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