For only the second time in ITU history, the World Cup circuit heads to the Italian island of Sardegna for the 2017 Cagliari ITU Triathlon World Cup. Just like last year, the event will feature a sprint course that will see the elites winding around the water port that is meant to ensure some fast and technical racing.
Kirsten Kasper has proven that she one of the top U.S. women to watch this season. She got on the podium in Chengdu with third place, but then hit a career milestone by debuting on her first World Triathlon Series podium in Yokohama. She continues to improve on the course, especially on her run. She will wear the number one this Sunday.
Starting her 2017 world cup calendar is young USA compatriot Taylor Knibb. Knibb, the 2016 Junior World Champion, appeared on the scene last year and made breakthrough headlines when she kept up with World Champ Flora Duffy on a bike breakaway. She earned her first world up podium last year in Montreal. So we will see what she is capable of doing this season this weekend.
When Great Britain’s Lucy Hall competes, she is normally accompanied by her training partner and fellow Brit Jessica Learmonth, but for Cagliari Hall will race solo. Hall is a top swimmer and likes to push it on the bike, but without her dueling partner to go with her it will be interesting to see if she can find an ally out on the course.
Also beginning her 2017 competition season is long-time favourite Lisa Norden (SWE). The 2012 London Olympics silver medallist will be one of the most experienced women racing this weekend. In past years she has had to deal with injury problems, so hopefully we will see a healthy and successful season ahead of her.
Another veteran on the women’s start list is Aussie Erin Densham. Ever since the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, she has kept her racing to the World Cup circuit, so Cagliari will be her third event of the year.
More women to watch out for in Italy is Gillian Sanders (RSA), Jolanda Annen (SUI) and Vendula Frintova (CZE). All women have been finishing well in events this season and are all looking to make it onto their first podiums of the year, which might possibly be this weekend.
The only returning Cagliari medallist from last year is Lisa Perterer (AUT). She earned the bronze medal last year, so has the experience of being successful on this course to her advantage.
Leading the men’s field is South African Henri Schoeman. After having a standout year in 2016, he has been working to regain his place on the competition podium. In the first World Cup race of the year, Schoeman competed in his home nation in Cape Town and earned the silver medal. Since then he has been close to making a podium again finishing fifth at the New Plymouth World Cup and fourth at the World Triathlon Series Yokohama, but is eager to make it within the top three again.
The Spanish rival that the field will see this weekend is young Uxio Abuin Ares. He won his first two career World Cup wins back-to-back last year in Tongyeong and Miyazaki. He is still fresh talent, but is proof that the men’s Spanish team will continue to be a strong nation.
Andreas Schilling (DEN) is going to be a force on the bike. In his past races, he has been one of the men to take chances and breakaway from large packs on the bike. So if he makes it among the leaders, look for him in the front.
The young USA men could be the ones to bring the nation to the forefront. Kevin McDowell has been right outside the World Cup podium twice this season by finishing fourth in Mooloolaba and fifth last weekend in Madrid. Maybe Cagliari will be the spot where he finally gets his first medal for 2017. Another rising U.S. man is Matt Mcelroy. After debuting on the World Cup podium scene last year, he returned by earning the silver medal in New Plymouth. He does well in the sprint distance, so should have a strong finish this Sunday.
Other men on the circuit in Italy that will be fighting for hardware is Simon Viain of France. Viain is the only man returning from last year’s Cagliari podium to reclaim his spot. He earned the bronze last year and is also coming off of earning a bronze medal in Madrid last weekend, so his momentum and experience could be an advantage. There is also Canadian Tyler Mislawchuk. He earned a bronze medal in Chengdu this season and is the future of men’s triathlon for his nation.
The women will get the 2017 Cagliari ITU Triathlon World Cup underway with the first race starting at 10:30 on Sunday, June 04, while the men will follow at 12:30 local time. Follow all of the action with live timing at triathlon.org/live and on twitter @triathlonlive using hashtag #CagliariWC.