In the third stop of the 2017 World Triathlon Series the elites triathletes head to Japan to return to the familiar event of the 2018 ITU World Triathlon Yokohama, which this year will also mark the start of the road to Tokyo 2020 Olympics. With the elite women racing over an Olympic distance, and only two weeks after Flora Duffy‘s “coronation” on her own country, 52 women will try to get the first ranking points on the long and exciting road to Tokyo 2020.
Topping the women’s start list will be indeed the Bermudian Flora Duffy, who has had a month of April that will be hard to forget. Duffy claimed gold in the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Australia, with a solid performance, to then shine as only she can do and executed a perfect race to claim the first-ever WTS Bermuda 15 days ago, with thousands of spectators cheering her name.
With that in mind, the double World Champion will have to remember that the course in Yokohama is not as hard as the streets of Bermuda, but is quite technical and slippery when wet, so she will have to demonstrate her magnificent bike skills to try to be, once more, on the podium in Yokohama.
But possibly Duffy’s biggest threat to her crown this year is going to come from the local triathletes. With Juka Sato, Juko Takahashi, Juri Ide and Ai Ueda toeing the start line in their home nation, the Japanese will be one strong squad to beat, and have shown in the last couple of races that their bike skills and running style have improved consistently.
Another strong squad aiming for glory in Yokohama will be the Americans, with again a really strong team headed by the current Series leader, Kirsten Kasper, and the bronze medallist in WTS Bermuda, Katie Zaferes. Both of them strong bikers and phenomenal runners, they are among the few athletes capable to keep up with the frantic rhythm that Flora will most likely impose since the first strokes of the swim. Also a great swimmer, Summer Cook can be included in this pack.
And making her return to the Series after a bitter fifth place in the Commonwealth Games will be Ashleigh Gentle, one of the strongest runners of the field, and who will be going this weekend for her sixth Yokohama, with two second places already on her bucket.
Another one to watch will be the winner of the first race of the season in Abu Dhabi, Dutch Rachel Klamer, who finished in 12th place in Bermuda but has been working in the last day on her transitions to try to avoid the problems she had in the previous race.
Always reliable on WTS events are also the Brits, who will be represented in Yokohama by Jodie Stimpson and Non Stanford. Italian Alice Betto, who had an extraordinary race in Yokohama last season, will surely try to improve that performance and get on the podium, as will do the young Portuguese Melanie Santos, who has had one of the most impressive starts of the season in the women’s field.
The women will get the 2018 ITU World Triathlon Yokohama underway at 10:06 on Saturday, May 12, local time. Follow all of the action live at triathlonlive.tv and on twitter @triathlonlive. Join the conversation with the hashtag #WTSYokohama