Friday, 25 May 2012

Madrid WTS, May 26/27

Startlist can be found here

The last Olympic Quali race goes tomorrow and Sunday in the city park, Casa de Campo, of Madrid.

You have many sides to this field. There are the ones that have pre-qualified, done a large training block and racing to gauge fitness, then you have the ones near peak fitness with this race serving as an auto qualifier, and lastly the ones that have raced upwards of 10 TIMES, w a butt load of travel, chasing New Flags and 3-spot Countries. A large sigh of relief will happen for many of the athletes after Sunday, qualify or not.

If we look at the races within the race there are 7 to choose from:

- New Flags (Pan-Am, Africa, Asia, Euro)
- 3 Spot Countries
- Federation Selections (Auto and Discretionary)
- Tail end Olympic Rank spots

First lets start off w a general race prediction....

What makes Madrid a dynamic race on the bike is not the hill itself, more the immediate placement of it just 30s out of T1. It is the ability to tranisition from swim to bike cleanly and produce a very high W/kg for the first 4-5 minutes. This is what makes it so tough and this is what has seperated the field for the last 3 years.

With the absence of Gomez and A.Brownlee the potential for this scenario to unfold yet again takes a hit. Nontheless it will still happen. J.Brownlee will make sure of that along with the Russians and perhaps someone like Royle (AUS) and Raphael (FRA). This time around though I expect the group to be a little larger, 15 or so.

Lead out by Varga (SVK), Brownlee (GBR) will assault the first climb. Stringing it out, some will fall off. Initially we'll see the Brownlee group be 4 or so, while a group of 10 driven by the likes of Hauss and Vidal (FRA) should bridge up on the false flat if not there then on the descent.

The chase will be large, with 20-30 in it. That group will be interesting to watch. Many will attack on the second climb in attempt to bridge the 30s gap after lap 1. Riders like Butterfield (BER), Rana (ESP), Alarza (ESP), Clarke (GBR) w great W/kg could make it if fully committed.

By the time T2 rolls around I think we see the gap at 75-80''. Run threats such as Justus (GER), Sexton (AUS), Don (GBR) will unfortunately be nullified with this type of headstart.

The run on this one may be more interesting than first thought. Conditions are expected to high twenties w humidity. Brownlee may do too much work on the bike, not an issue in previous races, but in this one it may raise his core temp enough to slow him down over the 10k. If a runner in that front group plays it smart enough, say Polyansky (RUS) or Hauss (FRA), then we could have a closer run than expected.

Podium: Hauss, Brownlee, Polyansky
Darkhorse: Alarza (podium potential)

Now on to the good stuff....

First the New Flags:


The most competitive race here, with the most players is the Pan-Am flag:

Tellechea (ARG) 1673
Quinchara (COL) 1381
Van de Wyngard (CHI) 1183
Taccone (ARG) 1116
Wilson (BAR) 989

Tellechea has a firm grasp on this one, but he is also within 150pts of grabbing an Olympic List spot. Cudos to him or his Federation for not taking the easy road to the games. If Tellechea does well enough, top 22, then the flag will roll down to Quinchara who is also within 250pts of own spot, top 15. With each athlete racing for the best possible finish we may see the flag roll down two spots where it would become a battle bw Van de Wyngard and Wilson. This swimmers+hilly course suits Wilson better. Anything could happen in this one.



Felgate (ZIM) 989
Essadiq (MAR) 805

With Felgate not racing this weekend the ball is in Essadiq's court. He needs a top 19 finish to steal the spot. I dont see it happening unfortunately.


A two horse race again with the possibility of 3 if Ho Heo (KOR) somehow loses his list spot.

Bai (CHN) 1119
Gagg (KAZ) 1072

Bai had the chance to close this one out on home soil last weekend but botched a front pack swim/bike with an uncharacteristic 37' 10k to finish outside of the points. Will he redeem here? I think yes, sorry Gagg no second chances.


Closest race of all the flags.

Varga (SVK) 806
Toft (DEN) 789
Alterman (ISR) 762
Rendes (HUN) 741 (maxed out w lowest throw away at 29pts)

At the moment all are in the race except Toft, 2 or 3 on waitlist. Whether or not Toft gets into the event I see Varga hanging on to this one with a certain front pack advantage barring he doesn't detonate on the 10k.

