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Olympic Test Event Previews

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Womens Race

The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games are closer than ever, hitting the one-year countdown mark on August 5. While the women’s circuit has been mostly dominated by one woman this season, when it comes down to Olympic competitions, all slates are clean.

Set at the beautiful Copacabana Beach, the elite women will soon descend on Brazil for the 2015 Rio de Janeiro ITU World Olympic Qualification Event, Sunday August 2, where the top three athletes will earn their nation a spot in the lineup for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games next summer.

Battle of the Federations
There’s no contesting that the US women have been on a tour de force this year, occupying the top three spots in the world rankings, which they’ve managed to do with three women inside the top 10 in each race. Leading the list is none other than Gwen Jorgensen. With her historic winning streak still intact after earning her eleventh straight victory in Hamburg, she has all the skills necessary to punch a ticket to Rio.

Compatriots Sarah True and Katie Zaferes also share a strong contention for success in the Olympic event. Ranked third this season, True just missed a medal at the London Olympics in fourth, while Zaferes has enjoyed a breakout year. These women have swept the podium twice this year, suggesting we could well see the team go 1-2-3 in Rio.
But the USA is not the only Federation turning heads, as Great Britain has recently been making headlines with the performances of Vicky Holland and Non Stanford, both of whom are back from injury. Housemates and training partners, both Holland and Stanford sprinted their way onto the podium at the most recent ITU World Triathlon Series race in Hamburg, Germany.

The normally strong Australians have faltered slightly in the rankings this year, but Olympic bronze medallists Emma Moffatt and Erin Densham will both line up with Olympic success on their side. Both of the women have struggled with injury and illness the last two years, but Moffatt showed signs of a return to brilliance when she podiumed with her teammate Ashleigh Gentle in Yokohama earlier this year.

Making Waves
Carolina Routier (ESP) and Brazil’s own Pamela Oliveira are as amphibious as they come in the women’s lineup. Look for this pair, along with Helen Jenkins (GBR), Gillian Backhouse (AUS), and Olympic silver medallist Lisa Norden (SWE) to be amongst the leaders out of the wavy, salty swim. Jenkins, Oliveira and Norden are also dangerous on the bike meaning the chase will want to reel them in quickly.
Moving mountains
Flora Duffy (BER) started the year out with a bang with a bronze in the first race of the year with a dominant performance on the bike. The Bermuda triathlete is well suited for the challenging bike course, as is Norden and the always consistent Andrea Hewitt (NZL). Although she’s suffered from a parasite the last several months, Kirsten Sweetland (CAN) is also known to do work on the bike. Norden and Jenkins’ combined swim and bike power make them a worry, but both have running injuries that could plague their chances at a podium.

Bringing it home
There’s no arguing that Jorgensen has more finishing power than any lady in the field. Time and again she’s run herself from a minute deficit onto the podium. While she is turning into a well-rounded triathlete in all three disciplines, her run is still key to her dominance. In Olympic history, the fastest run time for women is 33:16, which was accomplished by Emma Snowsill in the 2008 Beijing Games. Jorgensen has beaten that split on five different occasions in her WTS career.

While she’s endured an injury the last 15 months, Non Stanford is also amongst the fastest women on two feet. Holland has also revved up her footwork in the last year and has come back better than ever from her injury. She has serious kick down the finish chute that her competitors will want to keep in check. Their teammate Jodie Stimpson is an overall solid triathlete, able to keep pace on the swim, bike and run, and will be a factor if mechanical issues don’t derail her race as they have the last two events.

On their way
Chile stamped its passport to Rio during the Pan American Games when Barbara Riveros took home the gold and earned an Olympic qualifying spot. Likewise, Japan earned a spot via Ai Ueda at the 2015 New Taipei ASTC Triathlon Asian Championships. While reigning Olympic Champion Nicola Spirig won’t contest the Test Event, she validated for Switzerland with the winning time at the Baku European Games. Hewitt has also already fulfilled her country’s requirements to be the athlete sent to Rio.

Click here for the women’s start list

How to watch
The elite women will race at 9:00am on Sunday, 2 August 2015. Click here for international start times.
Live timing will be offered for the paratriathlon races on triathlon.org/live. We will also offer play by play updates on twitter at @triathlonlive, as well as views of the race on Periscope at @worldtriathlon. While there will be no live broadcasts of the races, highlights will be included on the magazine show on August 13 on TriathlonLive.TV

Mens Race

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This triathlon season so far has been thrilling, fast and historic. And with the countdown to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games nearing the one-year mark, fans and athletes alike have been looking to this season as preparation of what is to come next summer.

