ITU athletes get ready to Rio 2016 at the WTS Stockholm this weekend
by Chelsea White/ITU
The World Triathlon Series continues this weekend at the 2016 Vettenfall World Triathlon Stockholm with a stacked women’s start list. Top ranked Flora Duffy and Jodie Stimpson lead the contingency that will race on the infamous cobblestone streets of the Swedish capital over a two-lap swim, eight-lap bike and four-lap run course this Saturday.
For the second WTS race in a row, Bermuda’s Flora Duffy will wear the golden number 1 for the race. As the current Columbia Threadneedle Rankings leader, she is having a career-best WTS season. After just missing the podium with fourth-place finishes in Abu Dhabi and Gold Coast, she has biked her way to a bronze in Cape Town and then a silver in Leeds. She is only missing a gold medal this season, so this Saturday could be her day to finally reach the top of the podium especially considering her success on tough bike courses.
However, one woman who does have experience being at the top of the Stockholm podium is USA’s Sarah True. She returns as the reigning back-to-back champion after she claimed the WTS Stockholm titles in 2014 and 2015. If she can manage another huge performance this weekend, she will earn a three-peat win.
American compatriot Katie Zaferes will join True on the start line this weekend. Zaferes, like True, will compete in Rio this summer after a remarkable six podiums last season, one of which was silver in Stockholm. While she hasn’t featured on the podium yet this year, this could be the venue that gets her back on the medal stand.
However, the American duo will face off with the full Great Britain Olympic roster with Helen Jenkins, Vicky Holland and Non Stanford all making appearances in Stockholm. Jenkins started off her season by earning third place in the season opener in Abu Dhabi, and continued on to win in Gold Coast. Holland is fresh off a podium performance in Leeds, while Stanford has one win under her belt this season from Cape Town.
The medals haven’t stopped there for the British women this year. Jodie Stimpson opened up the WTS season by winning in Abu Dhabi. She also earned the silver medal in Cape Town, and just missed the podium in Leeds to sit second overall Columbia Threadneedle rankings. Her results mean she has a good chance of being named World Champion in Cozumel later this year if she pulls out another strong performance this Saturday in Stockholm.
Andrea Hewitt (NZL), always a force to be reckoned with, kicked off her season with a roar in Gold Coast where she raced to bronze. Stronger in the back half of the season, Hewitt has scored bronze and silver in Stockholm the last two years. Although a consistent feature to the WTS podium, Hewitt hasn’t won a WTS race since 2011, but that could all change on Saturday.
Japan’s Ai Ueda also lines up as a medal contender having wowed her home nation by claiming the bronze medal in Yokohama in May.
The second half of the World Triathlon Series begins this weekend at the 2016 Vattenfall World Triathlon Stockholm. This Saturday, the men’s field will see an array of returning talent, including previous WTS Stockholm champions Alistair Brownlee and Jonathan Brownlee, as well as Spain’s Fernando Alarza compete in the two-lap 1500m swim, eight-lap 38.2km bike, and 10km run event.
It is Alarza that will be wearing the golden number one this weekend. Alarza was recently named to the Spanish Olympic team, earning a berth to his first-ever Olympic Games. He is currently second overall in the Columbia Threadneedle rankings,after scoring a silver medal in Gold Coast and then winning in Cape Town. Alarza is one of only three men to win a WTS race this year.
However, both Brownlees line up as two of three men to have ever won in Stockholm. Only rival Javier Gomez has also won in Stockholm, but he will miss this year’s race due to illness. Older brother Alistair won the race in 2013, while Jonathan took the top spot in 2012 and 2014. They will both carry strong momentum into Stockholm, with Alistair coming off a win in his hometown of Leeds, and Jonathan having scored silver in the same race.
It was a long overdue win for Alistair, who battled injury much of the last two years and was forced to miss several races. Jonathan. meanwhile, has so far produced a consistent season with three podium performances this season to sit third in the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings. The Brownlees already have a proven record in Stockholm, and will need little assistance getting out of the water early in an attempt to break away on the tough bike. Alarza will need to keep the brothers in close distance in the swim for a chance to overpower them.
Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt will race in Stockholm this weekend as a name to watch. In August, he’ll become the first Norwegian to compete in triathlon in the Olympic Games thanks in part to a win at the Cagliari World Cup and a bronze medal in Yokohama. Coming to triathlon from a swimming background, Blummenfelt is known to break away on the bike, which he did with Alistair in 2014 at the Edmonton Grand Final. A much improved run has made this young 22-year-old someone to keep an eye on.
The battle as the swim leader will undoubtedly be between South Africa’s Henri Schoeman and Richard Varga of Slovakia. Both men dominate in the water, so expect to see the two up front out of the two-lap 1500m swim.
Frenchmen Pierre Le Corre and Dorian Coninx will also compete this Saturday. Le Corre is fourth in the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings after executing top-ten finishes in three WTS races this season. Both men have podium potential, as they proved over the last two seasons. They will also represent France in Rio this summer. While he missed out on the Australian Olympic team, Under23 World Champion Jacob Birtwhistle has proven his ability to score a top finish with a fourth place in Yokohama & impressive results in the French Grand Prix. This lineup could just be his opportunity to medal.
The women will get the 2016 Vattenfell World Triathlon Stockholm underway at 16:00 on Saturday July 2, while the men will follow at 18:45 local time. Follow all of the action live at triathlonlive.tv and on twitter @triathlonlive. Trifecta returns this year with new features. Create a new login and pick your favourites now at trifecta.usatriathlon.org.Follow us
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