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)

Santiago CC - March 17


Startlist can be found here

Taking place about 40k outside of the metropolis, Piedra Roja will host this Pan-Am Cup for its second year running.

The course features a borderline wetsuit swim in a small calm reservoir, a windy out and back false flat bike, and a hilly run. Overall the course is tough and temperatures can play a factor.

Headlining the Mens field we have Pan-Am games Champ Colucci (BRA), New flag chaser Quinchara (COL), and local favourite Vande Wyngard (CHI).

Looking over this field it would appear that a front group of about 12 should come out together with Perez (MEX) and Matos (BRA) leading the bunch. Take Perez with the leadout.

Within the first 100m of the bike there is a U-Turn into a long gradual climb. These first couple k's may offer a chance for some stronger riders to either bridge up or make a break. With a smaller field and lack of depth an early break could have potential. With a heated New Flag race in the Pan-Am region, the door is open for Vande Wyngard and Quinchara to steal some points on the others. Look for both of these players, along with Colucci, Perez and the San Diego hungry Americans, Collington and Brandon (USA) to seeking opportunities on the bike.

Into T2 I think we have a group of 10 ready for the run. As mentioned, the run is quite technical and hilly. The high athlete with good power/weight and leg strength remaining after the bike will be well suited here.

At the line I think we see:

Colucci, Pimentel (BRA), Vande Wyngard [PAN-AM]

New Flag Watch: Quinchara, Vande Wyngard
Darkhorse: Matos


Startlist can be found here

Quite unsure about this field and how things will unfold. Will keep it short.

Jang (KOR) with the swim leadout.

Podium: Grimaldo (COL), Diaz (CHI), Jang

New Flag Watch: Jang [ASIA]
Darkhorse: Anyone

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Devonport Oceania Champs - Mar 10


Startlist can be found here

Biggest ITU event of the season gets underway in Tasmania this weekend. With the winner of the Mens and Womens races earning an Olympic spot for their country this one should be quite a tactical and exhilarating affair.

It is not as easy as winning however. Each country will ideally want to have their third ranked Olympic athlete win the race. This will give them the best chance of qualifying 3 athletes to the games. However, this 3rd ranked athlete may not be fit enough to beat the other countries top athletes, there in lies the madness. If we look at it in that prespective the Aussies will be looking for Sexton or Atkinson and the kiwis for Gemmell.

A chilly wetsuit swim will get things rolling. The Aussies have the upperhand here with some strong fish likely to push the pace in Amberger and Seear. The trio of Amberger/Seear/Atkinson will look to replicate their Mooloolaba 2010 performance. Out of the water Amberger should be leading the lads into T1. I expected a break to be somewhere around the 6th athlete but it will not be much (10-15s).

The flat/tech bike may not lend well to this group staying away for very long. There could be a lot of discussion on the sidelines from TA in the first lap. McCormack (AUS) will likely dictate the chase group pace along with a host of kiwis (Davison,Gemmell,Elvery) if a break exists.

I see there being too much to lose for any sort of gap to exist off the bike to a contender here. Even if legs are spent by some, this things is coming together before the end of 40k.

Off the bike is where things get interesting. Docherty may be running the best at the moment but as mentioned, a Gemmell W would be more preferred. I think the pace on the bike should be high enough that we see the stronger athletes perform better over this 10k. We should have a solid running pack: Gemmell, Atkinson, McCormack, Docherty, Sexton, Sissons, Royle, Dodds, Ellice and others should all be out of T2 up front.

Expect Sexton to lift the pace right away to try and burn off some kiwi. He may get a gap initially but I see it being reeled in after 5k. The back half of the run will be a battle
where some experience and strength may prevail.

At the line it is quite a tough call but I have:

Gemmell, Sissons, Sexton

Darkhorse: Dodds, Royle, Ellice


Startlist can be found here

In the womens event the fight for the Olympic spot is less important. Both Aussie and Kiwi are essentially assured 3 spots for women.

The 400 ITU/Olympic points up for first though are still incentive for early season starts.

On this one the Kiwi's have the stronger swimmers. Expect Adams (NZL) to lead the women back to beach with Samuels, Tanner, and maybe Jackson in tow. We should see a gap to Gentle out of the water which with a smallish field could stick throughout the race.

Onto the bike Adam again will lead the pace with Samuels. These two have enough horsepower to get away if the others in the front swim pack aren't attentive and quick out of T2.

