The 2012 ITU season has produced endless action, including photo finishes at the London Olympic Games and a final flurry of changes to the ITU World Triathlon Series leader boards in the last two races. Now it’s time for the season to come to a close, but not before the riveting crowning of the 2012 ITU World Champions at the Grand Final in Auckland. While most eyes will be on the elites, more than 3,000 athletes will descend on Auckland, making this Grand Final one of the biggest yet.
About the Race: New Zealand has always had an incredible enthusiasm for triathlon and has produced some amazing champions, including the first ITU World Champion Erin Baker and 2004 Olympic gold medallist Hamish Carter. This year, the biggest event on the ITU calendar is set in New Zealand’s biggest city of Auckland. A city bustling with nightlife and entertainment and close to over 40 scenic islands, Kiwis will be treated to a race with almost double the prize money and double the points. The city has previously hosted five world cups, with the most recent taking place in 2011.
Schedule (all times UTC/GMT +11):
Aquathlon – Wednesday 17 October – 14:00 Click here for time in your area
U23 Women – Saturday 20 October – 9:15 Click here for time in your area
Elite Women- Saturday 20 October – 12:15 Click here for time in your area
U23 Men – Saturday 20 October – 15:15 Click here for time in your area
Junior Women – Sunday 21 October – 11:00 Click here for time in your area
Elite Men – Sunday 21 October – 13:05 Click here for time in your area
Junior Men – Sunday 21 October – 16:00 Click here for time in your area
Paratriathlon – Monday 22 October- 15:15 Click here for time in your area
Click here for Elite Women’s start list
Click here for Elite Men’s start list
Click here for Under 23 Women’s start list
Click here for Under 23 Men’s start list
Click here for Junior Women’s start list
Click here for Junior Men’s start list
TOTAL PRIZE MONEY:
$270,000 USD (equal for elite men & elite women), in addition to the $600,000 year-end bonus for the top 30 men and women.
COURSE PROFILE: Elite and Under 23
Swim (1.5km) – Athletes will likely wear wetsuits for a chilly 1.5km swim alongside Queens Wharf.
Bike (40km) – The bike course is one of the most difficult on the ITU calendar with a sharp incline on each of the eight-bike loops through downtown Auckland.
Run (10km) – Athletes will finish with a four-lap clockwise run down Queen Street.
**Juniors will race a sprint distance
STORIES TO WATCH FOR
Elite Men – With incredibly close overall series rankings in both the men’s and women’s competition, the elite races are set to be a clash of the titans. Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) will attempt to keep the ITU World Championship in the family, but not without intense pressure from two-time world champion Javier Gomez (ESP). Despite a sprained ankle last month, the Spaniard overtook Alexander Bryukhankov (RUS) in Yokohama to cut Brownlee’s lead to just 180 points. With older brother Alistair absent from the lineup, only time will tell if a rested Jonny will out-race Gomez for his first world championship title on October 21. The younger Brownlee leads the series with 3825 points, followed by Gomez with 3645 and Bryukhankov with 3285.
Elite Women – On the women’s side, the showdown set for October 20 looks more and more like the final minutes of the London Olympics with Erin Densham (AUS) and Lisa Norden (SWE) battling for the title. Densham started the season on top, but Norden has claimed the last two series races. However, neither of the Olympic medallists raced in Auckland last year where New Zealand’s own Andrea Hewitt conquered the course for gold. Hewitt was leading the series until she sat Stockholm out. The Kiwi will need a massive race to take the title, but all bets are off in Auckland. Densham leads the series with 3611 points, followed closely by Norden with 3581 points and Olympic gold medallist Nicola Spirig with 3264, who will not race in Auckland. Hewitt sits in fourth with 3141.
Rising Stars vie for Jr and U23 World Championships – On October 20, the Under23 men’s and women’s races will be contested over the same course as the elites, and is heaped full of triathlon faces of the future. Vincent Luis (FRA), who recently secured bronze in Stockholm, headlines the U23 men’s race followed by Fernando Alarza (ESP). Igor Polyanskiy (RUS), whose brother will line up with the elites, is also a rising star to watch. A host of impressive ladies will feature in the U23 women’s race, including Maaike Caelers (NED), who recorded top three finishes in the last two WTS events. She will face opposition from the likes of Non Stanford (GBR), Claudia Rivas (MEX), and Emmie Charayron (FRA). Juniors will race on a similar course as the elites, but over half the distance for a smoking sprint. Mikayla Nielsen (NZL) returns on hom esoil to defend her junior women’s title, while men’s 2011 bronze medallist Tony Smoragiewicz (USA) will line up at for a chance at the title this year.
Paratriathlon – This year, the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships will see record participation with more than 100 paratriathletes across 20 National Federations slated to compete. Participation is up more than 25% from the 2011 championships in Beijing. Six categories will be contested on October 22 over a 750m swim, 20km bike (handcycle/tandem), 5km run (wheelchair) distance. Great Britain reigned supreme in Beijing, claiming the top two spots in four of the classifications. They return a strong team this year, but it’s anybody’s race.
Record Age-Groupers Line up – More than 3,000 competitors are ready to race in Auckland – one of the highest numbers of Age-Group athletes at a World Championship to date. The number is an increase of nearly a thousand entries from Beijing. Athletes opt between an Olympic and sprint distance race, both they can’t do both, as each will be contested on October 22. A quick 1km swim and 5km run, some athletes may use the aquathlon on October 17 as a warmup for their triathlon races later in the week. A record 753 athletes will travel to New Zealand for the swim-run battle.
PAST GRAND FINAL WINNERS
2011 Beijing Grand Final
1. Helen Jenkins (GBR) 1. Alistair Brownlee (GBR)
2010 Budapest Grand Final
1. Emma Snowsill (AUS) 1. Alistair Brownlee (GBR)
2009 Gold Coast Grand Final
1. Emma Moffatt (AUS) 1. Alistair Brownlee (GBR)
ITU WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP MEDALLISTS (since World Championship format change in 2009)
1. Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 1. Alistair Brownlee (GBR)
2. Helen Jenkins (GBR) 2. Sven Riederer (SUI)
3. Melanie Hauss (SUI) 3. Jonathan Brownlee (GBR)
1. Emma Moffatt (AUS) 1. Javier Gomez (ESP)
2. Nicola Spirig (SUI) 2. Steffen Justus (GER)
3. Lisa Norden (SWE) 3. Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS)
1. Emma Moffatt (AUS) 1. Alistair Brownlee (GBR)
2. Lisa Norden (SWE) 2. Javier Gomez (ESP)
3. Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 3. Maik Petzold (GER)