Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Pretoria CC - Nov 27th

start list can be found here

A similar cast here in Pretoria as last weekend in Troutbeck with some key additions who will make this a better all round race. Although not quite as high as Troutbeck, Pretoria is still at about 4200ft so heavy breathing will still remain a factor.

The course looks to be a 2lap lake swim (no wetsuit?), 2 lap hilly bike and the usual 4 lapper run.

Wolfaardt (RSA) will be deemed the favourite for this one, coming off a win last week in the aforementioned Troutbeck African Cup. However, as suggested, some additions to the field in this race will make things a bit spicier for the Wolfman.

Out of the water this one will be led out by fishy youngster Schoeman (RSA). Louw (NIM) will do well to catch Schoeman's feet early and just follow the bubbles. I see this group of two getting a gap on the chase pack which will be lead by De Falbaire (MRI). The chase will likely include Wolfarrdt, Felgate (ZIM), Pocsia and Fecskovics(HUN), and Blignaut and Naude (RSA). Guys who don't make this group are in for a long day I'm afraid.

With the bike being just 2 laps and featuring a significant climb, Louw has the opportunity to solo this bike. No joke. The real deal as showcased in Lausanne Sprint Champs where he shared a lot of work with the BBoys up front. I say Schoeman drops off back to the chase and Louw solo's to a 90' lead off the bike.

Now, here is where things get interesting. It seems with each Senior race Louw's 10k has been getting stronger. From the chase, Fecskovics, Felgate, and Wolfaardt will have the best run legs. Edge to Fecskovics with not having raced 7 days ago.

I feel Louw holds on for the Win stuffing it to the pack while Fecskovics takes silver and Wolfaardt the bronze.

Darkhorse: Pocsai (HUN)

Can't wait for ITU to get results checking here

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Troutbeck CC - Nov 19th

Startlist can be found here

The start of the late season African Cherry Picks starts this weekend with Troutbeck. At over 6000ft. Troutbeck will serve up some serious altitude to the startlist of 9 men.

Should be a simple race. De Falbaire (MRI) should lead out the swim with Wolfaardt (RSA), Felgate (ZIM) [may not start to sickness] and perhaps Naude (RSA). The chase will be headed by Jefferson (USA) and Nour (EGY).

The leaders will not want to mess around too much on the bike as Jefferson is the best runner in the field.

Gap off the bikes might be 60-80s.

Podium looks like: Wolfaardt 1st, Jefferson 2nd, Felgate 3rd [if starts] / De Falbaire else.

Darkhorse: Nour (EGY)

Auckland WC - Nov 20th

Startlist can be found here

Auckland will host the final World Cup of 2011 on the North island this Sunday. The host country will boast 11 athletes on the line in hopes of pleasing what should be a large local crowd with a win.

Wetsuit harbour swim should bring the lads back to shore in a large group. Varga (SVK) with the lead out unless a spirited kiwi such as McNeice or Elvery (NZL) has intentions to get the party started early.

What has been deemed a proper bike loop should test the legs for strength and power on the 8 lap circuit. Again, expect a few all-blacks to take a crack at something. Davison, Elvery, Gemmel (NZL) will all be on the lookout for a break. Judging by the length of the longest hill (500m), you are looking at a 80s interval or so. That is enough to cause some seperation in a large group. I see some shrapnel coming off the group into the later stages of the ride and the group coming into T2 as 20 or so.

With regards to late season form there seems to be some variance. Vidal (FRA) looks to holding good, Docherty (NZL) has not raced since a Yokohama DNF, and Rana (ESP) has been racing everything in sight with consistent mid-form. Hugget (AUS) makes his return to racing after a injury filled season, and Sissons (NZL) seems to have already taken the break and now building back towards 2012.

That being said i feel we still a lot of the familar faces towards the front of the run. I feel we see Sissons take his first major win sending the crowd into a frenzy with Docherty just behind in 2nd and Shoemaker having his best result this season with 3rd.

Darkhorse: Fisher (AUS)

New Flag Watch:
Asia: Heo (KOR) vs. Gagg (KAZ) , Europe: Banti (MON) vs. Stojanovic (SRB), Pan-Am: Butterfield (BER), Africa: Essadiq (MAR)

Panama CC - Nov 20th

Startlist can be found here

A very scenic course near Panama City offers up a late season Pan-Am Cup. A late season race like this can be hit or miss with performances as some athletes have extended their race schedule too long while others may be just reaching form from earlier injuries. It will also mark the return of Victor Plata (USA) to ITU racing, veteran amongst vets, and the emergence of Leo Chacon's little bro, Rafael, to senior racing.

On this card there does not seem to be a standout swimmer. The non-wetsuit ocean swim should be pushed by Lamar and Lutz (USA), Lobo (VEN) and Cuevas (DOM) if he has regained some of his previous form. These quartet may have a bit of a gap coming out of the water and onto the bikes. Add on a few bridgers, such as Arias (COL) and Perez and Fischer (VEN), and you have a threat on this bike.

The 2 lap rolling bike course could offer the advantage to the lead group of 'out of site out of mind'. Any sort of chase group in this race I feel will be underpowered and unmotivated to close.

Off the bikes in T2 Arias will take out the pace with Lobo and Lamar in tail.

Arias should have no issues taking this win with Lobo taking silver and Perez third.

Darkhorse: Plata (USA)

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Agadir CC - Nov 12th

Startlist can be found here

Looking like the most competitive African Cup for 2011, the Central coastal town of Agadir will host what looks like a French National Team training session.