I do see a group of 2-4 (Adams,Samuels,Tanner,Jackson) getting away here and growing a gap to the chase. Off the bike we could see upwards of 90s.

On the run Jackson will take it out quick with Tanner and Samuels holding on by a thread. As the 10k unravels, Jackson should get away and leave Tanner and Samuels to hold on to silver and bronze. Gentle and Densham, if running very well and no more than 90s behind off the bike, could run up to contend for the podium.

I see the podium as:

Jackson, Tanner, Densham

Darkhorse: Bailie

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Clermont CC - March 3


Startlist can be found here

Strong field here again for Clermont as the first race in N.America takes off for 2012. Headliners for this field include Jones (CAN), Shoemaker (USA), Hosada (JPN), Bowden (GBR), and Kerr (AUS). For Jones and Shoemaker the tilt is going off in their backyard, an advantage for sure over international travel and athletes coming off a hard/hot race in Lima last wkd.

Unfortunately the swim for this one is not really a swim. More like a water run with 300m of kiddie pool / waterpolo tactics. Like last year swim will be a large group led by a strong swimmer with athletic entry/exit skills. Take beachboy Wilson (BAR) on this one.

With a tight, narrow bike route the pack will get strung out quite long over the 20k but should stay together with enough athletes to fill and cover any gaps that should form.

5k will decide this if not a quick and smooth T2. On the run the pace should be layed out pretty hot by Hosada. It really is a tough call for this podium but I see it as:

Nicholls (GBR), Shoemaker (USA), Jones (CAN)

Darkhorse: Yorke (CAN), VanOrt (USA)
New Flag Watch: Wilson (BAR), Quinchara (COL)[PATCO]


Startlist can be found here

Another strong field of women here for Clermont. International talent combined with strong CAN/USA athletes should make for a very exciting race.

Unlike the men's race though this one may have some seperation out of the water. McClarty and Haskins (USA) will surely look to break this field up with runners such as Jorgensen (USA), Campbell (CAN) and Ueda (JPN) to deal with.

Out of the water we could see a smallish group of 5 or 6 with the aforementioned Americans, Kaye (USA), Lang (GBR), Harrison (FRA) and a few others redlining to make this break.

McClarty will lead us up to T1 where Haskins may look to jump on with McClarty for a two-horse show to get out of town. Really there is a lot of different dynamics that could go on with this one with strong riders such as Sweetland (CAN) and Peon (FRA) perhaps dragging a few others up.

I would see this bike forming two groups initially. The front dozen or so and a larger chase of 15. But by 20k we should see a merge and a large group of women coming off at T2 for the 5k run.

Over the 5k Jorgensen should prove to be strongest while the other podium spots will be tightly contested.

Take the podium as: Jorgensen (USA), Peon (FRA), Campbell (CAN)

Darkhorse: Vodickova (CZE), Widney (CAN)
New Flag Watch: None

Salinas CC - Mar 4

Mens Startlist can be found here

The second of a South American double dip goes this Saturday in the beach town of Salinas, Ecuador. With most of the field coming off a tough race in Lima just 6 days ago the door could be open for some athletes targeting this race specifically.

Look for Gonzalez (CUB) to lead this swim out with Farias (ARG) right on his heels. With Argentina holding the PATCO New Flag Olympic spot, Farias might be issued in here for some team tactics. With his Compatriots running quite well at the moment while having weaker swims he may be looking to slow the front group up early on in the bike. Members of the group like Toft (DEN), Gonzalez, Wiltshire (GBR) will need to be assertive to keep the pace hot and rolling to fend on the trio of Tellechea, Taccone and Nogueras (ARG).

The front group initially should be about 10 players. As mentioned, some may not be willing to work at all so it could possibly be a 8 man machine. I do see this group staying away from the chase pack and rolling into T2 with a minute to 90s.

The hot and humid conditions will once again be a decider in this race. Having run well here in previous years, Alterman (ISR) may be one to watch for over the 10k.

On the podium we have:

Billington (USA), Alterman (ISR), Gonzalez (CUB)

Darkhorse: Sato (JPN)

New Flag Watch: Argentinians, Van de Wyngard, Gonzalez (CUB) [PATCO] Toft (DEN) [EURO]


Startlist can be found here

With three of the four British girls carrying over from Lima, expect the same contingent to press the field here in Salinas. Missing however is Lang (GBR) who will sorely be missed driving the bike group over the 40k. Home country athlete Bravo (ECU) will be looking to please the fans with a win here, but it will certainly be a tough task.

