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Auckland Preview: The battle for the 2013 ITU World Triathlon series starts here

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It marked the end of the World Triathlon Series last year, with a thrilling Grand Final punctuating an incredible season, but this year Auckland is just the start. The 1.5km harbour swim, followed by the eight-lap 40km bike through New Zealand’s largest city (complete with three separate climbs per lap) and a fast and technical four-lap 10km run marks the first stop of the 2013 ITU World Triathlon Series. With deep fields on offer in both the elite men’s and women’s races, it promises to be one worth watching.

Elite Women’s Preview
Germany’s Anne Haug turned on the biggest race of her life in Auckland last year, pulling out a stellar run leg after an equally excellent bike to earn her first major ITU win in the final race of the season. The pint-sized star has already started off 2013 exactly where she left off, with a dominating performance in Mooloolaba to claim the first ITU World Cup of the season.

Those two performances mean that Haug deserves to be favourite to take the first World Triathlon Series title of the 2013 season this weekend, but there are a host of contenders who will be primed to do the same.

The field also includes last year’s silver medallist Gwen Jorgensen (USA), whose incredible 34 minute 10second run split was one of the standout legs of the entire season, let alone last year’s final.  It also proved that the Auckland podium is not always decided on the bike, Jorgensen started the run from the chase group but blew through the pack for her second series medal. Chile’s Barbara Riveros Diaz finished behind Jorgensen on the podium in the Grand Final race, and is another multiple series medallist who is always dangerous and back to try her luck in Auckland. Then there is the in-form Jodie Stimpson (GBR), her fifth place in the Auckland Grand Final is her best WTS career result and she is coming off a silver medal in Mooloolaba.

It’s hard to discount the strong Kiwi team racing at home, with multiple series winner Andrea Hewitt leading the way. Hewitt dominated the course to win the ITU World Cup event here in 2011, and Nicky Samuels and Kate McIlroy also have a racing style that suits this course. Also keep an eye out for ITU legend Samantha Warriner. The seven-time World Cup winner is making her return to racing after the birth of her daughter Lola-Rose in 2012.

If the pack is still together when it comes to the run, then also watch for the Netherlands Maaike Caelers, who climbed onto two WTS podiums in the 2012 season, four-time Olympian Anja Dittmer (GER) and Australia’s Emma Jackson. Also keep an eye on Aileen Reid (nee Morrison). Last year she had a torrid day in Auckland with a DNF. Combined with her 43rd place in the Olympics and 36th in Hamburg, it seemed like an unfulfilled 2012 after posting two consecutive ITU podiums earlier in the year, a World Cup in Ishigaki and then the series event in Madrid. Reid is one of the series best on her day, and is coming off a sixth place in Mooloolaba.

Click here to view the elite women’s start list

Elite Men’s Preview
In parallels with the women’s race, the men’s race favourite is the man who took the 2012 Auckland Grand Final title and kickstarted his 2013 season with a win in Mooloolaba, Javier Gomez. The London Olympics silver medallist had one of his most memorable races in Auckland last year, just pipping Jonathan Brownlee over the line in an epic race finish to claim his first Grand Final series win. In Mooloolaba, he was similarly impressive – leading almost from go to whoa in his 13th ITU World Cup win. That win moved Gomez to second overall in the ITU World Cup winners list, moving clear of Simon Whitfield but behind Australia’s Brad Beven.

Aaron Royle on his way to the U23 win at Auckland last year - Credit: Janos Schmidt / ITU

Aaron Royle on his way to the U23 win at Auckland last year – Credit: Janos Schmidt / ITU

An opening series win would also help ink another piece of history, with no Brownlees on the start line, Gomez can move ahead of Jonathan on the list of WTS victories. Alistair Brownlee currently leads with 12 titles, with Gomez and Jonathan tied at four. A win here would be an excellent early-season points boost as Gomez aims to clasp the ITU World Championship back from Yorkshire’s finest brothers. Since 2008 the Brownlee’s and Gomez have had a monopoly on the ITU World Championship, Gomez won in 2008 and 2010, Alistair in 2009 and 2011 and Jonathan in 2012.

