt will always race to win – you have to remember these guys are preparing to race in April and May and they face a long season ahead.
â€œOverall the weekend will be an ideal opportunity for the next crop of youngsters to step up and challenge and show what they have, to put the pressure on the established athletes.