3 Spot Countries

Canada vs. Portugal Cage Match

After San Diego the 3 spot Country race looked to be Aus/Can/Por. With the decision for Atkinson (AUS) and Whitfield (CAN) not to race, this takes Australia out of the equation and leaves Canada and Portugal to duke it out. More specifically it is McMahon (CAN) vs. Pereira (POR) w Pais (POR) on the side. All three will race. A third Portugese is 1-2 on the wait list, Marques (POR) who could add a team role to Portugal's contingency. McMahon will be without teammates, but as an all-rounder athlete this should not impact his result.

McMahon has been the most consistent of the players with as strong a second-half of qualifying as many top 20 Olympic listers. McMahon leads the head to head 5-3 over the last two seasons.

The following graph will help display a clear picture of what can unfold on Sunday:

If Pereira finishes top 14 then the game is over. Even if McMahon were to win the race, Pereira trumps Whitfield and Portugal has 3 spots. If Pereira finishes within 14-22 then McMahon must beat him. If Pereira does not finish in top 22 then Canada has 3 spots. Seems pretty simple, we shall see.

Olympic Rank Spots

Athletes near the tail end of Olympic Rank Listings with a current spot may see some shifting:

Noble (IRL) 1578
Uccellari (ITA) 1542
Butterfield (BER) 1509
Giglmayr (AUT) 1457
Ho Heo (KOR) 1482
Garza (MEX) 1378
Croes (BEL) 1279
Tellecha (ARG) 1231
Wolfaardt (RSA) 1164
Quinchara (COL) 1128

Of the boys that have spots, all are racing except Giglmayr and Garza. The ones racing should have no problem keeping their spots. The ones not racing run the risk of losing their spots with a good performance out of the chasers.

Croes - top 28
Tellecha - top 22
Wolfaardt - top 17
Quinchara - top 15

If more than one of these are made then it becomes a matter of how many spots better than that they can achieve. I see Croes just making the cut as long as he has a decent swim to make the chase. Tellecha is a wildcard as with his run he could certainly make a top 22 if off the bike in the chase. Anything can happen in an ITU race but I fear the other players may face too difficult a task.

Federation Selections

Unsure of all the selections going down this weekend, I believe the following hold true:

Germany - First accross the line
Great Britain - Podium
France - ?
Spain - ?

I think that is all, this may have been the last ITURaces post, that is unless I start getting paid:)

Friday, 18 May 2012

Jiayuguan CC - May 19, 2012

Startlist can be found here

The implications of this often minor Asian Cup on the Olympic Games are significant. Significant enough to jumpstart the heart of ITURaces back for one last hurrah.

What we have here is a close Euro New Flag race between 3 players. Leading the chase is Alterman (ISR) who was a last minute addition to this race after a no-point showing in San Diego WTS. Less than 9pts behind we have Varga (SVK), the gamechanger for London should he earn the start. The outside horse in the race and also entered in this Chinese Asian Cup is Toft (DEN).

The 'Varga Factor' could play an important role in the Mens Olympic race. Providing a tow in the water for the brownlees,gomez and Russians will leave fuel in the bank come the opening stages of the bike. Athlone Euro's 2010 was a case in point example where the 'Varga Factor' played out to a T. Whether this sort of scenario could get away in the Games has yet to be seen, but with a smaller field and wider variance in ability, gaps are more likely to form.

We also have another new flag race in occuring here in the Asian flag. Bai (CHN) holds a slim lead of 50pts over veteran Gaag (KAZ). With this being the last qualifying race, it holds all the marbles for this spot. With close to 30 Chinese teammates in this one, Bai has a significant home filed advantage over the solo Kazak.

So, preamble aside lets get to the race! Alterman's last minute inclusion has dealt him quite an obstacle for the swim. With accordance to ITU rules he will be seeded last in the field and thus have last choice of pontoon position. He will literally have to scale the 'Great Wall of China' to get accross to the Varga train. Being such a stand out swimmer Varga will need to be aware in the swim as to who he has with him. Ideally he would like to see Toft, Shaw(IRL), Fisher(AUS) and a few Chinese in the group. A pack of 6 onto the bike would be lights out. I see Varga leading the swim out with the following companions.....Xu(CHN), Shaw, Toft, Fisher, and perhaps Rendes (HUN). Onto the bike we will see these members get away. At 1500m altitude will have an effect here and we could see the group shrink. Expect to see Toft, Shaw, and Varga killing it at the front to establish this break.