Those who are out to better the Spanish superstar include a strong German team of Steffen Justus and Jan Frodeno, France’s Laurent Vidal, Mooloolaba silver medallist Matt Chrabot, as well as New Zealand’s Ryan Sissons and Australia’s Aaron Royle – who took the 2012 Under23 World title on the course last year. If they can keep up on the tough bike leg, Spain’s Mario Mola and Portgual’s Joao Silva are definitely threats on the run course. Mola has often been touted by Gomez as the next Spanish superstar and has come tantalisingly close to an ITU podium over the past 12 months, while Silva is already a two-time series winner.

Then there is the Russian team, with almost a full hat trick of brothers. Together expect Alexander Bryukhankov and Andrey Bryukhankov, Ivan Vasiliev and Denis Vasiliev and Igor Polyanskiy to drive the pace at the start of the swim – alongside superfish Richard Varga – as well as feature in the tough bike. It’s also another chance for the elder Bryukhankov to break his streak as the most series medals without a win. Both Bryukhankov and Sven Riederer currently have six series medals, but are yet to stand on top of that WTS podium.

Click here to view the elite men’s start list

The 2013 ITU World Triathlon series gets underway on April 6 when the Elite Men start at 12.06pm, followed by the Elite Women’s race at 3.06pm. Be sure to follow all the action live through the ITU’s live video stream on www.triathlon.org/tv, or follow via Twitter at @triathlonlive.

International start times
Auckland: April 6 – 12:00 Noon
San Diego: April 5 – 16:00
Toronto/New York: April 5 – 19:00
London: April 6 – 00:00 Midnight
Sydney: April 6 – 10:00

A cyclist and tech geek at heart with a passion for new shiny things and a huge appetite for triathlon. I spend most of my time between managing two of Australia's best triathletes and a traditional corporate life.

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How To Qualify for Challenge’s The Championship for 2018

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Challenge Family has announced how triathletes can qualify for The Championship 2018, which once again takes place 3rd June, 2018 at the remarkable x-bionic® sphere in Samorin, Slovakia.

Qualification for The Championship 2018 commenced at Challenge Wanaka in February 2017 and will conclude at Challenge Salou in May 2018

Athletes have the chance to qualify for The Championship 2018 in a further 18 races taking place worldwide

Last year, the world’s top triathletes came together to race Challenge Family’s inaugural The Championship 2017, which took place in Samorin, Slovakia, and attracted an impressive line-up including double Olympic Champion Alistair Brownlee, winner of The Championship 2017 Lionel Sanders, former World Champion Sebastian Kienle, Challenge Gran Canaria winner Emma Pallant and the winner of The Championship 2017 Lucy Charles among others.

Lucy, who eventually triumphed at the event, was full of praise for the course and atmosphere, saying: “The race course was epic this year, and what’s amazing is that even though it was in its first year, the race drew in huge names and huge crowds, and the vibe was just electric. I can’t wait to see what The Championship 2018 brings, especially with so many chances for athletes to qualify.”

For professional athletes, the race carries with it a minimum prize purse of €150,000 and for its return this year, The Championship 2018 has a unique qualifying system in place that means pros will be able to qualify via global Challenge Family events. What’s more, there are still 18 races yet to take place, featuring middle and full distance races, as well as a number of side events, in locations such as Aruba, Melbourne and Brazil. The races are: Challenge Davos Festival, Challenge Iskandar Puteri, Challenge Madrid, Challenge Peguera-Mallorca, Challenge Aruba, Challenge Kanchanaburi, Challenge Forte Village Sardinia, Challenge Shepparton, Challenge Florianopolis, Challenge Wanaka, Challenge Mogan-Gran Canaria, Challenge Melbourne, Challenge Cerrado, Challenge Taiwan, Challenge Rimini, Corporate World Cup at Challenge Lisboa, Challenge Lisboa and Challenge Salou.

It’s not only the pros that will compete next year – all age group athletes have the chance to qualify with a top six age group finish at any global Challenge Family event during the qualification period, the last opportunity of which will be at Challenge Salou in May 2018. Furthermore, the top six teams in the female, male and mixed categories in relay events will also qualify for The Championship at Challenge Family events.

Qualifying slots will roll down in each age group and relay category up to 12th place, however, there will not be a roll down system for professional athletes.

