Triathletes worldwide will have their weekend viewing sorted, with both long-distance and short racing on offer. WTS Bermuda and IRONMAN Texas are set to be the biggest races of the weekend, read on to hear our race previews!
The 2nd running of WTS Bermuda is taking place this weekend, as the second race in the WTS calendar for 2019. This year is an incredibly important year for athletes on this circuit, with Olympic qualification on the line ahead of the Tokyo Games in 2020. The 2018 version of this event, taking place over a tough and hilly standard distance course, made history and proved that Bermuda is a triathletes’ dream race destination!
The male race ended in a Norwegian clean sweep of the podium, with Casper Stornes breaking away early on the bike with a solo effort to victory. Stornes’ teammates Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden managed to break away from the main pack in the latter stages of the 40k bike, to leave them enough gap to hold onto the remaining podium spots over the 10km run. While it’s very unlikely we’ll have a repeat performance this year, the hilly bike course will see lots of attacking riding from the three Norwegians, as well as Zone3’s own Andreas Schilling (DEN) and Martin van Riel (BEL). The strong cyclists will be looking to build as large a lead over the light-footed runners as possible, who include Jake Birtwhistle (AUS), Mario Mola (ESP) and Vincent Luis (FRA). Bermuda will also play a welcome return to WTS racing for Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) and Javier Gomez (ESP), both keen to stamp their mark in Olympic qualification year.
The female race from 2018 was absolutely dominated by favourite Flora Duffy (BER). She led from gun to tape, with the fastest splits set across all 3 disciplines. Unfortunately, the end of her 2018 season was blighted with injury to a tendon, and recently an incredibly disappointed Duffy had to withdraw from her home race. This withdrawal leaves the race open for a showdown amongst the other women. Both USA and GBR have incredibly strong depth in their squads, and Vicky Holland (GBR) and Katie Zaferes (USA) will be looking to fight for the win after their podium positions in 2018. Zone3’s Non Stanford (GBR) has proved she’s back to top form, having produced the second-fastest run split at the previous WTS even in Abu Dhabi, so eyes will be on her! Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) and Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA) will also be in the battle for the podium if it comes down to a 10km foot race.
WTS Bermuda can be watched live on Saturday 27th April 2019.
The other Brownlee will be taking to the start line of 70.3 Marbella this weekend too. Alistair Brownlee will have some strong competition in this Spanish race, but all eyes will be on him to lead the field in his usual attacking style. Andreas Dreitz (GER), Ivan Rana (ESP) and Florian Angert (GER) will be battling it out on the hilly bike course that seems very suited to Brownlee. The female field for 70.3 Marbella contains Laura Phillip (GER) and Olympic gold medallist Lisa Norden (SWE)
This weekend will also see the IRONMAN North American Championships taking place at IRONMAN Texas. With guaranteed Kona slots on offer for the top 2 males and females and a further 2 “Unassigned” spots for grabs, there’s set to be a fast race on the cards. 2018 running of this event was blisteringly quick, will 11 men finishing in sub-8 hours and 10 women sub-9. Alongside this, the IRONMAN World Record times for both male and females were beaten. Matt Hanson (USA) finished in 7:39:25, supplanting Tim Don’s previous record of 7:40:23. Melissa Hauschildt (AUS) set a new record of 8:31:05 to break Chrissie Wellington’s long-standing record of 8:33:56.
Matt Hanson will be back on the start line for 2019, eager to build on his successes from 2018 and commit to another fast race. Will Clarke (GBR) is also another podium athlete from 2018 back on the start line for 2019, and one to watch out for. The race is set to be dictated by a trio of incredibly strong bikers including Joe Skipper (GBR), who previously held the IRONMAN Texas Bike split record. Andrew Starykowicz (USA) finished 8th overall last year but rode the 112-mile bike leg nearly 9 minutes faster than his closest competitor. Michael Weiss (AUT) is an ex-professional cyclist who is set to get noticed on the bike leg too. Other names to keep an eye on throughout the race will be Kyle Buckingham (ZAF) and Patrick Nilsson (SWE). It’s likely that the 2 unassigned Kona slots will go to the men’s field due to the depth of it, so top 4 are probably going solidify their spot on the big island. Keep an eye out for further British interest in Sam Proctor, who has been putting some great early season results in.
In the female field, the undeniable favourite will be Daniela Ryf (CHE). The multiple world 70.3 and IRONMAN Champion, is coming off the back of a fantastic performance at 70.3 Oceanside, which she won by 5 minutes! Unless something unexpected occurs, the other women will be racing for the silver medal at best. Kimberley Morrison (GBR) is likely to dominate the bike leg, with an incredible aerodynamic position to help her cut through the field. Jocelyn McCauley (USA) and Lesley Smith (USA) are also going to be in the mix throughout, and Dmitiy-Lee Duke (AUS) is likely to want her revenge after pulling out of the race in protest in 2018! Top 2 athletes are likely going to qualify for Kona.
IRONMAN Texas can be watched live via the IRONMAN Now Facebook page on Saturday 27th April.
Challenge Gran Canaria
Challenge Gran Canaria will be also be taking place on Saturday, to round out an incredibly busy day of triathlon. There is lots of Zone3 interest at this event, with Pieter Heemeryck (BEL) the favourite for the day. Recent wins at Challenge Daytona and Challenge Salou will have him brimming with confidence. Sam Pictor and Tom Davis are both in flying form and looking to represent GBR well. Tom Davis is coming off the back of a podium at Challenge Salou, while Sam Pictor has spent a lot of time in the wind tunnel over the winter refining his bike position to help him gain every advantage over his competition.
Emma Pallant (GBR) is the favourite for the female race but won’t be given an easy ride by Caroline Livesey (GBR).
The World Paratriathlon Series race in Milan is filled to the brim with talent, with Andy Lewis (PTS2) and Dave Ellis (PTSVI) heading out as the key athletes to watch representing Great Britain. Some of these athletes will be no doubt using Milan as a fitness tester in a year where Paralympic qualification is on the line for anyone in categories PTWC, PTS4, PTS5 and PTVI.
Dave Ellis will be one to watch for sure, undefeated in his classification since 2014 and looking to build on World and European Championship and get his hands on a Paralympic gold medal in Toyko.