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.
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:)