By Mike Hughes
(Prize purse and start lists below)
The WTC owned 5150 series was announced with a bang last year and has proven to have mixed success. In general the races that WTC bought from already established Olympic Distance Triathlons have continued to be hugely successful while the races that WTC announced they were going to start from scratch were mainly postponed until 2012. With long course triathlon participation booming predominantly due to WTC it will certainly be brilliant for the sport of triathlon if WTC can continue to invest the funds needed to make this more family friendly, Olympic Distance triathlons a world wide successful series in 2012.
Like the Ironman 70.3 and Ironman events professional athletes had to accrue points to qualify for the richest triathlon in the world, the Hy-Vee US 5150 Championships. The top 25 female and male athletes qualify from their best three qualifying races. Five invitational athletes are also added to the start list for a total of 30 male and 30 female athletes racing for just over a million dollars in prize money. So good is the prize purse that even if an athlete comes last they still walk away with an almost identical pay cheque to coming 2nd at the 2011 Ironman Australia.
As always there is a strong representation from Australia. The ever successful Greg Bennett always performs well in major races and is a likely podium candidate if last week’s 2nd place at the Chicago Triathlon didn’t take too much out of him.
This is also the first year that the two reigning World Ironman Champions will be racing and they are both Australians.
Chris McCormack’s ITU training and racing should hold him in good stead for a top place finish. He may no longer run as well as some of the ITU guys off a draft legal bike but throw in his incredible time trialling ability, his strong running and a big pay cheque and Macca will undoubtedly be in mix.
The two other male Aussies qualifiers are the far younger Josh Amberger and Tim Reed. Josh has proven he is one of the better swimmers in the sport and when in form can ride with the best also. His run tends to let him down a little at times but there is little doubt that Josh has a huge future in non-drafting racing. Reed proved to have the run speed to do well if he is in touch off the bike with the fastest runs at Washington DC and New York 5150. However his relative late start to triathlon means there is still some work to do on his swimming consistency which could be hugely important for Sunday. Tim has spent the past week in bed with illness so it could be a tough day out there for him.
The men’s race isn’t one to bet on. There are too many incredible athletes to choose from. However it’s hard to go past Tim O Donnell, Rasmus Henning and Andy Potts as being front runners for the win.
On the women’s side, Aussies, Mirinda Carfrae, (Emma Moffat has just pulled out with her place to be taken by Nicole Spirig – 2 Sept 2011), Pip Taylor, Annabelle Luxford and Nikki Butterfield will be racing. Carfrae will certainly have the bike and run speed but may have some catching up to do out of the swim to get to the likes of Luxford, Moffatt and the other front pack ITU swimmers. The talk is that she has been training the house down for Kona this year so she may be a little tired on race day. Luxford has been very impressive in the non-drafting format putting significant time into competitors with a lethal swim/bike combination.
Pip Taylor has had some time with nagging injuries but is improving back to her old dominant form with every race. Nikki Butterfield had a baby only last year but with a professional cycling background can make up lost time from a weaker swim and runs well. Emma Moffat would have to go down as the female favourite but there are many athletes racing that have beat her before.
It will be hard to get past Sweden’s Lisa Norden however if she is in race ready mode. Also Laura Bennett will be one of the leaders out of the water and will be strong on the bike as well.
When there is much money on the line there is certainly going to be some desperately hard and exciting racing to follow.
To follow the race on Sunday afternoon (U.S time) go to www.hy-veetriathlon.com
2011 Hy-Vee 5150 Elite Cup Prize Purse
|Place||Men & Women
|Lap Bonus – M||$51,500|
|Lap Bonus – W||$51,500|
2011 Start Lists
|12||Amanda Felder Derkacs||USA|
|29 (?)||Nicole Spirig||SUI|