Off the bike this group will want 2minutes on the chase which should include runners like Bai and Gaag. This will happen as Bai's and all of China's focus is only on Gaag. Over the 10k I think we see Fisher take control early with Varga holding on but a bit outside his comfort zone. The back half of the run we will see Fisher pull away for the win with Varga taking silver and Shaw third.

The Asian battle will also ensue over the 10k. I feel Bai should hold onto this one and even stretch the lead a bit with a win over Gaag here. The second place will be enough for Varga to claim the new flag going into Madrid. Whether or not he keeps it will depend on the Alterman, who has a start, result here and there.

Podium: Fisher, Varga, Shaw
Darkhorse: Xu
New Flag: self explanatory

Friday, 23 March 2012

Mooloolaba WC - Mar 24/25


Startlist can be found here

As Atkinson just mentioned in the press conference, this is the deepest Mooloolaba race ever. Surprising, a lot of pre-qualified Olympic athletes will race alongside a whole wack of others looking to impress selectors. With 8 of the top 10 within the top 20 ITU pts rankings this race will offer a extra 80 pts, 580, for the winner.

The easy pick out of the water is Varga (SVK), next is Seear (AUS), but with the surf and luck of wave catching lets go Hauss (FRA) to lead out.

The last three years we have seen a break in this race. Two of the three have been right out of T2 with Seear and Atkinson (AUS) being familar faces there. Expect Seear to lay out the same blueprint this time around over this hilly bike. Atkinson's swim doesn't seem to be at that same level in years past to accompany Jimmy this time around, look for a McMahon (CAN), Petzold (GER), Hayes (GBR) and/or Collins (USA) to join early.

As the bike unfolds there will be three important groups. Our lead, smallish bunch, main group and chase. The main group will house most of the favourites while the chase will contain some strong ride/runners looking to bridge. The main will need to stay motivated to hold off athletes like Butterfield (BER), McCormack (AUS), Nicholls (GBR) and some Argentians.
I see the main group holding off the chase all be it but a few strong riders who jump accross and bringing back the break by 20k. Too many points and countries chasing 3 spots to have a gap off the bike.

Again with the hills on the run, a suitable race for athletes with a collection of strength-endurance miles over the winter.

Quite a tough call here, i'm going with the top ranked 3 in that order:

Hauss, Vidal, Kahlefeldt

New Flag Watch: Tellechea, Taccone, Butterfield [PATCO] Van Berkel, Jaskolka, Varga [EURO] Heo [ASIA]

Darkhorses: Nicholls (GBR), Van Ort (USA), Box (AUS)


Startlist can be found here

Like the men, the womens race is laiden with pedigree so early in the season. Headlining the field is world #2 Hewitt along with fan fav Moffatt (AUS).

Moffatt has a good hold on this swim course as years previous have shown. Bennett (USA) also does well in these conditions and could challenge Moffy for the leadout along with Lang (GBR). Take the experience in Moffatt to lead out and gap the field on the beach run to the bikes.

Moffatt, with nothing to lose in this race will drill the bike early. I see a small group forming around her of strong riders able to tranny well and hold high 3' power. Names likely to be amongst this bunch include Hewitt, Bennett, Lang, Mcllory (NZL), Oliveira (BRA) and Blatchford (GBR).

I think its lights out for the podium if this happens. Although never count out a motivated Swiss duo of Spirig/Ryf looking for 3 country spots and Norden (SWE) to lead the chase up. A gamble but i see the break sticking and holding 45'' into T2.

Out onto the run things will seperate in the front group quickly with Hewitt, Mcllory and Moffatt leading away.

Over the hills I see the two kiwis slowly pulling away from Moffatt.