In what should be a choppy ocean swim in borderline wetsuit temps, we should see Luis (FRA) lead the Frenchmen plus Morroccan native Essadiq (MAR) plus perhaps Rank (GER). Luis and Raphael (FRA) will combo to push the swim pace to try and rid the group of Rank (4th Hamburg WCS) who serves the best chance of spoiling a French podium sweep. Prediction is he will not make the pack.

Luis first out of the water will lead the tight group onto the hilly 2-lap bike. Here we could see perhaps Moulai (FRA) try something, but with all of the lead athletes so highly skilled, a break will be hard to come by.

In and out of T2 we should see Luis (FRA), who should great footspeed in the Relay Champs of Lausanne this August, take things out hard. Vidal (FRA), Hauss, and Moulai should all remain in contact with Raphael falling off pace just a bit. Being a 2 lap run will make it a bit tougher to pace I think with less reference points. Moulai and Luis could fall off the front next as the group closing in on 8k.

In two close finishes for first and third I feel we see Vidal take 1st, Hauss 2nd and Luis 3rd.

Darkhorse: Raphael

Friday, 4 November 2011

Startlist can be found here

Making an exception with this one. Not draft legal but looks to be a good field on a very tough course. Almost 10,000ft of climbing for the 100k bike + 30k run combo....can you say glutes?

Little unsure of how these races typically unfold, but I would feel a smallish group of 4 getting out of the water together of Poulat (FRA) leading Sudrie (FRA), M.Raelert (GER) and Dellow (AUS) with perhaps Gambles (AUS) and Blanchart (ESP) just off the back of it.

The front 4 will set the tempo as the ride begins. It being hilly will lend itself to the chasers as the lead groups rhythm will be broken up and not as organized. Rapp (USA), Cigana (ITA), and Jensen (DEN) will be the big movers on the bike, perhaps bringing a few others along as well.

With such a tough, strongmans ride, I feel Rapp and Jensen along with the two Frenchies could find themselves up on the others by T2.

While Raelert is the best runner on paper, his 2 consecutive 70.3 races leading into this will hold some heaviness in the legs over the 30k. Blanchart, euro LD champ, could look to have a strong run.

Sudrie looks too strong here on this course and I see him winning his second world LD title. Rapp taking silver and Raelert bronze.

Darkhorse: Loy (FRA)

Guatape WC - Nov 6th

Startlist can be found here

First World played at Altitude since the early 90's?? Looks like it. Last couple ITU events I can think of at altitude were Longmont CC in 2007 and 2008 Schliersee CC. The athletes have had many different strategies to hit this one (arrive early/late, train high/higher), perhaps the ones with the most experience with altitude will be better suited to perform their best on the day.

The course will be a non-wetsuit swim to the sounds of it in a dam induced lake. The cycle is 4 laps essentially climbing out to the turn-around and descending back to transition. The run I have heard has a few hills in it as well. With an earlier start the temp should be comfortable.

Perhaps one of the more interesting aspects to this race is the return of Andy Potts. Still on the startlist, it appears he is toeing the line.

With a near full startlist, and a lot of solid but not stand out swimmers, things should stay together with the exception of a few flyers off the front like Varga (SVK), Farias (ARG), Gonzalez (CUB) and Potts (USA). Varga for the leadout welcoming Potts back with bubbles to chase. If there is a gap out of the lake expect it to be swallowed up quickly on the bike.

With it being a hilly ride at elevation expect things to split up on this one. I anticipate riders like Butterfield (BER,pending decent swim), Home boy Quinchara (COL), Gemmell (NZL), Chacon (CRC), McMahon (CAN), Chrabot (USA) making efforts to stir the group on the climbs out of transition. I feel a group of 8'ish could ride away putting the podium out of reach.

Into T2 the break should contain 3 medal contenders. From the chase, the likes of Perez (ESP), Diemunsch (FRA), Shoemaker (USA) will be looking to pick their way forward.

It's a tougher call with the added variables but here are picks:

1. Gemmell 2. Moulai 3. Chrabot

Darkhorse: Fidalgo (ESP), Quinchara (COL)

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Alanya CC - Nov 2

Startlist can be found here

Strange date for this one being mid-week. In years past i've heard this race is a strange format as well with a ferry taking you to an island and then swim back to land to T1. It looks like the race changed in 2010 to a standard 2 lap swim though as the event was bidding for Euros. It won and will be 2013 Europeans.

I'm excited for this swim I must say. Perhaps more stoked than any other race to date. Raoul Shaw (FRA) will make his ITU debut. Who is he? He has led out every French GP I've seen and been known to even put time into Richard Varga. That was over 750m, here he has double that real estate. So no doubt he will lead it out....with perhaps Vasiliev (RUS) if Shaw chooses to have some company to start the bike.

The main group, essentially a Eastern Euro training session, will be about a dozen. Sapunov (UKR) and Malyshev (RUS) should be a fair amount of regular work to bring them up to our 2 leaders before T2.

Onto the run with all major contenders in tact Vasiliev and Martynenko (UKR) are both hot having won races in the past two weeks. Having not finished a race since Kitzbuhel WCS it is hard to gauge what type of fitness Unger (GER) has, but you can never count the '08 World Champ out. Throw in some more solid veterans like Tutukin and Sysoev (RUS), Syutkin (UKR), and Rouault (FRA, unsure of start) and you have a solid run to unfold. Through the first 5k we should see a group of 5 or 6 running together. The eastern bloc rivals will be sure to leave the tanks empty as they battle over the closing lap.

A toss up, but I'll go with Meshcheryakov (RUS) showing us some of the 2010 World Cup winning form followed by Martynenko (UKR) and Malyshev of Russia.

Darkhorse: Tsvetkov (UKR)