The world championships will be held over two days, Saturday and Sunday, this weekend in Auckland, NZ.
The championships kick Saturday with the U23 Women, followed by the Elite Women and then the U23 Men. Sunday we have the Junior Women, Elite Men and the curtain closer, Junior Men.
Canada is sending a team of 18 athletes to Auckland with a range a first timers to seasoned vets. The potential for medals is there, especially on the womens side. Lets take a closer look at each race, the Canadian Contingent and key players.
U23 Women (Brown,Coates,Hooper,Jaminicky,Pennock)
A full team of five women will toe the line for Canada to kick off the weekend. Canada has the strongest team for this event, hands down. On a good day we could see two medals come out of this event. Our women certainly have the run speed to contend with Brown and Pennock leading the charge. It will be a matter of weathering the storm in the swim and riding smart to bring home the hardware here. Expect to see Hooper in the mix up front out of the water with good skill in this type of water.
The Canadians will have to deal with recent back-to-back WTS podium performances from Caelers (NED), super-swimmer Hall (GBR) who will undoubtedly lead out, and hard running Charayron (FRA) and Stanford (GBR).
A deeper field to this one than previous U23 women events, good to see this title becoming more of a priority for athletes transitioning to the elite ranks.
Podium: Caelers, Brown, Pennock
Darkhorse: Shiver (USA)
Elite Women (Campbell)
Solo squad with just Lauren Campbell representing. She will be looking to rekindle the form she showed in Edmonton this summer on a similary hilly bike course. In 2006 she performed well on the infamous Lausanne course placing 4th in what was her breakout race.
The elite women have a two-horse race for the overall title between Norden and Densham. As of late Norden looks primed to take it, but Densham has the upper hand, just needing to place one position ahead of Norden, however this will likely have to be 1st!!
The tough bike lends itself to last years World Cup winner Hewitt along with Haug who showed just how dominant she can be on a course of this nature in Madrid. Others to keep an eye on will be Murua (ESP) and Samuels (NZL) who will looking to get a small group away on the bike.
Podium: Haug, Norden, Hewitt
U23 Men (Hinton, Sharpe, Thomas, Vierula)
The Canadian group of men will do battle as the last event of Saturday to cap off a stunner of day. The Canucks have talent to showcase, it will just be a matter of putting it all together on the day. World Cup and Continental Cup podiums out of this bunch so look for emerging talent to rise up in what is a strong field.
The U23 men’s field has a host of strong fish. Taking Varga out of the equation you might argue the U23 men’s swim would be quicker than the elite. Amberger, Little Vasiliev, Salvisberg, Le Corre, the list goes on for swim talent. But most talented of all will be Schoeman of RSA, who if could somehow transfer his aquatic skills over to one Richard Murray then South Africa would certainly have a champ. It will be interesting however to see how the dynamics of this swim unfold. With so many strong swimmers not wanting to relinquish pole position the potential to slow things down is there.
Onto the bike/run. Certainly there will be cracks at this course, early and often. Amberger will be drilling it out of T2 with a few frenchies and russians joining in. A key player coming out mid pack will be Davison (NZL). Davison represents the virtual ‘Spirig Sweep’ here, offering a last chance for atheltes to make the front group. That is if they can hold his wheel which offers a lot of pain and not a lot of draft:)
A tough one to call but here it is:
Podium: Alarza, Bishop, Le Corre
Sundays events to come…..stay tuned.