Podium as: Hewitt, Mcllory, Moffatt

New flag watch: Palacio Balena [PATCO] Fintova, Czesnik, Simic [EURO]
Darkhorse: Klamer (NED), Campbell (CAN)

Mooloolaba CC - Mar 25


Startlist can be found here

Not to be overlooked by the World Cup, Mooloolaba Conti should also be an interesting tilt with a lot of young Oceania talent looking to dance in front of the large crowds.

A different course for the CC with just a one lap 1500m swim. With some surf and current the swimmers such as Van de Stel (NED), Kerr, Walkington and Kealey (AUS) and Rawles (NZL) will look for a break. Take Kerr to lead things out with stronger beach skills than Van de Stel.

This group should be joined by others, but expected it to be strung out. Gaps and breaks in the chain are likely to occur as the bike route is an out and back 40k. No U-turns etc to slow the group up. On the bike, look for Davison (NZL) to either be leading the front group or quickly bridging up out of tranny taking whoever can hang onto his wheel that offers a miniscule draft. Over the 40k things shouldn't bunch up. Expect a group of max 15 to enter T2 with an ample lead. Running threats Featonby (AUS) may be hard pressed to make the group while Brown may also be borderline.

Off the bikes Kerr and Kealey will take the pace out. A group of runners will form behind them that fight for bronze.

Podium looks like: Kealey, Kerr, Brown

New Flag Watch: None
Darkhorse: Lebrun (FRA), Wangel (SWE)


Startlist can be found here

A young field for the womens event with rising talent. Juniour World Champ Nielsen (NZL) makes her Olympic debut along with a host of others. Canadians Hooper and Pennock coming off good winter camps will certainly be in the mix.

Out of the waters Seear (AUS) and Holmertz (SWE) should lead us to the bikes, but with a longer beach run someone like Pennock could lead out of T1.

Over the bike some of the juniour step ups may find the 40k a different dragon. Not quite sure how this one will unfold. I'll go with a small group of 2-3 off the front with the main pack being 1' behind into T2.

Our break group will be caught on this run. Nielsen and Pennock should lead the chase and likely catch before 5k.

Look for the podium as: Pennock, Nielsen, Hooper

New Flag Watch: none
Darkhorse: Holmertz

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Ixtapa CC - Mar 24


Startlist can be found here

Taking place earlier in the season, Ixtapa will host a Conti Cup this weekend for what has been a rich history of racing here. Weather shouldn't be any cooler however, 35C with high humidity will greet the atheltes when they start the run.

The list in chock full of Mexicans with Grajales and Serrano of mention. Zaferes (USA) and McCartney (CAN) as the gringos presesnt threats starting in the water and perhaps ending on the podium.

Ocean swim for this one can have some chop and current to it so a tactical sense is required. 2 loops, staying in the water will favour the swimmers here and look for Zaferes to lead us on to the beach with McCartney right at his feet. These two may likely have a gap on the field of 20-30s. The chase should include all the major Mexican players along with Oskutis (USA) and Phillips (CAN). With the T1 run being quite long over sand and pavement, 2+ minutes, it is important to stay in contact with the group. Otherwise it could be a lonely 40k ride.

Just 2 laps over this hilly bike course. The route offers the Zaferes/McCartney combo to get out of sight more easily. It will be interesting to see whether the Mexican contingent is motivated to bring the duo back or content to fight with eachother. Athletes like Serrano, Saucedo and Oskutis may look to jump across the gap. I see the Northern allie combo working out, coming off with 1' lead over the chase.

The major question starting the run will be whether or not Zaferes/McCartney have cooked themselves out front. They will have the luxury of starting the run at a more reasonable pacing than the chasers, but all will be revealed over the first lap.

Chasing hard, Grajales, Meija, and perhaps youngster Oliveros will look to close the gap. Keen attention to cooling and hydration are critical here.

In a battle I see the podium as:

Zaferes, Grajales, McCartney

Darkhorse: Nunez (MEX)
New Flag Watch: none


Startlist can be found here

Out of the water look for Rivas and Perez (MEX) to lead a group of about 8 women to the bikes.

Over the hilly ride I don't see a split or break occuring but the weaker riders will certainly gas their legs more than needed.

Onto the run Vodickova (CZE) should be up front with Rivas and Shapiro (USA) duking this one out for the medals.

