By Erin Greene on 27/03/13 at 11:53 am
8 Cities. 2 Champions. Countless Moments.
After more than five months of waiting, the countdown until the launch of the 2013 ITU World Triathlon Series is set to just days. Eight races will touch down in four continents from April to September, with some twists and turns planned for various familiar race courses. Athletes will vie for critical points necessary for a spot on the start list at the London Grand Final where they will compete on the same course as the 2012 Olympians.
2013 World Triathlon Schedule
Auckland, New Zealand April 6-7
San Diego, USA April 19-20
Yokohama, Japan May 11-12
Madrid, Spain June 1-2
Kitzbuhel, Austria July 6
Hamburg, Germany July 21-22
Stockholm, Sweden August 24-25
London, England September 11-15
This year, action picks up right where it left off with the 2013 season opener kicking off where 2012 wrapped up. If the racing in October is any indicator, Auckland will set the season off with a high standard of competition. Not only do triathlon-enthusiastic New Zealanders create an electric race atmosphere, the epic hills will give triathletes their first burn that hurts so good. Last year, in an uncharacteristic sprint, Javier Gomez out ran Jonathan Brownlee for the win, while Anne Haug earned her first World Triathlon Series win with a beastly run.
“It’s a home crowd, a home course, it’s been made for us with the choppy swim in the harbour and then all the hills on the bike,” said New Zealander Andrea Hewitt. “Not many athletes in the world like such steep hills but New Zealanders were renowned for liking the hills and it just suits our style of racing. The run is a lot flatter than the bike, so it just makes for a fast race and a hard race the whole way.”
San Diego – The birthplace of triathlon
After its incredible debut on the WTS calendar last year, San Diego is second up on the list of races for 2013. While Jonathan scored his first WTS title last year, big brother Alistair and longtime rival Gomez have already signed up for the beach-side race this year. The course remains unchanged, with athletes set to take off in Mission Bay followed by a scenic bike and run along La Jolla, Mission Beach and Pacific Beach. Age groupers, however, will have the chance to ride over sections of the first-ever triathlon bike course on Fiesta Island. Now there’s something to party about.
Yokohama – High speeds in the harbor
The World Triathlon Series hits Asia next with its fourth appearance in Yokohama. The port city is an athlete favourite, largely due to the enthusiastic throngs of Japanese spectators who pour out to take part in the triathlon action. While the course is flat, it’s chalk full of technically-challenging corners. Joao Silva has twice etched his name in the Yokohama history books with consecutive wins in 2011 and 2012. Last year also saw electric battles, as it was the penultimate race to score critical World Triathlon Series points ahead of the 2012 Grand Final.
“Yokohama is a much easier in terms that it is completely flat but technically is complicated as well, with lots of corners - there is a lot of times that you have to accelerate and break, accelerate and break and you feel that in your legs,” said two-time Olympian Javier Gomez. “Their spectators there are very so enthusiastic, the Japanese people are great and I feel great racing in Japan. Also the heat is key in that race - it’s usually very hot and humid and you need to drink a lot off the bike and try to save energy for the run.”
Madrid - Hot and hilly in the park
Madrid is known for its tough bike course that requires athletes to climb a 12% grade hill eight times in scenic Casa de Campo. The Brownlees have dominated the podium in the men’s race in recent years, with Alistair taking the top spot three times. Last year, with Alistair absent from the line-up, Jonathan took over the family tradition when he crossed the finish line first. The long-running age-group race in Madrid is also a popular one for amateur Spanish triathletes, as they get to race on the same tough course as the Elite athletes in Casa de Campo park.
Kitzbuhel – Possibly the world’s toughest triathlon
After hitting up the hill in Madrid, athletes will be in for another lung burning, leg crushing race when they get to Kitzbuhel. Although this will mark the fifth time the Austrian city has hosted a WTS race, this year the course is getting a facelift. The 2013 race will break from the traditional standard distance that athletes are accustomed to. After completing a 750m swim, triathletes will cycle through the village and then begin an ascent of 867 meters over 11.5km of hairpin mountain roads before facing another 136-meter incline on the 2.5km run. Amateur athletes who enter the age-group race will have the opportunity to tackle the same 1km total climb and compare their times against the best elite athletes in the world. There’s no question about it. This one’s going to hurt.
“I have never ridden up Kitzbuhler horn, so I can’t say a lot about the climb,” said Olympic silver medallist Lisa Norden. “But I would most probably have nightmares about it if I had to do it in a World Series race. It’s going to be the race of pain for sure.”
Hamburg – The world’s biggest triathlon
Hamburg is the longest-standing venue on the ITU calendar, having hosted events since 2002. With 10,000 age group athletes having raced last year, it’s safe to say this is no doubt one of the world’s biggest triathlons. The entire city of Hamburg shuts down for the event, which is no easy feat considering it is the second largest city in Germany. Despite its longevity, the Hamburg course got a makeover last year, with the event reduced to a fast and furious sprint. After such a successful event, the sprint race format will return again this year. Hamburg will also host the 2013 ITU Mixed Team Relay World Championships. Great Britain will again be the team to beat, as they repeated as the World Champions in the four-person team event last year.
Stockholm - It’s simply beautiful
The 700-year-old city of Stockholm was one of three new cities to appear on the WTS circuit last season, becoming the 15th ITU World Triathlon Series host. Last year’s sprint race added an extra technical twist with the course crossing over Stockholm’s beautiful cobbled stone roads. Sweden’s own Norden stormed to gold on home soil shortly after earning her silver medal at the Olympics. This year, Stockholm will be upgraded to the standard Olympic distance, providing twice the distance for twice the excitement.
London – Where history is made
Last year, the London course, which starts with a one-lap 1.5km swim in The Serpentine in Hyde Park, before a 7-lap 40km bike that circles Buckingham Palace and a 4-lap, 10km run that finishes in Hyde Park, became legendary as the world’s top triathletes competed for Olympic gold. Great Britain’s Brownlee brothers earned their country its first triathlon Olympic medals ever, while the women’s race came down to a nail-biting down to the line sprint photo finish between Nicola Spirig and Norden. While Olympic champions were decided last year, this year the event will crown the overall 2013 world champions. London will also host the Under23, junior, paratriathlon and aquathlon world championship races, as well as welcome thousands of age group athletes to compete on the same course as the 2012 Olympians. History was made there last year and it will be made yet again in September.