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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
New Flag: self explanatory