Australia’s Gold Coast has already witnessed plenty of triathlon history. It hosted just the third ITU World Championships in 1991, before becoming the first Grand Final host when the World Triathlon Series made its debut in 2009. Now the host of the 2018 Commonwealth Games is back on the Series circuit this weekend, and all of the top ranked athletes are out to play.
It has almost been a full calendar year since Gwen Jorgensen was beaten in a World Triathlon Series race. Since Cape Town in 2014, where she finished third, the reigning World Champion has collected seven consecutive race titles. That has taken her career tally to 10 total World Triathlon Series wins.
While the introduction of the World Triathlon Series means its hard to make comparisons to different eras of the sport, it’s worth considering where Jorgensen’s run sits in ITU history. Australia’s Emma Carney was unbeaten across 12 ITU World Cup races in the 1995 and 1996 seasons, but did not win ITU World Championships in those years when the race was a single-day championship. That puts Carney’s impressive unbeaten streaks at five races long. Portugal’s Vanessa Fernandes, the most successful World Cup winner with 20 titles, had two unbeaten streaks of nine races in her career, which did include European cup races, European Championships and Duathlon world title races. Put simply, Jorgensen is entering rare territory, and will be the overwhelming favourite to continue that winning streak on the Gold Coast.
From the start of the 2015 season it would seem that Jorgensen’s biggest rivals will come from within her own national team. After a string of bad luck in World Triathlon Series races in 2014, Katie Zaferes has captured silver behind Jorgensen in the past two races. In Gold Coast, the U.S. will field a nine-strong team, including Jorgensen, Zaferes, WTS winner Sarah True and top-10 ranked Lindsey Jerdonek.
Others who have been in form so far in 2015 include Bermuda’s Flora Duffy, who picked up her first World Triathlon Series podium place in Abu Dhabi, Mooloolaba World Cup winner Tamara Gomez Garrido, New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt, Australia’s Emma Moffatt and Ashleigh Gentle and the Canadian team of Kirsten Sweetland,Paula Findlay, Sarah-Anne Brault and Amelie Kretz.
Also expect the crowd to warmly welcome back London Olympic bronze medallist Erin Densham. Injury and illness have interrupted her past two seasons, and 2015 was then rudely interrupted by a nasty bike crash just last month, but she is back on the start list for the Queensland event. The course also holds special significance for Australia’s Moffatt, as she won the race when it was last held in 2009, which earned her the overall world championship crown.
Click here to view the women’s start list
The women will get underway at 11:00am local time. Watch the races live on triathlonlive.tv and follow on @triathlonlive for play by play updates.
The women’s start list will begin with the No. 2, as the No. 1 spot will be left open as a tribute to the remarkable Jackie Fairweather, who passed away in November of 2014. While Jorgensen is ranked first in the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings, she will sport No. 2, with the golden bike rack also left open in transition to remember Fairweather and her great contributions to the sport of triathlon. Fairweather was an ITU World Champion, Hall of Fame nominee, board member, high performance manager, coach & event commentator. She was also an accomplished runner, having won bronze at the Commonwealth Games for Australia in 2002.
By his lofty standards, Jonathan Brownlee‘s 2014 was quieter than usual. Despite a brilliant Commonwealth Games campaign and one WTS win in Stockholm, he fell off the podium in a few races, breaking his consecutive run of WTS medals. But in Auckland just two weeks ago, Brownlee showed he has back with a brilliant performance to take his first win on the Auckland course - the first time a man other than Javier Gomez Noya had taken the title in New Zealand.
The Gold Coast then offers a tantalising prospect, a fully fit Brownlee tackling Gomez again, though this time on a very different course. While Auckland is known for its tough hills, Gold Coast will instead see a fairly flat and technical course, with eight total laps of 5km each.
Though as we have seen in the past year, this weekend’s race is not likely to be a sole Brownlee versus Gomez affair. Fernando Alarza has proved he’s a threat in the past two seasons and will start with the number three, Mario Mola starts with the number four and was the winner in Abu Dhabi. Mola has fond memories of Gold Coast, having beat out Brownlee when then were juniors over a sprint course for the Junior World Championship title.
The start list also includes WTS winners such as Richard Murray and Joao Silva. So far the French men’s team have had an excellent start to 2015, with Vincent Luis taking third in Abu Dhabi and Pierre Le Corre third in Auckland. Watch for both on the Gold Coast.
Click here to view the men’s start list
The men will take off at 4:00pm local time. Watch the races live on triathlonlive.tv and follow on @triathlonlive for play by play updates.
Courtesy ITU/ Triathlon.org