Lucy Hall (GBR) will once again toy with the field in this swim over 1500m. With the hot conditions she might be wise to keep the pace high enough to string it out and create gaps but keep her core temp as low as possible to start the bike.

Out of the water Hall will either have a gap or 2 to 3 athletes with depending on the effort she decides to put down. In this group should be Thorrington and Raw (GBR) with a wildcard of Youth Olympic Champ, Sato (JPN).

Whether Sato can make the front group will be key to the outcome. The chase will include Bravo and Palacio Balena (ARG). With the numbers quite low in this field that unfortunately will be it. The second chase will be larger and perhaps bridge up but be unable to catch our leaders over the 40k.

I think we see Sato make the front group and come off with the British girls for the 10k. She will then lay down the fastest run and take this race.

Podium: Sato (JPN), Raw (GBR), Hall (GBR)

Darkhorse: Jiao (CHN)
New Flag Watch: Bravo (ECU), Palacio Balena (ARG) [PATCO]

Friday, 24 February 2012

Lima CC - Feb 26


Startlist can be found here

To quote last years champ here, JVB, "I was about to ride my bike to the race when the hotel told me 'Oh no, you need to take a cab'...'' Don't worry, if you've raced in Monterrey you've been exposed to worse:)

Attention shifts to Lima for the early season points race. This field has a host of athletes fighting for the PATCO New Flag along with a strong British presence including current U23 world champ, Matt Sharp (GBR).

Late entry Ben Collins (USA) will be looking to push this swim alongside Wiltshire (GBR) and Toft (DEN). Take Harry to lead this one for the Union Jack.

These aforementioned boys should be closely followed by perhaps up to 8 others. This group will look to keep, and grow the gap to the chase which will likely contain some fast Argentinian feet. Buckingham (GBR) is a slight wild card here as his swim may be borderline to make the front group but he may be the best runner off the bike in the field. With some fasttwitch racing under his belt at Brazil FAST I think he should be good to go here.

The bike course here looks to be revamp from the fiasco of last years city circuit which contained speed bump after speed bump. The new route looks to include some hills so an honest effort on the bike should unfold. On a course such as that Harris (GBR) could be dangerous. Expect the Brits to work this bike....trickle down effect from the BBoys.

Off the bike I think we have a group of 10-12ish that will contend for the medals. Bit rich but I gotta go with a British sweep with the following on the podium:

Buckingham (GBR), Bowden (GBR), Harris (GBR)

New Flag Watch: Tellechea (ARG), Wilson (BAR), Van de Wyngard (CHI), Taccone (ARG) [PATCO] Toft (DEN) [EURO]

Wildcard: Gunby (GBR), Rendes (HUN)


Startlist can be found here

As with the Mens field, this Womens is also full of British talent. An interesting aspect to look at within the Brit Camp here is a battle between potential Jenkins domestiques. You have three athletes here who swim world class and two who can ride your legs off. Lang, Thorrington, and Hall (GBR) all will look to play their game and show selectors their strengths.

In the water, Hall has shown her swimming ability can break a part a WCS field. Here she will be playing with the field as she leads us into T1.

Lang and Thorrington will be with her or just behind while other contenders such as Raw (GBR) and Bravo (ECU) may find themselves just off the train.

On the bike Lang will drive this thing hard early on receiving some help from Thorrington. Hall will do well to hang in if she can. I feel this duo/trio will work well together and distance themselves from the chase of Raw, Bravo and Co.

Into T2 the Brits should have a comfortable lead of 90''. On the run it the heat may begin to take its toll on them for the effort exerted on the bike. I still see them holding off most of the chase with the following podium:

Lang, Thorrington, Raw [Yes, another British Sweep!]

New Flag Watch: Bravo, Palacio Balena (ARG) [PATCO]
Darkhorse: Pedersen (DEN), Zhang (CHN)

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Cape Town Sprint CC - Feb 19

Mens startlist can be found here

First African Cup goes this weekend in Cape Town doubling up as the RSA champs. A great field is assembled, deepest to be seen in Africa for some time with 16 different nations on the line.

