The USA’s Gwen Jorgensen has been on fire so far this year and will toe the start line in the No.1 in Austria, but how she has won so far throws up questions about this race. Each time, she’s started with a deficit from the leaders on the bike leg and then used her brilliant 10km run splits to reel in those in front. In Kitzbühel, there is only 2.55km of running track to do that. Unless Jorgensen can leave T2 with the leaders she might not have enough ground to catch them up.
It puts the two women sitting just behind her in the rankings with a good chance to take the overall lead. Sitting in second place is Anne Haug, who has made a name for herself over gutsy solo breaks over the past two WTS seasons. While in the past she’s needed to after usually falling behind across the 1500m swim, the first leg in Austria this year is a sprint, at 750m, and then it’s all about the hill. A solo breakaway off the front from the German wouldn’t be surprising.
Great Britain’s Jodie Stimpson is currently in third place and is another that can’t be discounted on on both past results and current form. In the middle of what is her best ITU year so far, Stimpson can be expected to be in the contenders up front.
It’s also hard to discount two of the season’s other in-form women, Non Stanford and Felicity Abram. While Stanford’s stellar run helped her to climb onto the Madrid podium last month, it’s worth remembering that she claimed last year’s U23 World Championship on a bike course labelled one of the toughest ever, Auckland. Earlier this year Abram did the bulk of the work in a lead pack on the same course, on her way to a bronze medal.
Others that will surely contend include France’s Jessica Harrison, Ireland’s Aileen Reid, the USA’s Sarah Groff, Australia’s Emma Moffatt and Ashleigh Gentle, New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt, Nicky Samuels and Kate McIlroy. McIlroy already has a fondness for scaling mountains on foot, she won a world championship in mountain running in 2005. It’s been an outstanding year for the Netherlands team, so also keep an eye on Maaike Caelers after scoring a silver in Auckland and Rachel Klamer breaking through to win her first European title just last month.