I like the podium as: Vodickova, Shaprio, Rivas

New Flag Watch: Vodickova [EURO]
Darkhorse:Diaz (MEX)

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Valparaiso CC - March 25


Starlist can be found here

Similar cast to last weeks race in Santiago, Valparaiso will offer a great opportunity for some athletes to score valuable points. Coming in as the #1 seed, Vande Wyngard (CHI) would love nothing more than to be the first Chilean male to win on home soil and garner 200 ITU points towards the heated PATCO new flag race. Watching him carefully though will be Quinchara (COL) who finds himself in a similar situation. Americans Collington and Brandon had successful races last weekend and will look to build from it with podium performances in effort to make the San Diego Trials startlist. Other notables include Perez (MEX) showing strong early season form and a rested Glushchenko (UKR) who could steal the win with fresher legs.

With a choppy wetsuit ocean swim, the opportunity for a swim break here is high. Perez, Collington and Brandon could use the swim conditions to their advantage and get away from the five other contenders. Look for Perez with the leadout.

The bike course is challenging. Windy with a long 3-4% climb each lap. The aforementioned 3 athletes may be hard pressed to hold off the chasers. I see the front group becoming a group of 8 or so by the time of T2.

With the run route following a similar plan to the bike, tactical running will come into affect. Out of transition the athletes will run into a headwind for about 1km. U-turn with a tailwind back to tranny and then a 500m'ish climb to a U-turn before descending back for the next lap. With the finish line occuring at the bottom of the hill with an extended section on grass, a sprint finish will be very very fast here. Athletes with strong hill skills, both climbing and descending, will be rewarded here.

In a close one i see the finish as:

Collington (USA), Perez (MEX), Glushchenko (UKR)

Darkhorse: Chavez (COL)

New Flag Watch: Vande Wyngard & Quinchara [PATCO]


Startlist can be found here

Coming off a solo effort win last weekend in Santiago, Cardinale Villalobos (CRC) will be looking for much of the same here. Preventing here from this feat will be Jang (KOR), Waldmuller (AUT) and Tastets (CHI) among others.

Out of the water, Cardinale will lead things up to the bikes. A small group of 3 or 4 will essentially put the race away early on the bike and begin the run together.

On the podium I see it as:

Cardinale, Waldmuller, Escudero, Jang

Darkhorse: Tastets

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Port Elizabeth CC - March 18


Startlist can be found here

Not quite as competitive as Cape Town some weeks ago but a fairly decent field will assemble this weekend for the second African cup of this young season. The race will double as the RSA National Champs.

In the water we will likely see a break. I will go with Schoeman (RSA) and Belaubre (FRA) and Louw (NAM) getting a gap from the field. Schoeman will lead this trio into T1 and out on the bikes.

The chase out of T1 should be about 12-15 athletes. With some strong riders there will the horsepower to reel in the break, however with it being a national championship there may be some cat/mouse games that could harm the group.

With the numbers clearly favouring the chase though, expect the catch to happen and we will have one large group coming into T2.

Coming off a strong performance in Cape Town and whole South African Season, expect much the same with Murray and Wolfaardt (RSA) battling it out on the run. With some impressive speed on the track this winter and a World Cup win late 2011 season, Diemunsch (FRA) will also be a strong threat by the tape.

I like it as:

Murray, Diemunsch, Wolfaardt

New Flag Watch: Louw, Essadiq, Felgate [AFRICA]
Darkhorse: Ruanova (ESP)


Startlist can be found here

Pretty good womens field for this one as well. Great to see so many RSA women, fastest developing tri Nation I reckon.

Rabie (RSA) should lead us out of the water alongside countrywomen Van Der Merwe (RSA). Other notables up front will be the Chinese women, Fischer and Roberts (RSA), and Euros Verstuyft (BEL), Fladung (GER), and Lehtonen (FIN).

Over the course of the bike things should stay relatively calm with this group and a few others rolling into T2 together. The only potential break could come from Rabie and Roberts looking for some time on Fischer and Fladung before the 10k.

After all is said and done I have the podium as:

Fladung, Fischer, Roberts

New Flag Watch: Zhang, Wang [ASIA], St Louis [AFRICA], Verstuyft, Lehtonen [EURO]

Darkhorse: Van Der Merwe (RSA)