Here we are, an event that was conceived back in the dark days of winter, a date that was marked months ago as a must watch. A totally unique event to the WTS and predecessor WC circuits….Kitzbuhel WTS – Kitzbuheler Horn. Featuring a 750m swim (likely wetsuit), an 11.5k cycle that can be split into two parts; 5k flat and fast followed by 6k steep and slow, cap it off with a 2.5k upslope run to the finish and summit of the Kitzbuheler Horn at 1500m+ and you have what is labeled as “Probably the Toughest Race in the World”. Lets rephrase that for the ITU as “Probably the Toughest Course in the World” and with the worlds best triathletes killing each other on it it is “The Toughest Race in the World”.
It is no surprise that you see the athletes arriving 7-10 days early for this one as opposed to the usual 2-3 days. Many have been tweeting about climbing the Kitzbuheler earlier this week and their gearing of choice for the beast…sounds like a 32 tooth cog is becoming pretty standard.
Photos Courtesy: Steffen Justus & Laurent Vidal
Start list can be found here
Having not had a WTS sprint distance 750m swim yet this year it will be interesting to see what type of gaps come out of the water. Jorgensen has been swimming better and better this year but Haug has left herself in some less ideal situations into T1. Stanford , coming off a dominating performance in Madrid has shown the whole package for a race of this nature as well as now a few winters of Yorkshire dale training to suit. Other notables for this bout include Jodie Stimpson (GBR) a very powerful athlete, Andrea Hewitt (NZL) coming off a French GP win and Abram (AUS) who training alongside Alistair is certainly accustom to hills. A few wildcards to consider include Samuels (NZL), Sweetland (CAN) and Hewison (GBR) who can really dance on the pedals perpendicular to contours.
The dynamic of the women’s race will take shape in the opening stages of the bike. They will be motivation to put as much time on Haug before the climb begins over the opening flats and we may see the lead group have a 30s advantage to begin here. Over the course of the climb anything can really happen but expect the aforementioned athletes dictating and following the tempo.
What makes this race all the better is the fact that the pain doesn’t let up on the run. It is somewhat traditional to have a tough bike followed by a flat run, but this run course is to the contrary. Technical skills will also come in need with scree and wet grass to deal with on the ski slopes.
In what should be a fantastic race Trimes sees the podium as:
Wildcard: Hewison, Sweetland
Startlist can be found here:
The men’s race will take a bit of a different dynamic than the women we feel. The contenders should all be out of the water in a string and by the base of the climb be one large, merry, group. On the climb expect to see a lot of punchy efforts thrown by lesser known athletes with strong cycling pedigrees looking for a break. Unfortunately this course plays to the Brownlees strengths as well so unless we see some integrated team tactics don’t expect to see the Yorkshire lads letting something go up the road. Gomez, after a busy busy early race schedule has settled down into a good training block specific to this event , as has Laurent Vidal coming off a Bundesliga win on a similar style course in Schliersee two weeks ago. Mola (ESP) and Murray have continued to carry good form throughout the year and with cycling now a strength for both, we could see them up there putting some worry into the Brownlees run legs. Veteran Riederer (SUI) has always enjoyed and excelled on tough bike events and he will yet another one to keep an eye on. Some wildcards to certainly look out for include Chrabot, Wilson, Keane, Kanute and Wild who all love a good go on the gradients. Austrian hopes rest on the shoulders of Giglmayr who has had the luxury of becoming most accustomed to the course and will no doubt have some flag waving support along the climb.
Into T2 we see a group of 4-6 riders coming in with the usual big three foaming at the mouth to start the run. The podium will see some familiar and slightly foreign faces as:
Wildcards: Chrabot, Bailie, Kanute
Andrew McCartney on top of Austria