For the eighth time in World Triathlon Series history, elites head back to Japan to compete in the 2017 ITU World Triathlon Yokohama. Celebrating one of the cities that was one of our first, Yokohama hosts the third stop of the 2017 Series and second standard-distance race of the year.
Always drawing large crowds, Yokohama continues to be a fan and athlete-favorite event. This year, the men’s field returns to battle it out once again in the Harbour.
Topping the men’s start list is the current WTS rankings leader Javier Gomez Noya (ESP). After winning in the season opening race in Abu Dhabi, Gomez proved he is back in action after missing a large part of the 2016 year. Just missing the podium in Gold Coast by coming in fourth, Gomez has a good relationship with Yokohama and has won in the Japanese city both in 2014 and 2015. So, winning for a third time at the same venue could be in the cards for the Spaniard this weekend.
That is of course if he can get by his fellow Spanish compatriots Fernando Alarza and Mario Mola. Alarza outsprinted Gomez on the blue carpet in Gold Coast and continues to prove he is not just the young Spaniard anymore, but rather a threat to some of the older veterans such as Gomez. And of course there is Mola, the current reigning ITU World Champion, who also won in Yokohama last year. He also got back on the leaderboard when he was victorious in Gold Coast, a win he earned on his 50th WTS race of his career.
However, there is one man returning to the WTS who wants to stop the Spanish winning streak. Great Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee is set to race in Yokohama for his first ITU appearance since the infamous Cozumel Grand Final. The World Champion runner-up last season and Olympic silver medallist, fans have been eagerly awaiting the return of Brownlee and to see him seek revenge on the world crown he just nearly missed last year.
Brit Tom Bishop also returns to race in Yokohama after earning his first WTS medal in Abu Dhabi.
Aussies Jacob Birtwhistle and Ryan Baile are top contenders for the weekend. Birtwhistle is one of Australia’s young talent, who qualified for the 2018 Commonwealth Games by finishing fifth in Gold Coast. Baile is a talent on the bike and usually has a good finish.
Other names to watch this weekend include men who have had past success in Yokohama. Last year Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt and Mexico’s Crisanto Grajales debuted on their first WTS podiums in Yokohama. Joao Silva (POR) won in Yokohama in 2011 an 2012, while Russian Alexander Bryukhankov made podium in 2011 as well.
The women will get the 2017 ITU World Triathlon Yokohama underway at 10:00 on Saturday, May 13, while the men will follow on Saturday at 13:00 local time. Follow all of the action live at triathlonlive.tv and on twitter @triathlonlive.
Join the conversation with the hashtag #WTSYokohama