Tim Don headlines the field having set up camp in RSA for the winter. Other pre-race favourites include: Unger (GER) fresh off a debut win in Barbados last weekend and home national Murray (RSA) who finished 2011 with a silver performance in Huatulco WC.

The swim looks to be a point to point affair and I'd assume it likely to be wetsuit legal. Some chop should be expected. With this type of field and conditions we'll likely see a fairly large group come out of the ocean with Schoeman (RSA) at the helm.

The bike is as simple as an out and back flat lap can be. Perhaps some cross winds coming off the water could mix the group up a bit here. We have a few strong riders as well in Tissink (RSA), Louw (NAM), Croes (BEL), Toft (DEN) Murray (RSA), Elvery (NZL) who may have a go at the others before the 5k.

Off the bike I think we could see a group of 3 like the aforementioned with a gap to the main group of 20-30s. Not sure if the pack would be so willing to give Murray that kind of real estate though.

On the run things will string out quickly on this technical and hilly (looks to be) course. Athletes who have addressed strength work over the winter could benefit from such a route.

At the line I feel we see the following take the hardware:
Don (GBR), Murray (RSA), Ruanova (ESP)

Darkhorse: Uccellari (ITA)
New Flag Watch: AFRICA = Louw (NAM) Felgate (ZIM) & Essadiq (MAR) // Alterman (ISR) & Croes (BEL), Toft (DEN) & Banti (MON) (EURO)


Startlist can be found here

With many European athletes making the trip down to Cape Town, this womens field has some depth to it. There are a lot of athletes from smaller Euro triathlon nations chasing the New Flag spot.

The field doesn't seem to have a standout swimmer but I'd expect the duo of friends Rabie (RSA) and Pickthall (GBR) to lead us out with De Vries (NED) and a few others.

This smallish group may be able to fend off the main group but it may depend on Frintova's (CZE) swim. If it is good then the main pack may not have the same motivation as it would be if her swim is under par.

Into T2 i see things together off the bike.

De Vries has been running well in early races. The two South Africans in the field can also run a 5k and will benefit from little travel.

I feel we see the podium as: Frintova (CZE), De Vries (NED), Fischer (RSA).

Darkhorse: Lehtonen (FIN)

New Flag Watch: Verstuyft (BEL), Lehtonen (FIN), Waldmüller (AUT) (EURO)

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Bridgetown CC - Feb 12

Mens startlist can be found here

A first for Barbados in hosting an ITU event. Great to see, and hopefully the event will become a regular addition to early season racing.

Mens field is small but has a fairly strong/even top 15 athletes. We should see I.Polyankskiy (RUS) lead this non-wetty swim out with a group with or just off his feet. In that group will be Wiltshire (GBR), making his return to racing after his suspension for unsportsmanlike behaviour.

Quickly into the bike we will see our front group, and the race, form. I think we see all the main players including Nicholls (GBR) in this group. With Nicholls recent win in Vina, the others may be looking to put pressure on him over this bike.

Into T2 as a group we should see our podium potential group form right away on the run. Nicholls I'm afraid has this one bagged unless something unforseen happens. The remaining two spots should be a dog fight with many possible scenarios.

I feel we see the podium as: Nicholls, Unger (GER), Polyanskiy

Darkhorse: Lamar (USA)
New Flag Watch: Wilson (PATCO), Gaag and Fanous (ASIA)


Womens startlist can be found here

This womens field hosts a number of athletes looking to get 2012 on track and rolling. Campbell (CAN), Brault (CAN), Sweetland (CAN), Raw (GBR), and Lisk (GER) all will be looking for the podium in this one to gain more valuable ITU points towards a start in Sydney.

Out of the water Lang (GBR) will do us the honors. On her feet should be Hinton (CAN) and perhaps one other. A small gap could be next to the main group of athletes including all the contenders.

On this bike I don't see a lot going on once Lang and co. are caught. Into T2 we should a group of about 12 get ready to sort this out over the 5k run.

Quick to the front will be Brault (CAN) coming off a PATCO win and a silver in Vina. On her heels will be a group containing Campbell, Sweetland, Shiver (USA), and Bravo (ECU).

At the line we'll see a Canadian sweep with:


Darkhorse: Wassner Twins (USA)
New Flag Watch: Bravo (PATCO)

Geelong CC - Feb 12

Mens Startlist can be found here

Aussie sprint champs doubles as a Premium Oceania Cup this weekend as part of the Geelong festival. Deepest mens field of 2012 will suit up for a what should be a smokeshow w a plethora of fast-twitch athletes.

