This weekend sees the world’s best triathletes come together in Lausanne, Switzerland for the WTS Grand Final Triathlon. In a vital year for Olympic qualification, this Grand Final will also be a key race in crowning the World Champion for 2019. With double points on offer for this event, and both the male and female WTS rankings so tightly packed, it’s set to be a fast and furious event over the Olympic distance.
Keep your eyes out for Zone3 athletes Jake Birtwhistle, Jelle Geens, Russell White, Gabor Faldum and Jorik van Egdom competing in the elite male race, alongside Non Stanford, Claire Michel and Gillian Sanders who will be racing in the elite female field.
Elite male field
Over the seven races so far this year, the Elite men’s competition has been incredibly open. Fifteen different men have stood on the podium in 2019, with six of the seven-race wins from different athletes. This goes some of the way to prove how competitive the field has been.
Mathematically, any of the top six in the current WTS rankings are still in the running for the World Championship title, but few would bet on any other than Vincent Luis (FRA) who has won the previous two Grand Final events. He currently stands in 1st place in the rankings, with almost a 500-point lead over 2nd position. With a top-five finish, he will be crowned World Champion for the 2019 season and roll into the 2020 Olympic Games year on a high!
Another favourite for the final WTS race of the year is surely Zone3 sponsored athlete Jake Birtwhistle (AUS), who is the only male to have been victorious at more than one race this season so far, WTS Hamburg. With a top result here, he mathematically could still become World Champion and will be looking to improve on his 5th place in the overall rankings from 2018.
The remaining top six athletes include Mario Mola (ESP), Javier Gomez Noya (ESP), Fernando Alarza (ESP) and Martin van Riel (BEL), who between them share only one WTS victory in 2019. This proves that sometimes, consistency is key!
Eyes will also be on the Belgian Jelle Geens, who outsprinted Mario Mola in Montreal to take his first ever WTS win.
A full race start list can be found here; https://www.triathlon.org/events/start_list/2019_itu_world_triathlon_grand_final_lausanne/337811
Elite female field
Almost completely opposite to how the men’s elite races have gone this year, the women’s field has been dominated by one name – Katie Zaferes (USA). With four WTS wins to her name this season so far, she only has to finish in the top 12 to win the World Championships title. However, a crash in the recent Tokyo Olympic Test Event may mean she’s not on top form. This could potentially leave her opponents able to capitalise on her bruised body and broken confidence, and with plenty of fast athletes waiting in the wings, she can’t afford to lose concentration at all.
The British duo of Jessica Learmonth and Georgia Taylor-Brown are Zaferes’ closest competitors and given their recent disqualification at the Tokyo Test event for crossing the finish line in first place together will want to swim hard and put the pressure on Zaferes from the very beginning. If Jess was to win this weekend, and Katie was to finish in 13th or below then she would become the World Champion for the first time.
Two other close contenders are Taylor Spivey (USA) and Non Stanford (GBR). Non celebrated success earlier in the season with a fantastic win at WTS Hamburg, and if she finds herself in contention after the swim and bike legs will be one to watch over the final 10k run.
Eyes also will be Flora Duffy’s (BER) return to WTS racing, who has been out for the season with an injury. A great performance at the Tokyo test event recently saw her awarded the win there and we believe that the Lausanne course suits her strengths. Two sharp climbs on each of the 7 bike laps are likely to cause a split in any packs that form after the swim leg.
A full race start list can be found here; https://www.triathlon.org/events/start_list/2019_itu_world_triathlon_grand_final_lausanne/337812