A very important step for Gwen Jorgensen?
Since its debut on the circuit, the US Team has continued to improve. Strong with the swim and run, it seems that only the bike leg is lagging. For Gwen, in particular, it is while she is on 2-wheels that she shows some vulnerability. Historically, it’s generally challenging for Jorgensen when the water is cold – a real concern with the Auckland race.
With an American team that reveals new talent every week. Although it’s hard to believe for one that has won the most World Series, feel significant pressure for Olympic selection. Contrary to some statements, USAT will not offer one discretionary bib. With True, Zafares, Tomlin, and even Jerdonek Cook (not racing), Gwen will not have the right to make mistakes in Rio. She still needs to prove that she can win on a hilly bike course.
A performance against Jorgensen in Auckland could expose a vulnerability to exploit for the ‘test event’.
The race will expose technical weaknesses on the bike
The men’s field as a whole has become more comfortable with technical courses and strategy within the group. There still is a great disparity with this aspect in the women’s field. In Auckland, we expect to see women fall off the group as much on the down hills as with the up hills. This will lead to a more dynamic run with many small groups heading out on the final leg.
Are the Canadian and New Zealand teams cut out for this race?
There are usually performance similarities with athletes of the same nation. This is usually explained both by a common philosophy and their shared training environment. Team New Zealand, with the benefit of racing at home, but also with strong technical skills is one that consistently has a strong presence in Auckland. Unfortunately, Samuels and McIlroy will not be present. Andrea Hewitt will be the only one who can demonstrate local expertise. She truly has a shot to play in this race.
Canada will have a strong team consisting of Kristen Sweetland, Paula Findlay, Sarah Anne Brault and Amelie Kretz. Working in their favour, all the girls are very comfortable on this style of course. For Amelie Kretz, this will be her debut in WTS. To recall in 2012, she finished sixth at the World Juniors.
The Germans will also be ones to watch with Haug, Robish and Filipino racing this weekend.
Who is absent and will miss their opportunity?
Nicola Spirig (SUI – mystery), Jodie Stimpson (GBR, officially injured), Helen Jenkins (GBR – preparing her return), Non Stanford (GBR – preparing her return) and Emma Jackson (AUS – injured) will not be racing. Time will tell if this decision is a wise one as this race is clearly cut out for them and their abilities.
Norden Haug and the unknown.
Lisa Norden (SWE) was a partial surprise in Abu Dhabi, by again demonstrating her ability to get out in front and to support the bike effort. However, both Norden and Haug have been slow to recover their running talent.
A slow run?
In the past, the winner has won with a time of 35:15, a time considered slow by current standards. Gwen Jorgensen has run a minute faster. This is explained by the fact that women will start the run will less energy. The bike course won’t let athletes to hide and wait.
Sarah-Anne Brault (CAN), Andrea Hewitt (NZ), Barbara Riveros (CHI), Anne Haug (ALL) and Sarah True (USA) in the past have shown their ability to run well following a challenging bike course. We will watch to see who has the legs and the enthusiasm to push the pace.
Elimination race one?
Due to the technical nature of the bike course, swimming is likely to have a less important role in this race. The key success factor will be to not get isolated on the swim. This is one of the few races where a breakaway in a very small number is not a handicap. Carolina Routier (ESP) should be quick out of the water and we can expect to see Lisa Norden (SWE) set the pace.
What gap is required to Jorgensen on the run leg?
Jorgensen really impressed in Abu Dhabi coming back from a gap of one minute on the front runners (Sprint). While one is tempted to adjust this gap to the Olympic distance, this course is so different that a 1:15 lead off the bike should be enough for athletes like Sweetland, Riveros, True or Hewitt to secure the victory.
Rookies and the French
We’ll be watching Amelie Kretz with her debut in the World Series. Along with Sarah-Anne Brault, Quebec will again have two athletes in World Series. Beyond that Claire Michel (BEL) and Emmie Charayron (FRA) have added a couple more francophones to the circuit.
The English decimated
With only Hall and Learmonth racing. When we know the potential of the English, it is very worrying for the future.
Small memo …
Only excellent cyclists will be able to run well behind. In theory, the weak athletes in this discipline were smart to ignore. For some athletes, Auckland is considerer as a dangerous race. There is a believe that some athletes are avoiding this stage. With numerous crashs in the past, the fear to get injured is understandable.
Here is the description of the course by the semi-local, Laurent Vidal.
Swimming is in the harbor on two towers, there may swell, but it will not be decisive, which will be on the other hand is the determination around the buoys.
The weather can play a big role in Auckland on the bike course, it is a circuit without downtime. A small return windy seaside and a chain of three ascents and descents three with three U-turns and more; everything to eight times. It is a course for « tough » both physically and technically.
Running is in the line of the bike leg, it will eventually drain muscularly athletes.
For the racing scenario, there may be a great show, the course is suitable, but as always, it will be the athletes who will decide.
The race will take place Canada (East) on Saturday at 19 h 41 & France, Sunday at 00 h 41