1 loop 750m non-wetsuit, no surprises here. Journeyman Varga (SVK) once again with the lead out. Richard will be looking to form a small group like last weekend in Kinloch where he had three others join him...and then leave him. Nevertheless it appears as if he has figured out what pace to put down to get some seperation but not kill strain himself. Others looking to join him up front could include Atkinson (AUS), Royle (AUS), Seear (AUS), and Dodds (NZL). However, with the depth in this field I think we see enough athletes able to fill the gaps and have a larger group (15-20) come out of T1 together.

Most, if not all the contenders should be in this front group. We may have a few chasing early to bridge up, such as a handfull of aussies - McCormick, Featonby, Good, and Bailie (AUS). I think once this boys are in the picture the group settles down a bit with some cat and mouse here and there before T2. Perhaps Atkinson, Vidal (FRA), and/or Clarke (GBR) try something just before T2 to get a clean changeover.

This should be a fast 5k. I haven't heard how Sexton (AUS) is going right about now. A little quiter than this time last year. Expect Vidal to come out guns blazing leading the group for the first lap. Near the end of the second of three loops a few surges may arise and we'll see some athletes fall off pace.

At the line in sprint finish we see...

Podium: Vidal, Huggett, Clarke

Darkhorse: Lebrun (FRA), Featonby/Kealey/Brown (AUS)
New Flag Watch: Varga, Latin (EURO)


Womens startlist can be found here

Like the men the womens startlist hosts some big hitters looking for a kickstart to their season.

We could see a some group get away in this swim if mistakes are made in the swim. Moffatt (AUS), Adam (NZL), and Blatchford (GBR) could form a small break, looking to get away from the likes of Hewitt (NZL), Gentle (AUS) and Densham (AUS).

If successfull though this group of 3 will not be able to hold off the chase which will include all of the contenders.

Off the bike we should see Moffatt take things out hard. Gentle, Hewitt, and Densham will be there though, right up to the line.

Tight one but here is the podium:


Darkhorse: Nielsen (NZL), Bailie (AUS)

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Kinloch CC - Feb 5


Men Startlist can be found here

First Oceania Cup rolls around this weekend on the North Island. The Mens field looks to be quite level with a number of lower ranked Aussies having raced several times in this young season.

Richard Varga (SVK) seems to be a traveling business man at the moment. Racking up big big airmiles maybe is taking its toll on his swimming with lack of consistent miles and resorting to hotel kiddie pools.....Naw!!! Who am I trying to kid, Varga with the leadout.

Whether someone can stay on his feet is questionable. I see the front group being lead out about 10s back. Expect McMaster (ITU), Van der Stel (NED), Elvery/Davison/Gemmell/Franklin (NZL), and Aussies Royle,Kerr amongst others to be up near the front of the pack.

With this being only 750m and it having quite a broad spectrum of swimmers the field may stay together. Although, contenders like Baile and McCormick (AUS) could be off the back if the pace is held high enough.

Anyone not out of the water near the Kiwi horses can kiss this one goodbye. The aforementioned boys will surely lay the hammer down on this tough and technical bike. The advantage of a sprint bike is that there is rarely a lull which can allow a chase pack back in the show. Expect some surges on the main hill of this loop and a group to get away with the likes again of the trio Davison/Gemmell/Elvery and perhaps Van Berkel (NED) looking to Berkelize.

Off the bike I think a smallish group will have about 20s on the main bunch. However, this may not be enough to hold off some Aussies in with early season run fitness. Kerr, Kealey, and Huggett (AUS) will be chasing hard on this one.

This is quite a tough one to call as a lot of different scenarios could unfold. At the line I feel we see a bit of an upset.

Podium: Royle, Elvery, McCormack

Wildcard: Chronis and Kealey (AUS)

New Flag Watch: Varga (EURO)


Women startlist can be found here

Good womens field for this early Oceania race. Some solid swim/bike athletes should break things up considerably here.

Out of the water we should expect to see Adam (NZL) leading out the bunch with fellow kiwis, and a few dutch in tow.

With this tough bike look for Mcllroy/Tanner/Adam/Samuels (NZL) to drive this one early and get a gap from runners like Klamer and Caelers (NED), Haug (GER) and McShane (AUS).

