The Dextro Energy ITU World Champs Triathlon Series begins another season with race one in Sydney this Sunday and a host of New Zealanders will be on the start line looking to make their mark in the eight race 2010 series that resembles Formula One in its search for a world champion.
Leading the way is two time Olympic Games medalist Bevan Docherty as the former Taupo now USA based triathlete looks to put a poor 2009 behind him. Docherty arrives in Sydney on Friday from the West Coast of America and believes he is in great shape to start the season well.
“I’m very fit and healthy and in good shape, just as it seems some of the others are falling apart but no, the old Kiwi guy seems to be holding together, I’m looking forward to blowing the cobwebs out and racing well.
“Last year was a poor year, I reckon I did most things at no more than 95% and I had a few injury and illness issues. This year though is a different thing altogether, I can tell you right now I will have a better season this year, I am incredibly driven and motivated right now.”
Alistair Brownlee (GBR) and Javier Gomez (ESP) are both struggling with injury at the start of the season but Docherty understands why.
“One of the reasons why they are so good is they train all the time and push the limits, it is part of the sport, it is all very well being super fit but you have to remain injury free. But despite that this is still an awesome field with Beijing gold medalist Jan Frodeno (GER), Sydney gold medalist Simon Whitfield (CAN), Gemmell and a bunch of Aussies to name a few.
“This is just an awesome venue and it is going to look great on TV, racing around the Sydney waterfront and the Opera House, I’m looking forward to tackling this course. It might come down to a foot race but at the start of the season you never know who has been focusing on what. I’m sure the Russians will swim quickly and look to get away on the bike so you have to be prepared to cover all bases on the day.”
Alongside will be great mate and world number 8 Kris Gemmell who has stayed back in Palmerston North for his base training and is equally enthused about the year ahead.
“It is the first race of the year and a cool one to be involved in back at the first Olympic triathlon venue; Takapuna and Wellington are distant memories and no more than tune up events, the talking ends and the walking starts here.
“Everything has gone well, I’ve got through some hard weeks back down from altitude which is hard for me, but it is good back here with the extra eyes on me like swim coach Andrew Nicholls and with my support services at home making it easier.
“I learned a lot from last year how to run a long series, our summer has been good so it is time to make some early points and get an edge over the Europeans who will go well later in the year when we might be having a little break ahead of the final push at Budapest, this is a good marker.”
Other Kiwis on the start line for New Zealand include Clark Ellice (New Plymouth), Martin van Barneveld (Wellington), Callum Millward (Auckland), Ryan Sissons (Auckland), Ben Pattle (Auckland) and Tony Dodds (Wanaka), each with their own objectives in this race and in the season overall.
For Ellice the goal is to swim well and not get hung up over running too quickly this early in the season.
“As much as it would be great to be running a sub 30min 10k this early in the season, my focus has remained on a big swim on Sunday. I can’t help but be in awe of watching the first three WCS last season and being gob smacked at the pace the usual suspects Gomez, Brownlee and Maiky Petzold set along with the crazy fast swimming Russian trio of the Vassiliev brothers and Polyansky and Beulabre and Poulet from France.
For Wanaka’s Dodds, fourth at the U23 World Championships last year, it is a case of racing well after a disappointing start to the season.
“I am currently in Brisbane training with the Aussies, Jimmy Seear and Josh Amberger and the training has been quite full on with a lot of strength work, especially after Mooloolaba we were straight into it. It is a lot different to NZ training and how I am used to training, and definitely a learning experience to see what these guys do. I now better understand why they are so strong on the swim and bike. I love it and feel that I am much more prepared going into this race, I feel confident and strong, if I do all the little things right and focus on the feel of the race, then the result will come, so really looking forward to it.”
Auckland’s Ben Pattle has more reason than most to perform well as he looks to push for inclusion in Tri NZ’s High Performance Groups following a disappointing race at the ITU Mooloolaba World Cup.
“Training has been going well since Mooloolaba, although I have been hampered with a persistent Achilles injury that restricts my running a bit. I am on top of it now but the first couple of days after Mooloolaba I could barely walk. I have put in some solid training since then and am now just freshening up before the weekend. I’m hungry for a good race after my shocker at the last World Cup.