ITU triathlon returns to Hamburg for the 10th year in a row this year, as a host of London-bound athletes get ready for a fast and furious sprint in their final pre-games preparation. However, it’s not all about Olympic fever, as this race marks the second half of this year’s WTS series, with only Stockholm, Yokohama and the Auckland Grand Final to come, the battle for world title points is starting to get serious. Hamburg has hosted a World Cup event since 2002, and the ITU World Championships in 2007, before coming on board in the first year of the ITU World Triathlon Series in 2009.
Elite Women’s Preview
Ireland’s Aileen Morrison will wear No.1 in Hamburg and the second largest city in Germany already has happy memories, it was where she claimed her first WTS medal back in 2010. Now fresh from a silver medal in Madrid, Morrison is gunning for her first WTS series win and with it, could jump to second overall in the overall rankings. But there are a host of other contenders who are also aiming for that breakthrough WTS win, including Anne Haug (GER), Rachel Klamer (NED), Emma Jackson (AUS) and Ashleigh Gentle (AUS)..
Haug has been in stellar form this year, with two seventh place finishes in Sydney and San Diego before a sprint to the line in Madrid saw her clinch fourth place and seal her Olympic spot. The same goes for Klamer, who finished fifth in Mooloolaba and Madrid. Gentle has finished 10th in each WTS race so far this year, as well as collected a bronze medal in Banyoles and her second ITU World Cup win last weekend in Tiszaujvaros. Jackson will be looking for form ahead of London, and Hamburg is where she claimed her first series medal last year as part of the historic all Aussie, all Emma sweep. Jackson also has form over the sprint distance, she claimed silver in the sprint world titles in Lausanne last year.
Emma Moffatt, who topped the Hamburg podium last year, and Erin Densham are also on the start list and can’t be discounted. In particular Densham already has two wins and two medals on the board in WTS and World Cup racing this year, and has been a threat every time she toes the startline.
Others to watch include soon to be Olympians Kate McIlroy (NZL), Nicky Samuels (NZL), Sarah Groff (USA), Annamaria Mazzetti (ITA) and four-time Olympian Anja Dittmer (GER), who is always in contention, especially at home.
Elite Men’s Preview
Russia’s Alexander Bryukhankov and Dmitry Polyanskiy will wear the No.1 and No.2 in this race respectively, and just like in the women’s, it could finally be a chance for either to step on top of the podium. Bryukhankov currently has six series medals, five silver and one bronze, and is the most successful man in series history yet to win a race. Polyanksiy has seven top-5 results in series history, but again, is yet to take a title. The Russian men also currently lead the rankings while Bryukhankov will hold the No.1 spot no matter what happens, another podium result could see them take an impressive lead into the final three races, Stockholm, Yokohama and the Auckland Grand Final.
Those trying to stop the Russian 1-2 include Switzerland’s Sven Riederer, who has already collected five series medals but not a series win, South Africa’s Richard Murray, who lead the world rankings after San Diego, this year’s Sydney winner Steffen Justus and two-time ITU World Champion Javier Gomez. Gomez is always dangerous. He claimed silver at last year’s sprint world titles in Lausanne.
Others to watch include Beijing Olympic gold medallist Jan Frodeno, New Zealand’s Olympic team of Ryan Sissons, Kris Gemmell and Bevan Docherty, Italy’s Davide Uccellari and Alessandro Fabian. Also expect Lukas Verzbicas to contend, after posting a sub 15-minute run split in last weekend’s Tiszaujvaros semifinals.
While also keep an eye on the Australian team of Brendan Sexton, Courtney Atkinson and particulary Brad Kahlefeldt. Kahlefeldt spent a stint in San Diego hospital after being diagnosed with pneumonia, but is now firing fit ahead of London and loves Hamburg. He claimed his first World Cup medal in the German city back in 2003, and took three more podium places – including bronze in the 2007 ITU World Championships, before finally claiming his first WTS win in the city in 2011.
The 2012 Dextro Energy Triathlon Hamburg gets underway when the elite men’s race starts at 6:25pm on Saturday 21 July, followed by the women’s race at 4pm on Sunday 22 July.