ITU Kitzbuhel Preview: Paula Findlay goes for third straight title of 2011, Chris McCormack makes return to ITU

If Paula Findlay defends her Kitzbühel title, she will become the most successful woman in the history of the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series. On the same weekend on of the most successful ITU triathletes ever makes his comeback. Chris McCormack will set off on his road to 201

The battle for the 2011 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series is back this weekend in Kitzbühel after one of the shortest rests in the 2011 – with just one weekend between Madrid and the Austrian round.This year, all eyes are set to be on Canadian Paula Findlay as she defends a title for the first time.  She will be gunning for her third straight victory of 2011 as she is in reach of capturing five Dextro Energy Triathlon Series race titles to become the most successful woman in the series. Among the men, Alistair Brownlee will be looking for his second win in a row in 2011 – particularly with the two series leaders, Javier Gomez and Jonathan Brownlee sitting this round out.STORIES TO WATCH FOR: Paula Findlay eyes record-breaking win streak – She’s the star that just keeps rising and if Paula Findlay defends her Kitzbühel title, she will become the most successful woman in the history of the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series. The 22 year-old Canadian currently has four wins, which came from her last five races, the same number of wins as two-time ITU World Champion Emma Moffatt. If Findlay can take her third consecutive win in this year’s series this weekend, she will also take a commanding lead in the 2011 ITU World Championship rankings. Men’s podium a little more open: The podium is set to look a little different than the first two rounds with the two leading men in the Dextro Energy Triathlon Series, Javier Gomez and Jonathan Brownlee, and the reigning Olympic champion, Jan Frodeno, sitting it out to prepare for the European championships. Expect the likes of Bevan Docherty, Simon Whitfield, Alexander Brukhankov, Steffen Justus, Sven Riederer, Dmitry Polyansky and last year’s winner Stuart Hayes to contend. The top of that podium might not change much from the last round, as Alistair Brownlee is on the start list.  He has won in Kitzbühel before and looked unbeatable in his impressive Madrid win.Australian Chris McCormack, who is making a comeback, claimed the ITU World Championship and overall World Cup series win in 1997 and since then has gone on to have an equally impressive long
distance career, capturing Kona twice. But he announced earlier this year he would target a return to the ITU circuit with an aim to qualify for the London Olympics. This will be his first ITU race McCormack has competed in since 2004. No matter where he finishes, his comeback race will be interesting to watch. Also, keep an eye on the rest of the Australian contingent. Apart from rising star Brendan Sexton, who pulled out early in Madrid due to a stomach bug and won’t be racing in Austria, it has not been a great start to the season for Courtney Atkinson, Brad Kahlefeldt, Emma Snowsill and Emma Moffatt.
Olympic qualification: With London a little more than 12 months away, the qualification battle is really starting to heat up, but it isn’t just about the top athletes at the moment – there is an important battle for countries to secure the number of spots in London and points from every race counts. There are also a host of athletes aiming to make their fourth Olympics, and
five out of 10 men will race in Kitzbuhel, Simon Whitfield (CAN), Reto Hug (SUI), Ivan Rana (ESP), Juraci Moreira (BRA) and Tim Don (GBR). In the women’s field, only two women have been to every Olympics so far, Anja Dittmer (GER) and Kiyomi Niwata (JPN) and both are still active – Niwata raced in Madrid and Dittmer will race in Kitzbühel.
About the race: Kitzbühel is one of the smallest host cities on the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series circuit, but it’s quickly become one of the most popular as athletes and fans alike take in the charming town set at the foot of the Austrian Alps. It has a steep and hilly bike course that always factors in the final podium. The town of just 8,400 residents is known as an year-round destination for sports and outdoor lovers but was first known for its skiing, with the surrounding mountains having some of the toughest runs in Europe. SCHEDULE:Elite men start – Saturday 18 June – 14.30 (UTC/GMT + 2)
Elite women start – Sunday 19 June – 12:30 (UTC/GMT + 2)
TOTAL PRIZE MONEY:$150,000 USD (equal for men & women)  COURSE PROFILE:Swim – Two-lap, 1.5kilometre swim with a pontoon start for athletes to dive into the Schwarzsee Lake. Water temperature averages around 22 degrees and wetsuits are not expected.Bike – Six-lap, 40-kilometre that includes sharp bends, a challenging climb and fast narrow descents and through beautiful centre of Kitzbühel. Each lap is 6.68km.Run – Four-lap, 10-kilometre run on a flat, fast loop that comes back through transition each time.PREVIOUS KITZBÃœHEL WINNERS 2010 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Kitzbühel1. Paula Findlay (CAN) – 1. Stuart Hayes (GBR)
2009 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Kitzbühel

1. Emma Moffatt (AUS) – 1. Alistair Brownlee (GBR)

2008 Kitzbühel BG Triathlon World Cup

1. Nicola Spirig (SUI) – 1. Ivan Rana (ESP)

2007 Kitzbühel BG Triathlon World Cup

1. Andrea Hewitt (NZL) – 1. Simon Whitfield (CAN)