Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Pan-Am Games / Puerto Vallarta - Oct. 23

startlist can be foundhere

With the winner grabbing a coveted Olympic spot for their country, this Pan-Am Championship will be a tactical affair. Canada, USA, Brazil, and Mexico will all be looking to get the win and may employ team tactics to do so.

A non-wetsuit choppy swim should help the strong swimmers seperate themselves. With a rolling chop, any gap presented can grow quite quickly. Look for Farias (ARG) or Gonzalez (CUB) to lead the guys out in T1. I feel there will be a group of 8-10 players out with a 30s gap.

This lead group will need to be aware of who is there to work and who is there to not. If Fretta (USA), Garza (MEX) and/or a Brazilian makes the pack, they likely will be there to slow the pace up to have their 'targeted countrymen' bridge up and challenge on the run for the win. It will be up to the others in the group to keep these aforementioned athletes at the back and work themselves to keep the pace hot.

The bike course does and does not suit a breakaway. There are many out and back sections not allowing the pack to get out of sight. However the route is technical which favours a smaller group. The lead pack will have strong technical riders in there as well with McMahon (CAN) likely to be leading them through the corners.

My gut tells me the packs will merge about midway through. A lot of games will then ensue with countries trying to get any edge they can into T2. I see the pack staying relatively together and this being decided on the 10k.

Coming off a strong performance in Huatulco, Chrabot (USA) has a good record at running in Mexico and its tough conditions. Canadians Jones and McMahon have also shown good run form in hot weather this season. Then you have substitute Huerta (USA) who is a major threat and could seal the deal as well. Throw in Colucci (BRA), Grajales (MEX) and Butterfield (BER) and you have a race!

A group of 10 will run the opening lap together. Then things will heat up and the group will whittle its way down to 4 by the final mile.

This is a very tough one to call but I feel Jones (CAN), after a frustrating month of September, will unleash a strong performance to take the Win followed by Chrabot (USA) and Huerta (USA).

Darkhorse: Taccone (ARG), Butterfield (BER)

Sanshui CC - Oct 23

startlist can be found here

Just a week after Tongeyong it is surprising that more athletes didn't partake in a double dip here for this Asian Cup in China. With two larger Euro Cups later this month along with Noosa Trithere is just too many options for late October!

After a strong swim performance in Tongeyong, I.Vasilev looks to be gaining his swim form back which was so dominant in '07 and '08. He will lead this one out on his own or perhaps with Davison (NZL) on his feet. This will be Davison's race if he can stick with Ivan over the 1500m. It would also be to Vasilev's gain to have Davison with him on the bike as they are both strong cyclist which could put away the rest of the field by T2.

I feel the duo will come out of the water together with perhaps one wild card in Fang (CHN). Onto the bike these motivated athletes will lay down a solid ride and distance themselves from the chase group including several Chinese athletes like Bai and Zhang along with Tsubaki (JPN).

Off the bike with as a trio with a good cushion the podium will be a done deal. Vasilev will run to the win with Fang (CHN) and Davison taking strong results in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Darkhorse: Robinson (AUS)

Friday, 14 October 2011

Tongeyong WC - Oct 15th

Startlist can be found here

Almost late for the party, but will just squeeze in. Tongeyong once again will host a WC/WCS event going back with quite a tradition with ITU racing.

Wetsuit conditions will make for a fast swim in the korean harbour. Wetsuits usually bring the group together but in years past this has not been the case in Tongeyong. A lot of the big swimmers in this field are 'power' swimmers and the wetsuit will suit their style.

Varga will be doing the 5-day double here, racing last weekend in Huatulco. Lets live dangerous and take an upset with Raphael (FRA) (coming off a stress fracture) to lead things out with a group of russians and a few others such as: Davison, Dodds and Elvery (NZL), Vanek (HUN), Louw (NAM) and Heo (KOR) in a group of 10 or so.

The 5 lap bike has had its share of breaks stick and i think again we see motivated Russians and surrounding horsepower keep a group of 10-12 away from the main group which will contain threats such as Lescure (FRA), Celustka (CZE) and Jaskolka (POL). I expect the gap to be 90'' by T2.

