The best New Zealanders and some of the best triathletes in the world had their say looking ahead to the Barfoot & Thompson ITU World Triathlon Auckland on Sunday, with press conferences held at The Cloud today, looking out over a beautiful Auckland day.
Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) and Gwen Jorgensen (USA) were amongst the stars to share their views on the event and the season ahead. Brownlee is the London Olympic Games bronze medallist and runner up to Javier Gomez (ESP) in the World Series in 2013 and loves the look of the Auckland course.
“I have been in New Zealand for about 3 weeks, I have done a long distance event but this is my first standard distance triathlon for the year, this is really my first race, New Plymouth has been great for training, I have enjoyed it with perfect quiet roads for training, great places to run and coming from England I needed 3 weeks to get over the time difference and I am looking forward to racing. I enjoyed it here in 2012, it is a pure triathlon course, the swim is tough it is an incredibly tough bike as well and that makes it interesting, I am looking forward to racing.”
Jorgensen already has a win under her belt from the Mooloolaba ITU World Cup but knows this course and the full standard distance presents so much more of a challenge.
“It is good to come out and have the first WTS race, I had a good race in Mooloolaba, that was a sprint World Cup race though so coming here is another step up in competition and in length of the race, it will be nice and exciting. Training is going pretty well, I am excited to go out there and test myself on this course, you can’t hide there are some hills, so it will be fun to see where everyone is at.”
Ryan Sissons is the leading Kiwi male, going in as the 13th ranked athlete from 2013. The Aucklander is keyed up for a big day after a strong 6th place in a stellar field at the Port Taranaki ITU New Plymouth World Cup but knows his first standard distance race of the season will be tough.
“It hurts for double the distance, it is going to be hard if not harder than New Plymouth, that is what we are training for and I am looking forward to it, I have been training well and I raced well in New Plymouth so hopefully that is a sign of good things to come this weekend.”
Kate McIlroy (Wellington) also raced in New Plymouth on a diet of just under 3 weeks of running as she continues her rehab after heel surgery. The Wellington triathlete is progressing well and looking for another step up in Auckland.
“The rehab since surgery has taken a long time but the last 3 weeks I have taken my fitness up another level which probably wasn’t expected, I am starting to run a bit quicker than I thought I would be, I am still a wee way off where I would like to be but New Plymouth was a good indication that things are tracking really well. This weekend I am looking for a solid race and not try to break any records or do anything crazy, just have a good run and get through the 10k pain free, run as hard as I can and hopefully end up with a good result.”
Tom Davison (Christchurch) is on debut at World Triathlon Series level and admits he is still getting asked about his wonder bike ride in January, when he finished on the podium at the NZ Road National Championships.
“It was a big day on the bike in January; so yeah, it has been a bit of an endless question ever since I guess. This bike course pretty much is perfect for me though, it is consistently hard with no real let up. This is my first World Series race, doubling as Commonwealth Games selection so I am looking to put something good out there.”
Andrea Hewitt (Christchurch) carries good form from her only two races of the summer so far, both over the sprint distance in Mooloolaba and then with a runner up finish in New Plymouth two weeks ago.
“I started with two World Cups this year instead of racing the NZ domestic season, I was happy after new Plymouth with the second place, the last two weeks I have been at home in Christchurch, really just freshening up rather than training because I trained a lot in Snow Farm and had a good January February build-up so I am feeling good going into this weekend.
“I’m looking for a good result because it’s part of the series. I really need a good result to set me up for the whole year. The commonwealth games are in July, but we’ve also got the Worl Tri Series. I’ve had 3 world championship medals but I’ve never had a win so this year I really want to focus on this as well. No holding back. It’s a tough course so I don’t think there’s much time to rest or hold back.
“I really want to do well at Commonwealth Games. The whole 8 race World Triathlon Series doesn’t fit in with the big Commonwealth Games race in July, that’s why I’m missing the two that aren’t in the right places in the world at the right time. This year I’m going to stay in New Zealand until May, which is a little bit longer than normal, just focus on racing, a couple of races in Europe before, I’m going to altitude in France before going to Glasgow.”
Nicky Samuels (Wanaka) is coming off a consistent 2013 but is always looking for improvement.
“I think you are always working on all 3 disciplines, for me though it is the run which is my weakness, I can finish in the top ten but to get in the podium level you need to step up to the next level. I have worked with Jon Brown at Tri NZ and hopefully that has improved my running.”
Martin van Barneveld (Wellington) is these days not in the Tri NZ HP Squads but is working just as hard as ever on his sport.
“I am the same as everyone else, I would like to make the Commonwealth Games team, I make no secret of that. It is definitely been different for me outside the HP squad, I was involved for so long. I didn’t perform up to their standards and criteria which was okay, I understood that, they make it very clear and easy to follow. I have prepped well for this weekend, done the best I can, planned well and if I go out and execute my processes and deliver what I have been doing in training then I am capable of a good result on Sunday.”
Racing takes place on the Sunday, with age group events including the Tri NZ National Standard Distance Championships from 7am and the elite women at midday with the elite men at 3.30pm.