The ITU World Cup Series moves to Chengdu, the capital of China’s southwest province of Sichuan. Chengdu hosts a World Cup race for the second time this weekend and with Olympic ranking points up for grabs has attracted large international fields for racing on Saturday before age group events take place on Sunday.
Athletes face a largely flat course at Jin Tang, with a two lap swim in the man-made lake before a six lap ride on a largely flat but in places technical course before a four lap run brings the competitors home to the finish line. Incredibly the park surroundings and infrastructure have been purpose built with this event in mind.
Austria’s Lisa Perterer leads the women’s field, the 24 year old has enjoyed a strong start to her season with a 5th place at the Auckland WTS event the highlight, with the same finishing position at the Mooloolaba ITU World Cup reinforcing her strong early season form. Perterer has a strong record in hot and humid conditions so will be hoping for a day exactly along those lines on Saturday. She will have Austrian company in the form of Sara Vilic.
Annamaria Mazzetti (Italy) is something of a wildcard, her only race so far in 2015 was a DNF in Capetown but if she can recapture the form that saw her finish 4th in Chicago and 6th in Hamburg WTS races in 2014, she will be more than capable of standing on the podium.
It seems the Americans can do no wrong in 2015, led by the irrepressible Gwen Jorgensen the USA women’s programme is dominating all others and Jessica Broderick will be keen to continue that in Chengdu. One of the less heralded of the American’s Broderick is nonetheless a huge talent and can win here on a good day. Broderick’s form so far in 2015 has been good without being outstanding, her best being 4th at the Mooloolaba sprint World Cup event. She was runner up in Chengdu last year, can she breakthrough for a first ITU World Cup win?
But in a field of 73 starters, this race is wide open with the likes of Felicity Sheedy-Ryan (AUS), the Japanese pairing of Yuko Takahashi and Yurie Kato all genuine chances. Or could the fast running Renee Tomlin (USA) be close enough off the bike to challenge? Saturday will provide the answers.
China will have six women on the start line, led by Yuting Huang.
Elite Women’s Field
Ryan Sissons (New Zealand) comes in as the top ranked men’s athlete but does so after a difficult start to the season as he overhauls his swimming stroke. Sissons has been on the record as saying this will not be a quick fix and that he has the long game in mind, however, if the Kiwi is anywhere near the leaders heading on to the run, he presents the biggest danger to the field.
Joe Maloy (USA) will also feature, the American has never won an ITU World Cup event but this might be a great chance for the current American number one to stand atop the podium, he was 11th here last year so will know the conditions and course well.
There will be interest in Maloy’s compatriot Hunter Kemper who, at 39 is still competing on the ITU circuit after four Olympic Games and many, many World Cup events. He is still the only American male to ever be ranked at number one by the ITU.
The men’s race field is even larger than the women’s with 76 on the start pontoon, meaning position in the swim will be vital and concentration on the bike essential. If team work is required, look out for the Mexicans with Sergio Sarmiento and Rodrigo Gonzalez ranked in the top 15 alongside number three ranked Irving Perez.
The host nation has seven athletes lining up in the men’s race, led by Faquan Bai.
Elite Men’s Field
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