Upon qualifying, the top six teams in each female, male and mixed category in relay events will also qualify for The Championship 2018 team relay. A registration code will be sent to the qualifying age-group athlete (via email), allowing the athlete to complete the online registration form. Each qualifying athlete will then have four weeks to register for The Championship 2018.

Zibi Szlufcik, CEO of Challenge Family, says of The Championship 2018: “We are excited and determined to make next year’s The Championship even better than 2017. With so many Challenge Family races taking place globally, and inclusive qualification system for pro and age grouper athletes, we are sure to attract even more remarkable athletes to the event. Of course, we are thrilled yet again to be working with the incredible x-bionic® sphere, in addition to enforcing the highly regarded 20m draft rule to keep racing fair for all. We look forward to raising an even higher standard in international triathlon.”

The course is carefully curated so that the outstanding venue, x-bionic® sphere, forms the stunning backdrop of the starting, transitioning and finishing stages of the race, providing striking views for both the competing athletes as well as spectators.

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Super League Jersey Men’s Race Preview

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Richard Murray enjoys a lighthearted moment at St. Ouen's Bay on Jersey Island (photo: Googsi Creative / The Studio M)

Scores will be settled and champions will arise at Super League Jersey this weekend with 25 of the world’s best male athletes competing. Most of them are reprising their Super League Hamilton Island appearances alongside notable and speedy additions to the roster. Richard Murray, Mario Mola, and Jake Birtwhistle were the top three athletes after the racing on Hamilton Island, which occurred early in the general triathlon season.

Since then, Mola has defended his world title and Birtwhistle has earned a mixed relay world championship alongside his Australian teammates including Matt Hauser, who has now also won a junior world title. Murray was in the running to end the year ranked third in the world and took two bronzes and one silver on the world triathlon circuit. However, in the end, he was bumped down to fourth by Kristian Blummenfelt, who made his mark on Hamilton Island by winning the first two of the three stages in the Eliminator and then racked up three silvers and one bronze on the circuit.

“Super League Hamilton Island was the springboard for many of these men’s epic seasons,” says executive chairman and co-founder Chris McCormack. “They were able to showcase the qualities that have led to their success this year. At Super League Jersey that’s going to make them a target for the athletes who either have a score to settle from the previous event or have never raced them in these formats.”

Jonathan Brownlee is one of those new entrants; after missing Hamilton Island due to injury, the dual Olympic medalist and two-time sprint world champion is raring for a go over the Triple Mix and the Eliminator, the two formats featured in this weekend’s racing. While Brownlee has shown himself a force to reckon with over shorter distances, the even shorter super sprint distances and multiple stages over two days will be a new experience. “The exciting thing is it’s something completely different, completely new,” he says. He looks forward to racing on what he considers home soil. “The British seem to put on incredible sports events. We’ve got lots of people watching and have a good culture of support in sports. And I think Super League will be another great British race.”

With the racing over the Triple Mix format at Super League Jersey, the three stages will mix up the three disciplines of triathlon: Stage 1 is swim-bike-run, Stage 2 is run-bike-swim, and Stage 3 is bike-swim-run. Athletes will need to tap into their speed from the gun in Stage 1 due to the pursuit starts in Stages 2 and 3. They will start the succeeding stages in the order they finished the previous stage, separated by how much time they lost to the preceding finisher. This is slightly different from the mechanics used on Hamilton Island, where athletes started each stage at the same time. “We want to reward the fastest overall on the day, and the pursuit start allows that person to cross the final finish line first,” McCormack reveals.

Had this been done on Hamilton Island, Richard Varga would have won the day thanks to his quick times in the water and on the bike. “I was proud to finish fourth in points after three days of racing on Hamilton Island, but definitely this adjustment in the Triple Mix will suit my strengths,” Varga says.

Day 2 features the Eliminator, where over three stages of swim-bike-run the slowest athletes will be eliminated. Stage 2 will star the Top 15 from Stage 1, while only the Top 10 from Stage 2 will go on to Stage 3. On Hamilton Island, Murray could afford to come in third in Stage 3 as he had already amassed nearly insurmountable points lead from two previous days of racing.

But in Jersey with only two days of racing over which to rack up points from finish standings, it will be imperative not only to survive through to Stage 3 but also finish well.

