By Chelsea White on 27/07/17 at 4:18 am
After running through three continents and five different countries, the 2017 World Triathlon Series embarks on Canada, North America, where for the first time in WTS history the series will have back-to-back event weekends and see two different WTS races held in the same country. For the sixth installment of the circuit, the WTS will hit up Alberta for the 2017 ITU World Triathlon Edmonton before then crossing the nation to Montreal.
Edmonton is set to host the third sprint distance race of the year. The men’s field is loading up with all the best short-course talent to ensure that Saturday’s race will be held at epic proportions.
The top three positions on the overall WTS leaderboard rankings still belong to the Spanish. Mario Mola will line up for the men’s event wearing the familiar golden number. Although he has never won in Edmonton, the sprint distance suits his strengths. He also is coming into the sixth race of the city having just won in Hamburg, which was also a sprint distance event. The performances of Mola this year have been nothing but consistent and flawless, putting him in a prime position to go for a back-to-back World Championship.
While Fernando Alarza (ESP) entered Hamburg as a frontrunner, a bike crash took him out of the running and he wasn’t able to finish the race. So Edmonton will be redemption for the Spaniard, eager to get back the WTS Leader Trophy. Javier Gomez Noya has not been on the WTS podium since Abu Dhabi, but as a seasoned veteran and five-time world champion, he sits comfortably in the third position in the rankings, still leaving sight for a battle for points.
Jonathan Brownlee once again returns to the WTS 2017 season to race in only his third event of the year. After earning the silver medal in Leeds, he then had to miss out last minute in Hamburg. But Brownlee has traveled to Canada to uphold his Edmonton title that he locked in last year. And since the season is in the latter half of the Series, Brownlee still needs to get top notch finishes in every race if he wants a chance at racing for a World Title in the Rotterdam Grand Final.
The Aussie that has been the one to watch this year has been Jacob Birtwhistle. He has been showcasing his talent over the last couple years, but it has been this season where the eyes of the world has really opened up to how much talent Birtwhistle has. His sprint finish in Hamburg in the individual event that landed him a silver medal was impressive, but then he followed up his performance by earning a come from behind victory for Team Australia in the Mixed Relays. The sprint course this weekend is the perfect setting to get him his first gold of the year and of his career.
WTS Edmonton was the site where South Africa’s Richard Murray claimed his first-ever WTS victory in 2015. He also is one to keep an eye on when it comes to a sprint distance race, he is one of the fastest runners in the circuit, so if he exits T2 among the leaders he has a strong fighting chance of getting up on the podium.
While the French have only made a handful of appearances on the WTS podium this year, they still remain as one of the strongest nations in the field. Vincent Luis returned back to ITU racing in Abu Dhabi and got himself the bronze medal and while he has been close to obtaining a second podium, he hasn’t quite gotten there yet. Dorian Coninx had an incredible performance for the French team in Hamburg during the Mixed Relays, putting forth a strong breakaway to put his team in the lead during his leg. If he can do the same for himself on Saturday, he will be among the leaders.
Representing for Team Canada and the local crowd, Tyler Mislawchuk will race his first WTS race of the season. The Rio Olympian raced as a part of the Canadian Mixed Relay team, but saved himself during the individual event. Mislawchuk is young, but is a rising talent for his nation.
Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) is another man to watch on Saturday. Blummenfelt’s strategic plan of coming out of the woodwork when the competition is fierce and down to the wire has worked in his favour. He is a silent threat that overtakes you on the run when it counts, so he is a man that can never be forgotten.
The women will get the 2017 ITU World Triathlon Edmonton underway at 13:06 on Saturday, July 29, while the men will follow right after at 15:06 local time. Follow all of the action live at triathlonlive.tv and on twitter @triathlonlive.
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