Off the bike the small lead pack should have enough real estate to put this one away with a kiwi sweep.

Podium: Mcllroy, Tanner, Samuels

Wildcard: Caelers

New Flag Watch: None

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Vina Del Mar CC - Jan 22


Startlist can found here

First Continental Cup of 2012 hosts a fairly competitive field of athletes from 3 continents. All will be looking to get an early start on ITU pts.

Ocean wetsuit swim with minor chop should result in a main pack emerging together out of the water. With a wetsuit on, Varga (SVK) seems to even swim faster relative to the field as seen in Kitzbuhel and Hamburg. Leading this one out will not be a question, with Farias (ARG), and Collins (USA) on the heels. This group of 3 with perhaps a few others ( Saucedo and Meija [MEX] ) could carry a decent gap onto the bike

This small break group should be off the front for a bit but with motivated 'fresh' euros in the chase things should become conglomerated. Athletes will need to acute to hazards on the bike. Stray dogs, deraileur sucking bags, and holes will add to the randomness of a South American race.

Off the bike the field should be tight for the first lap. After 3k I think we see the euros [Fidalgo,Alarza (ESP) and Nichols (GBR)] push ahead.

Euro Sweep:

Nichols, Fidalgo, Alarza

Darkhorse:Taccone (ARG)
New Flag Watch: Varga (EURO), Vande and Quinchara (PATCO)


Startlist can be found here

Coming off a big win in La Paz to start the 2012 campaign, Brault (CAN) will be the heavy favourite to make it back to back wins on her South American Tour.

Out of the water Rivas (MEX) and Oliveria (BRA) should get a gap on the others. 30s I'd imagine will be the margin onto the bikes.

A motivated chase will swallow them up though, and the contenders will come into T2 together.

Brault should distance herself early on the run while Widney (CAN), ITU team athlete Bravo (ECU), Sato (JPN) and Rivas battle for the final podium spots.


Darkhorse:Routier (ESP)

New Flag Watch: Bravo, Palacio Balena (ARG)

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

La Paz Pan-Am Champs - Jan 15

Early start to 2012 and it comes with an important Olympic point race for Pan-American athletes. Four hundred points are on the line and a jumpstart to the season rankings. Even with the event being held in possibly the most obscure spot in the Americas we see fairly good fields for men and women. Weather for the race is somewhat unpredictable, extreme heat or this.


Startlist can be found here.

With the swim being held in a river with significant current the swim could be tactical in the sense of finding the right feed. With experience and hometown support expect Farias (ARG) to lead out of the water. The field has some solid Pan-am swim athletes. This could promote a split or perhaps not as gaps that would be there with a smaller field are being filled. I'd expect a group of 12-14 in the front with just a few contenders left out.

This group will watch its lead grow on the bike with McMahon (CAN), Chacon (CRC), Collins (USA) and Garza (MEX) leading the group through the technical course. With a comfortable gap, I dont see many games being played over the 40k, but if the four aforementioned athletes can put something together, it could be dangerous.

More than likely the run will be a scorcher. Similar to the Pan-Am Games 3 months ago I think we see a similar group of 3-4 athletes together through 5k. Being a first test for 2012 there may be some fliers that have tooken an earlier break and have a headstart on some fitness.

On the podium I think we see Grajales (MEX), Jones (CAN) and Quinchara (COL) in that order.

Wildcard: Butterfield (BER), Verzbicas (USA)


New for this year, I will have a go at the womens fields. Can't promise a whole lot but will give it my best.

In La Paz we see quite a few athletes coming back onto the scene from disappointments in 2011. It will be an important start to a race filled first half of 2012 towards Olympic qualification.

Out of the swim there is no doubt that Pan-Am bronze medalist Oliveira (BRA) will lead the race. Most likely she will be with Duffy (BER) and perhaps Rivas (MEX). A gap of about 20-30s will have formed back to the main pack of 8. Anyone not in this group will either committ suicide on the bike or be out of contention.

It will be interesting to see how the main works together to reel in Oliveira and co. at the start of the ride. If the gap isn't shut down early it wont happen later on and we could see it grow. I feel it will come back with some work and a group of 10-12 come into T2 together.

Over the 10k, smart pacing is key. I feel we see a North American sweep of the podium:

Shiver (USA), Campbell (CAN), Brault (CAN)

Wildcard: Widney (CAN)