Ben Kanute is one of the world’s best over the super sprint distance, securing the fastest overall swim-bike-run split in the 2016 mixed relay world championship win he shares with Team USA. Yet it remains to be seen whether he can replicate this feat over multiple stages with a scant 10 minutes between them. He is also coming off a runner-up performance over the half distance two weeks ago, which may impact his fleet-footedness.

“I set out to win every race I start at, so everyone is a target for me,” Kanute says. “Look for me to go off the front on the bike and shake things up. Everyone else out there, just try and hold my wheel.”

With this star-studded and speedy line-up, Super League Jersey could be anyone’s to win. Watch all the action live on www.superleaguetriathlon.com or youtube.com/superleaguetriathlon. The men’s races will stream at 1 pm on September 23rd and at 4 pm on September 24th (all times GMT+1).

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Do Your TrainingPeaks workouts in Zwift

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Are you a TrainingPeaks user and also love using Zwift on those days that aren’t great to be outdoors? Well, today marks a significant step forward for both companies as the integration just got a whole heap better for us.

Many of us are using TrainingPeaks because our coach uses it and they put the required workout information in there for us to complete (or not) plus it’s great for understanding certain key metrics.

From today, you can now do your TrainingPeaks Structured Training within Zwift without doing any fancy export/import or be recreating those sessions in Zwift – and hands up who has done that before? Just login to Zwift and make sure your account is linked to your TrainingPeaks account – you can check this on the connections page. If they are connected, disconnect and connect them again just to be safe. Next, make sure your workout has been saved via TrainingPeaks Structured Workout Builder.

Lastly, login to Zwift, select workouts, and find today’s workout under the TrainingPeaks dropdown. You’ll only see the workout for the current day, and it updates automatically each day.

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Super League Jersey Women’s Race Preview

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Rachel Klamer looks out onto St. Ouen's Bay on Jersey Island. (photo: Googsi Creative / The Studio M)

Super League Triathlon will make history this weekend as female athletes race its unique formats for the first time at Super League Jersey. “Our race on Hamilton Island earlier this year was an exhibition of what was to come. Super League Jersey is formally the first event of the Super League Triathlon season and we are proud to have the world’s best athletes male and female on our starting line,” says executive chairman and co-founder Chris McCormack.

The first day of racing will feature the Triple Mix, which will test athletes’ adaptability to switch-ups to the traditional swim-bike-run order of triathlon and rewards a willingness and ability to go hard from the gun. The Triple Mix has three stages (swim-bike-run, run-bike-swim, bike-swim-run) and pursuit starts in Stage 2 and 3 that will allow athletes to build a lead from Stage 1 and challenge them to hold onto that lead until the final finish line in Stage 3.

The most challenging may be in Stage 2 and Stage 3, as athletes are unaccustomed to swimming after cycling. “Legs will feel very heavy in that swim,” says McCormack. “Athletes with good swim mechanics and natural speed can get an edge on the competition here, and if they get a big enough gap and can hold onto it, they can very well win the day.”

Two such athletes are Carolina Routier and Lucy Hall, renowned for their prowess in the water. Hall might be the stronger cyclist between the two, but Routier has the better run, a common weakness among fast swimmers. Routier may have the insider’s edge; with fiance and training partner Mario Mola having placed overall runner-up on Hamilton Island, they may have rehearsed such scenarios.

“I’m just excited to give it my best. It’s something we don’t get to do on the regular triathlon circuit and anything can happen,” says Routier.

On the second day, the Eliminator will whittle the field down to the best of the best. Only the top 15 finishers in Stage 1 will proceed to Stage 2, and of those only, the fastest 10 can race Stage 3. Between each stage, the first athlete across the line will have ten minutes to recover, while succeeding athletes will have less time. The previous day’s racing may also play a role in how sprightly the athletes will be.

“The question posed to these athletes is: will they want to expend effort to get to the front and take advantage of a longer rest, or will they just avoid elimination in Stage 1 and 2, conserving the energy to power through to the Stage 3 win?” says McCormack.

In the previous race on Hamilton Island, it was not the veterans Richard Murray or Mario Mola who took the Eliminator win after three stages, but young Jake Birtwhistle who put on a burst of speed in the final 500 meters. From the women’s roster, athletes with a mixed relay world championship pedigree may rule this format, such as Kirsten Kasper (2016 – USA) and Charlotte McShane (2017 – Australia). The distances are similar, with the major difference being the multiple stages and the threat of elimination.

