The International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Cup season continues this weekend in the sport-loving city of Miyazaki, Japan, the idyllic location for another dose of world-class, standard-distance triathlon action, featuring some of the sport’s top athletes and two packed fields, racing for World Cup success and valuable Olympic points.
Elite men’s preview
Belgium’s Jelle Geens will headline Saturday’s World Cup in Miyazaki. Geens led the field onto the line in last weekend’s World Cup in Tongyeong however the Belgian was disappointed with his performance where he was forced to retire from the race.
“Well I had a hard few days where I felt really tired. It’s been a long season and the last 2 weeks have been pretty hard. This week, I didn’t do so much and just tried to recover. I’ll see how I feel on Saturday and might race a bit more tactical. I do think my shape is still great but I slightly overdid it last week before travelling to Asia. I hope after this easy week I’m back at my full potential,” said Geens.
2019 Tongyeong World Cup champion Matthew McElroy from the USA will be among the men to watch come Saturday. McElroy has produced a strong season where he claimed the bronze medal in the Nur-Sultan World Cup and a career defining silver medal result in Leeds World Triathlon Series race.
McElroy’s fellow American and training partner Eli Hemming will also line-up and be among the World Cup action in Japan. Hemming has had a consistent season with a World Cup win in Tiszaujvaros and crossed the line in fifth position in the recent Tongeyong World Cup. Portugal’s Joao Pereira is among the top-seeded men starting n Miyazaki.
Australian Olympian Aaron Royle is looking for a notable World Cup result in Japan, to support his 2020 Olympic campaign and maintain his position within the top-30 elite men on the World Triathlon Series rankings. Fellow Australian and Olympian Ryan Bailie joins Royle as a contender to deliver across the standard-distance course.
Castro produced an impressive silver medal performance and stepped onto the World Cup podium in Tongyeong last weekend.
With beach start to commence the standard-distance race in Miyazaki, the renowned swim specialists including Richard Varga from Slovakia and Mark Devay from Hungary will be motivated to establish an early lead on the field, across the 1500m open-water course.
Delian Stateff, representing Italy, claimed the bronze medal in Miyazaki in 2018. Stafeff posted a top ten finish in Tiszaujvaros earlier in the World Cup season and will be looking for redemption in the World Cup battle.
Elite women’s preview
Belgium headlines both race fields in the World Cup in Miyazaki with Claire Michel at the top of the elite women’s start list. Michel, posting a consistent series of top-ten performances in Series races across 2019, earned World Cup bronze last weekend in Tongyeong and is a fixed favourite heading into Miyazaki. The race on Saturday will close the long season of triathlon compeition for the Belgian.
“With the beach start and the waves, it can be a hard swim so with many fast swimmers in the field it will be important to stay focussed and maintain as close contact as I can to front group. I will be doing the best as I can to get as close the podium as possible,” Michel said.
Defending champion Ai Ueda, from Japan, returned from injury with an encouraging race performance in Tongyeong last week, which saw her claim the bronze medal. Ueda is a serious contender for the podium heading into Saturday’s World Cup and claims to be “eager and ready to defend her title”.
Fellow triathlete Yuko Takahashi will wear number two in Miyazaki. Takahashi trains in Europe for majority of the year, in the same high performance triathlon squad as Michel and will want to perform well in front of a home crowd in Japan.
Olympic champion Nicola Spirig will line up once again on a World Cup starting line. Spirig dominated the bike portion of the World Cup race in Tongyeong and finished in fifth position in a field of strong sprint specialists. Saturday will likely tell a different race tale, as the Swiss triathlete tests her striking form across the Olympic distance race format.
USA triathlete Tamara Gorman (USA) is another woman eager to make an impact on the race. Gorman has delivered a consistent season, posting multiple World Cup podium finishes.
Fellow American triathlete Kirsten Kasper is another strong contender on the starting line in the elite women’s race. Kasper is yet to step onto a podium in 2019 so is extremely motivating leading into Saturday’s race with valuable Olympic points on the line.
Sandra Dodet from France lines up in Miyazaki following a confidence boosting performance in Tongyeong, where she was awarded the gold medal.
Miriam Casillas from Spain, silver medallist in the recent Weihai World Cup, is eager to cap her season with another podium result. Italy’s Verena Steinhauser, bronze medallist in Weihai, is another experienced athlete who, if she is tactical with her set-up, could run her way into podium contention. The aim of these women will be to establish an early lead on the likes of Spirig and Ueda, to avoid having to fight for placement with the masses.
After almost a year off with injury in 2018, New Zealand’s Anneke Jenkins produced an encouraging performance in Tongyeong to race into sixth position and will line-up to race once again in Miyazaki.
FOLLOW THE ATHLETES AND RACE LIVE
The field is stacked with 50 talented and experienced elite women, vying for World Cup success in Miyazaki. Race start will be at 9.30am (local time) on Saturday, 26 October.
Review the elite women’s start list.
tagsnicola spirig ai ueda rodrigo gonzalez richard varga aaron royle yuko takahashi claire michel david castro fajardo jelle geens