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