“I definitely think I have the run legs to get to the front of the pack,” says Kasper, a former collegiate cross-country and track star. “But it really depends on staying close enough to strike out for the win. This field is so deep, it’s going to take everything I have.”

London Olympic silver medalist Nicola Spirig and world championship bronze medalist Katie Zaferes will have targets on their backs. As Super League Hamilton Island showed, the big names in Olympic triathlon might not be the ones standing triumphant at the end of the day. Will this prove to be the case in Jersey?

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Super League Jersey Course preview with Ryan Fisher

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Super League this weekend will be nothing like the Hamilton Island event; apart from the excitement and exhaustion of course.

The Jersey course is going to be more tactically challenging for the athletes, with tiny winding corners and narrow roads. Ryan Fisher is in Jersey gearing up for the race, and he’s checked out the course in anticipation for Saturday.

Swim course

The 300-metre course is made up of a simple one-lap course with just two left turns.

“It’s pretty similar to the swim course in Hamilton Island [Super League]” said Fisher, “inside the rock wall where the swim will be, it’s pretty calm.”

Bike course

The bike course is going to be exceptionally tough, with many sections being just four metres wide. The bike course if made up of five laps creating a 5.5km course in total. There are six turns within the bike course and one U-turn.

“It’s really different to Hamilton Island as it’s pancake flat,” said Ryan Fisher. “In areas it’s only 5m wide, but there is no room for getting passed anyone as there’s a wall right there. If you have ten guys together, there are only two spots during each lap where you can pass people.”

The race will be fierce. “It will be corner – sprint – corner – sprint,” said Fisher.

Jersey is notorious (as is much of the UK) for rainy, wet weather, which will make the course even tougher. “There is a cobbled section, which will be very technical with water on it,” said Fisher.

Run course

The run course weaves along the same course as the bike leg, but is only two laps making the total distance 2 km. The Super League team says “it’s a tight, compact course and will be exciting for athletes and for fans.”

 

Thanks to Aussie Ryan Fisher for getting to Jersey early and giving us the inside scoop! We’re so excited for Super League Jersey!

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What you need to know about Super League in Jersey

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Super League is triathlon’s coolest, fastest, flashiest new event and it’s coming to the UK at the end of September. Here are a few of the highlights of Super League’s upcoming event plus the top picks for the podium.

Women’s event launch

Super League is launching its women’s event this month and we couldn’t be more excited. The Super League series was launched on Hamilton Island without a women’s event due to the top female triathletes being unable to attend. Now though, the top women are geared up for this exciting event including Lucy Hall, Emma Pallant, Non Stanford and Katie Zeferes to name just a few.

What’s the Jersey course like?

In the words of founder Chris Macca, “It’s a small, windy and technical course, and it could be cool and wet.” Bring on the excitement!

Why race in September?

Weather will be cooler in Jersey in September, but the water will be at its warmest after being heated throughout the summer months.

Who will win – Women’s?

Macca and Stuart Hayes discussed the fierce start list, and since Hayes coaches Pallant, they took her out of the predictions to eliminate bias.

Macca and Hayes reckon Jodie Stimpson might take out the win as she hasn’t had a hugely busy season and she’s an aggressive athlete.

Nicola Spirig could also be in with a chance at the top spot.

Of course, Emma Pallant is in with a huge chance too. “I’ve never seen anyone train like Emma, except the Brownlee brothers,” said Hayes.

Who will win – Men’s?

Stu is convinced anyone could take out the top spot as the race format is new for almost everyone. “No one has done an Eliminator properly,” said Hayes. Hayes reckons Jonny Brownlee is a likely champion as he hasn’t had a big year as he’s been sidelined with injury and illness.

Richard Varga could be in with a great chance to as he’s a fierce 800m runner.

Hayes thinks all the seasoned athletes shouldn’t ignore the very real threat of the junior athletes who are very used to racing sprint races. “They’re the guys to watch out for,” said Hayes.

Super League is officially the most exciting triathlon race format out there, and we can’t wait for Jersey this month.

Who do you think will win Jersey Super League?

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