Tiszaujvaros might be the second longest running event on the ITU calendar, but this year it celebrates its 16th anniversary with an innovative new twist. The iconic triathlon stop in Hungary becomes the first World Cup to be decided with an exciting two-day sprint semifinals and finals structure.
The total number of entries will decide the number of semifinals, and this weekend there will be two women’s semifinals and three men’s semifinals on Saturday, which will start as waves. Every semifinal will qualify a fixed number of athletes for the final and additionally a number of athletes will qualify based on the best times. For example, in the women’s event where the field is between 31 and 60, there will be two semifinals, the top 14 in each will go through to the final and a further two will go through on time, creating a final field of 30. A full breakdown of the numbers and rules can be found on page 55, section 20 of the ITU Competition Rules here.
Elite Women’s Preview
Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle will wear the No.1 in this semifinal. She young rising star has been impressive in 2012, finishing 10th in three ITU World Triathlon Series races, taking bronze in Banyoles and runner-up at the Oceania Championships. But Gentle will face competition from fellow Australians Natalie Van Coevorden and Charlotte McShane, London-bound Helle Frederiksen (DEN), 2011 U23 world championships medallist Rebecca Robisch (GER), 2010 Youth Olympic Games medallist Kelly Whitley (USA), Japan’s Hideko Kikuchi and 2011 ITU Junior World Champion Mikayla Neilsen (NZL).
Semifinal 2: London-bound athletes Alexandra Razarenova (RUS), Annamaria Mazzetti (ITA) and Maaike Caelers (NED) top the seeds in the second semifinal, but there will be strong competition from up and coming talent like home favourites Zsofia Kovacs, 2011 U23 World Championships silver medallist and Eszter Dudas. There’s also Russia’s Mariya Shorets and Anna Burova, Germany’s Sarah Fladung, Canada’s Manon Letourneau.
Elite Men’s Preview
Argentina’s Gonzalo Tellechea, who is putting the finishing touches on his Olympics campaign, will headline this semifinal along with Australia’s Drew Box, Ryan Bailie and the USA’s Gregory Billington. But all in this heat will have to contend with one of the quickest runners currently on the ITU circuit, Lukas Verzbicas. The 2011 ITU Junior World Champion won his first ITU World Cup title in his debut race in Banyoles just last month, and although he finished 32nd in his WTS debut in Kitzbuehel, his run split was only second to winner Alistair Brownlee. Also keep an eye on Youth Olympic Games medallist Alois Knabl (AUT), and Team ITU alumni Ognjen Stojanovic (SRB) and Aleksandr Latin (EST).
Italy’s Davide Uccellari tops the list of contenders in the second heat. He secured his Olympic spot with his first World Cup podium in Ishigaki earlier this year, and is in form as he prepares for London. Those trying to stop his path through to the final include Russia’s Igor Polyanskiy, Australia’s Ryan Fisher, Mitchell Kealey and Dan Wilson, and rising South African star Wian Sullwald. Sullwald competed at the Youth Olympic Games and has collected six junior men’s wins over the past two years, as well as a bronze medal at the 2011 All Africa Games.
One thing for certain is that it will be a fast pace from the start in this semifinal, with strong swimmers Aurelien Raphael (FRA) and Andrey Bryukhankov (RUS) in this heat. Others to watch include Australia’s Peter Kerr, New Zealand’s Tony Dodds, Morocco’s Mehdi Essadiq, Russia’s Valentin Meshcheryakov and Hungary’s Akos Vanek, who claimed bronze here last year. Also sure to get a huge reception from the home crowd is three-time Olympian Csaba Kuttor. who is racing in his first ITU race since 2010.
The 2012 Tiszaujavros ITU World Cup gets underway when the first Elite Women’s semifinals starts at 1:30pm (local time) on Saturday 14 July. Semifinals will start in waves every 20 minutes, followed by the first men’s heat at 4.20pm. The finals will follow on Sunday 15 July with the women’s at 3:30pm followed by the men’s final at 4:50pm.