With just three ITU World Cup races left in the 2014 season, action speeds up in hot and humid Cozumel, Mexico this weekend with a splash and dash sprint race. The race will see the return of Olympic gold and bronze medallists Nicola Spirig (SUI) and Erin Densham (AUS) on the women’s side, while breakout star Joao Pereira (POR) headline’s the men’s event.
Although rising talent Katie Hursey (USA) leads the women’s startlist, she will have stiff competition with last year’s Cozumel winner Nicola Spirig returning. After taking time out to start a family and concentrate on athletics the last two years, Spirig may be out of triathlon practice but not out of form. The London Olympic gold medallist competed at European Championships in the marathon meaning she no doubt has a strong aerobic base - though that may not lend itself to this weekend’s fast paced racing.
Despite just two years to her credit as a triathlete, Hursey has already made a name for herself as one to watch. In her first season, she scored two World Cup wins and opened this year in the same fashion in New Plymouth when she beat out a top field over a sprint distance.
Mexico’s own Claudia Rivas will put up a fight as a tough swimmer and massively improved biker. She finished fourth here last year and will aim for the podium in front of a home crowd. It was Lisa Perterer (AUT) who just edged out Rivas last year and the Austrian will be back in the lineup this weekend.
Erin Densham’s appearance at ITU racing in the last two years has been scarce but she’ll test her fitness this weekend. If in form, count her in for a top finish. The Aussie will be joined by fellow veteran Ainhoa Murua (ESP), who can challenge in all three disciplines. Be on the lookout for Lindsey Jerdonek (USA) and Carolina Routier (ESP) to push the pace on the swim and bike to get the day going.
Joao Pereira enjoyed a breakout season with two podium World Triathlon Series podiums that saw him finish fifth overall in the rankings this year. Most powerful over a sprint distance course, Pereira’s speed on the back of a 5km run makes him dangerous.
Dmitry Polyanskiy (RUS) looked on point for a strong finish in Alanya, Turkey last weekend but a crash splintered the lead group and shut down the Russian’s hopes of a podium. He’ll want to redeem himself this weekend and will be a player on all three disciplines, especially out of the swim.
Sven Riederer (SUI) staved off the competition in similar weather conditions as Cozumel last weekend with a speedy run in Turkey. Look for him to join Pereira as a contender if he’s in the lead group off the bike. Likewise, Mexico’s own Crisanto Grajales can pull off a high finish when he puts all three disciplines together.
Wildcards include Brazil’s Reinaldo Colucci, who impressed in Edmonton in a three-man break on the bike, and France’s Aurélien Lescure, who led a four-man French press around the 10km run course in Alanya. David Hauss (FRA) also returns after a year derailed by an early season race crash.
The women will open the day at 9:00am local time, while the men finish off the racing at 11:00am. Tune in for live timing at triathlon.org/live and follow twitter at @triathlonlive for updates.