With the Grand Final of the ITU World Triathlon Series fast approaching, precious world championship ranking points are at stake at the penultimate stop in Yokohama this weekend. Andrea Hewitt (NZL) returns from a short break in racing, making the women’s competition more fierce than ever. In contrast, while key players in the men’s race are missing, racing will be anything but lacking as athletes gun for important points.
This year, athletes will start with a two-lap 750km swim in the sea near Osambashi pier. An Olympic distance race, the bike and run legs start and finish in Yamashita park and in and around Yokohama’s waterfront. The bike snakes around the giant Cosmo Clock 21 Ferris Wheel, while the run will take athletes around the Kanagawa Prefectural Government Building.
About the race:
The ITU World Triathlon Series returns to Yokohama for the third time. The series first appeared in Japan in 2009. The Japanese portal city skipped the 2010 series, but it reappeared on the WTS calendar in 2011. Due to the devastating earthquake last year, the event was postponed to later in the year with ranking points counting towards to the 2012 season.
Elite Women – Saturday September 29 – 08:00 (UTC/GMT +9) Click here to time in your area
Elite Men – Saturday September 29 – 11:00 (UTC/GMT +9)
Swim (1500m) – Two-laps for a 1500m swim in the sea near Osambashi pier.
Bike (40km) – Five, 8km laps that begin and end in Yamashita park.The bike snakes around the giant Cosmo Clock 21 Ferris Wheel and Yokohama’s waterfront.
Run (10km) – Four 2.5km laps around the Kanagawa Prefectural Government Building
STORIES TO WATCH FOR:
WTS Leaders: Who’s in and who’s out – While some Olympians opted to sit out the last WTS event in Stockholm, others continued racing. Amongst those for the women were then-leader Andrea Hewitt (NZL) and highly-ranked Nicola Spirig (SUI). While Spirig remains absent from the start list in Yokohama, giving opportunity for others to take over her No. 4 ranking, Hewitt returns to action. Hewitt fell second to current leader Erin Densham (AUS), but is back looking for important points leading up to the Grand Final in Hewitt’s native New Zealand.
Top-ranked Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) chose to compete in Sweden, but will not appear in Japan. Though he sits with more than a 500-point lead, the move could be risky with several men gunning for his spot. In an equally risky choice, men’s second-ranked Alexander Bryukhankov (RUS) removed his name from the start list, giving room for No. 3 Javier Gomez to overtake his number two slot.
Homecoming for Japanese Olympians – The host country itself will feature a deep pool of talent with 2012 Olympians Mariko Adachi, Juri Ide, and Ai Ueda ready to dazzle their compatriots. Last year, huge crowds poured out to support the athletes, which will no doubt assist these athletes in their vision for glory. The full contingency of men will also compete, which includes Yuichi Hosoda and Hirokatsu Tayama will race in front of home crowds.
Women’s Race – Hewitt will face severe competition for that No. 1 spot on the leaderboard. Densham has been unstoppable this season, having made the podium in all but one race since March. Her only slip was in Stockholm, but her fifth-place finish was good enough to give her the top WTS ranking by 470 points. While the Aussie has yet to race in Yokohama, her form this year makes her a serious threat for the podium. Densham won’t be the only Aussie contender in Yokohama with Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) and Emma Moffatt (AUS) set to start as well. Lisa Norden (SWE), who has been on fire since her silver medal in London, will also line up in the Japanese coastal city.
Men’s Race – Although Olympic silver medallist Javier Gomez (ESP) sits 380 points behind Bryukhankov, he could capitalize on the opportunity to score his first victory of the ITU season. With Alistair Brownlee (GBR) missing from the line up, as well as out of contention for the world title, Gomez will undoubtedly be looking to reclaim the world title, and hence critical points in Yokohama. Similarly, Sven Riederer (SUI) will take advantage of the opportunity to add points to his fourth-place ranking, as well as the French duo of Laurent Vidal and David Hauss. Dmitry Polyanskiy (RUS), who recently won the Tongyeong World Cup, will jockey with the group for a better position on the WTS list as he wears number three on the start list in Japan. Last year Joao Silva (POR) broke through for his first series victory with an impressive performance and he is back to defend his title.
PREVIOUS YOKOHAMA WINNERS
2011 Andrea Hewitt (NZL) Joao Silva (POR)
2009 Lisa Norden (SWE) Jan Frodeno (GER)