The excitement continues as all the top triathletes travel to Brazil to compete in the 2015 Rio de Janeiro ITU World Olympic Qualification Event August 2, in a test of what is to come at the Olympic Games.
The men’s start list is jammed packed with star potential, which will make for some electrifying entertainment on the race course as the top three men will all qualify their countries a spot for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. In addition to the automatic berths to the Olympics, several National Federations will select their athletes to toe the line in Rio come 2016 at the Test Event this weekend.
Top Contenders
While he isn’t the highest world ranked man this season, Alistair Brownlee (GBR) doesn’t race to lose. As the reigning Olympic gold medallist, Brownlee is the only person that has won a Test Event, as well as the Olympic Games. He also holds the record for the fastest run time in an Olympic Games, which was 29:07 during the 2012 London Olympics.

Normally a strong duo, Alistair’s younger brother Jonathan will miss Rio due to injury, leaving his older brother to fend off a feisty Spanish team that occupies the top three world rankings this year.

Among the Spanish cavalry are Javier Gomez Noya, Mario Mola and Fernando Alarza. Gomez is No. 1 in the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings, and also has the most experience of his compatriots in Olympic competitions. One of the most consistent athletes ever to hit ITU racing, he won the silver medal in the 2012 London Olympic Games and finished fourth in the 2008 Beijing Games.

In the swim
While Gomez and Brownlee are strong in every discipline, Mola often suffers a deficit out of the swim. The waves and warm water temperatures at Copacabana Beach present even more of a challenge for the rising Spaniard to make the lead group out of the water, which could be crucial to success before hitting the hilly and technical bike course.
Along with Gomez and Brownlee, expect expert swimmers such as Richard Varga, (SVK) Henri Schoeman (RSA), brothers Dmitry Polyanskiy and Igor Polyanskiy (RUS), Dorian Coninx (FRA), and Vincent Luis (FRA) will likely head up the 75-man field out of the one-lap ocean swim.

Up they go
The Rio bike course is like no other. It’s technical, it’s narrow, and it’s hilly. A course that carouses along the Copacabana before turning up into narrow neighborhood roads, it will crush legs, burn lungs and could just end the race for some athletes before it’s really begun. If that lead group gets out of the water with a sizeable gap, all of the men are strong enough on the bike to keep the chase at bay.

Run for Rio
As the last discipline, nothing is over until the 10km run is done and the game always changes when its just feet pounding on the pavement. While Mola and Richard Murray (RSA) could lag behind, Murray is also an incredible cyclist that’s known to bridge up. If he doesn’t get the job done on the bike, look for these two training partners to pick off men as soon as they rack their bikes, as they are two of the fastest runners out there. Vinent Luis, David Hauss (FRA), Mola, Gomez and Brownlee are also amongst the quickest runners on the circuit. If there’s no gap off the bike and these men hit the second transition together, the crowds are in for a fight that will delight.

History on their side
The only other name to have Olympic podium success on the start list is Sven Riederer (SUI), who earned the bronze medal in the 2004 Athens Games.

For those looking for rich history however, look to none other than USA’s Hunter Kemper. He has competed in every single Olympic Games that triathlon has been a part of, dating back to the 2000 Sydney Games. Qualifying for a spot on the US team for Rio would grant Kemper his fifth-straight Olympic appearance. Likewise two-time Olympian Courtney Atkinson (AUS) opted to halt his long distance triathlon career in lieu of another chance at Olympic glory at 35 years old this season.

Road to Rio already a reality
A ticket for Mexico is already punched, thanks to the Pan American Games victory from Crisanto Grajales. Reiderer has also fulfilled his National Federation’s requirements to head to Rio, while Gordon Benson earned Great Britain a spot in Rio with his win at the Baku European Games. Japan qualified Yuichi Hosoda at the 2015 New Tapei ASTC Triathlon Asian Championships.

Men’s start list
How to watch
The elite men will race at 12:15pm on Sunday, 2 August 2015. Click here for international start times.
Live timing will be offered for the paratriathlon races on triathlon.org/live. We will also offer play by play updates on twitter at @triathlonlive, as well as views of the race on Periscope at @worldtriathlon. While there will be no live broadcasts of the races, highlights will be included on the magazine show on August 13 on TriathlonLive.TV

Courtesy ITU

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