Onto the run the Polyansky (RUS) brothers will lead things for the first lap. Depending on how his run fitness has come along, Raphael may be able to hang with for 2.5k. From the chase I don't think we see any run onto the podium, but top 8's would certainly be a possibility.

Taking the tape should be D.Polyansky followed by younger bro Igor and wild card Heo (KOR) to steal Korea's first ever WC podium?

Darkhorse: Billington (USA), Alessandroni (ITA)

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Mombasa CC - Oct 8th

Starlist can be found here

Late season African Cups tend to not field a strong event and this race follows similar suit. Essentially this will be a 3or4-man race in Kenya.

It is races like this one where I really feel the ITU needs to adopt a better all-round performance measuring system for Point Accumulation at events. A 'Field Factor' or Handicap for each race varying on the ranking of athletes starting and finishing the event would give a more representative measure for ranking pts.

Regardless, this CC will see a podium and I feel the race will play out like this:

Out of the water we will have Fanous (JOR) and Essadiq (MAR) with Murphy (IRL) and perhaps a Belgian just off the back. Murphy will bridge solo up to these two and the lead group of 3 will roll around the ride saving their legs for the run.

After a competive 10k between these 3 I feel we see Murphy (IRL) take first with Essadiq second and Fanous third.

Darkhorse: Bader (BEL)

Myrtle Beach CC - Oct 9th

Starlist can be found here

The last race of the USAT elite series goes this weekend in South Carolina. With one of the weaker fields so far in the series, the race will still be dynamic and a exciting.

Kemper (USA) will undoubtedly be looking to have the race play out in similar fashion as the previous race in Buffalo. I feel it will play out in the same matter as long as the swim is kept strong enough. Out of the water we will see Zaferes (USA) lead out with a group or 8 or 9 in tow.

The opening stages of the bike will be hot, and hotter if Shoemaker is in the mix with Kemper. This time around I feel Shoemaker will be in the lead bunch which will make the ride a bit more tactical. Unaware of the bike profile, the 8 looper appears to a pancake variety with 1x180. This lead group of 10ish will build a lead over the chase which will hold threat Van Ort (USA).

Off the bike with 2 mins the podium will be determined from the lead pack. Kemper will cruise to the W with Shoemaker and Glushchenko (UKR) rounding out the podium.

Darkhorse: Zaferes

Huatulco WC - Oct 9th

Startlist can be found here

After a year of reprieve from 'el Jefe', the traditional hilly bike course is back for Huatulco WC. Referred to as the 'hardest WC ever' by Kris Gemmel back in '08, this race has its' most competitive field to date which will no doubt make it even more strenuous. Past Champ Matt Chrabot (USA) and 2xrunner up Ruedi Wild (SUI) headline the field along with WCS Yokohama Champ Joao Silva (POR).

Things get started with a warm salt water swim composed of a 1000m loop followed by 500m. Surf is negible and with years past the group has stayed together for the most part. This year with the 'Varga Factor' being present we may see a split and or a smaller group of 10'ish get away from the mob. If Varga (SVK) is wise he'll push it just enough to form the split and then keep it strong for the remainder. No doubt he'll be first out onto the bikes followed by other outside heat ranked athletes such as Gonzalez (CUB) and Farias (ARG).

The most interesting segment of this race will be the bike. How the intial pace plays out will be intriguing. Essentially the bike has two smaller big ring stand up climbs right out of T1 followed by a flat bumpy section, El Jefe, and then the descent/flat return to Tranny. Strong high W/kg riders will be dangerous here as shown previously by Chrabot (USA). In the back half of the bike is where we see some athletes get away here, perhaps 5 or 6 getting a gap into T2. The main group will progessively shrink throughout the ride with guys dropping off with each visit to El Jefe.

On the run we will get a view of what kind of strength the athletes have left in their legs after a speed filled summer season. The run also has some hills to it combined with tough hot/humid weather.

Across the finish i feel we see Chrabot continue his strong performances at tough event like this in 1st followed by Silva (POR) and McMahon (CAN).

Darkhorse: Baille (AUS), Uccellari (ITA)