Australia’s elite triathletes will test themselves both physically and mentally when they line up for two days of â€œfast and furiousâ€ racing at the 2011 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Sprint events in Lausanne this weekend.
The home of the International Olympic Committee in Switzerland will host the men’s and women’s ITU World Triathlon Sprint Championships (750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run) on Saturday before the ITU World Teams Championship on Sunday â€“a race where each of four team members â€“ two men and two women – completes a super-sprint distance triathlon (275m swim, 6km bike and 1.5km run) before tagging their next teammate.
The ITU is currently advocating for the Teams format to been included on the Olympic program for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Australia’s biggest names, defending ITU World Champion Emma Moffatt, Olympic champion Emma Snowsill, and rising star Emma Jackson will be joined on Saturday’s start line by â€“ Felicity Abram, Ashleigh Gentle and Felicity Sheedy-Ryan in the women’s event while Brad Kahlefeldt will lead a young men’s group of Brendan Sexton, James Seear, Aaron Royle, Cameron Good and Drew Box.
- The women’s race will start at 8:50pm (Saturday night AEST) while the men’s race will start at 11pm (Saturday night AEST).
Australia has named two strong teams for Sunday’s Teams Championship â€“ the Gold Team of Moffatt, Jackson, Kahlefeldt and Sexton and the Green team of Snowsill and Gentle joined by Under 23s Mitch Robins and Peter Kerr.
- Sunday’s Teams Race will start at 9:45pm (Sunday, AEST).
Australia’s National Head Coach Shaun Stephens knows how physically and mentally draining this time of the season can be on his group.
â€œThe Lausanne sprint race will be challenging both physically and mentally. Physically, as it is only two weeks post the London World Championship event which is not a lot of time to recover and prepare for what will be a very fast race on Saturday,â€ says Stephens.
â€œThe course in Lausanne will be quite demanding with a challenging hill on the bike and with the distance being half the normal Olympic distance, the pace will be extremely quick from the start.
â€œIt will also be challenging mentally having just come off racing the important Olympic Test event in London two weeks earlier.
â€œAll our athletes racing on Saturday have pulled up well from London although some have taken a little longer to recover than usual, particularly given the cold conditions which caused some cramping and excessive post-race muscle soreness.â€
Although Australia’s top athletes started the year slowly, many of them have shown very good form over the last two events in Hamburg and London which is when they were asked to peak.
The battle for the Women’s World Championship title is extremely tight with only eight points separating the top three positions.
Chile’s Barbara Riveros Diaz (2498 points) leads the rankings from New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt (2493 points) and Canadian Paula Findlay (2490 points).
But with Findlay not racing in Lausanne, both Riveros Diaz and Hewitt are in the driver’s seat to put themselves in the No.1 spot heading into Beijing.
There are three Australians in top 10 â€“ Moffatt (5th), Jackson (9th) and Snowsill (10th) who will all be looking to improve upon those positions in Lausanne in order to be vying for World Championship medals at the ITU Grand Final in Beijing on September 10 and 11.
Moffatt (2061) is a renowned sprinter, who was second to Sweden’s Lisa Norden in the World Sprint Championship last year and with the injured Findlay not racing and the lure of bonus points in Beijing, a top three position is certainly in the offing.
The men’s field sees Kahlefeldt in a strong position (after his win in Hamburg and eighth in London) to continue to climb the all-important rankings ladder after his slow start to the year.
Kahlefeldt is currently sitting in eighth position and he knows a good result in Lausanne will see him improve upon this position ahead of Beijing.
â€œWe are in a very healthy position, 12months out from an Olympic Games,â€ said Stephens.
â€œWhilst we are monitoring the World Championship points status, we remain focused on maximising the performances of each individual ahead of each race.
â€œThe biggest challenge during this final four weeks of the year is to keep the athletes fit, healthy and mentally ready to perform, given the high demands of the series both physically and mentally over the previous four-month period.â€
Stephens said the Australians were excited about Sunday’s Teams format.
â€œThe Teams race will be extremely exciting and is a terrific concept for the sport moving forward,â€ said Stephens.
â€œWe have two very strong teams entered and will be looking to challenge the Swiss team who have claimed the title for the past two years.
â€œIt is such a fast and dynamic format that you can’t afford to make any mistakes.
â€œFrom previous year’s experience, we know this format requires exceptional speed and tactical awareness.
â€œThe shorter distance allows for specialist sprint athletes to feature meaning many countries entering teams with athletes that do not feature prominently in Olympic distance events are a real threat over this format.
â€œThis just adds to the excitement of the race and all of our athletes are looking forward to the event and competing as a team rather than as individuals.â€
Stephens said he would obviously assess how everyone pulls up after Saturday’s race before finalising his teams.
Youngsters Robins and Kerr who are being used in Team Green are not racing the individual race on Saturday and therefore will have fresh legs which may prove to be an advantage.