For the second year in a row, the elites head down under to Australia to compete in the second stop of the 2017 World Triathlon Series. This year, the 2017 Jewel World Triathlon Gold Coast will host the first sprint-distance course of the year, offering up the chance to unveil who is the first athlete of the season to outrace the competition on the shorter yet faster stage.
Both the men and the women will line up on Saturday, April 8 with the women kick starting the race day with a 14:00 start time. The men will then follow at 16:00 local time.
After the incredible sprint finish in the WTS season opener in Abu Dhabi that landed her the first gold medal of the season, it will be Andrea Hewitt (NZL) who tops the women’s start list. While Hewitt is known as one of the more consistent athletes on the circuit as she finishes in the top tier in the majority of her races, she had not been able to achieve WTS gold since 2011. Now having gotten back to the top of the podium, it will be a test to see if she can stay there.
In Abu Dhabi, Hewitt outsprinted Great Britain’s Jodie Stimpson in the final seconds on the blue carpet. But while she just missed out on the win, it was Stimpson who had one of the stronger performances of the day. Her cycling abilities during the event were outstanding as she singlehandedly merged the chase pack with the leaders and pushed the tempo for the rest of the race. After the WTS opener it was clear that Stimpson is going to be a real threat this season, so it will be exciting to watch and see what she has up her sleeve for Saturday’s competition. Stimpson also lines up in Gold Coast as the 2014 Commonwealth Games Champion, and as the countdown to the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast hit the one year mark, it will be exciting to see the reigning Champ compete at the same venue as she will compete at next year.
The local crowd has a group of local Aussie talent that can be anticipated to do well this weekend. Gillian Backhouse, Charlotte McShane and Ashleigh Gentle are three rising Aussie talent in the women’s field that are ready to continue the Australian legacy of strong females. Especially in the absence of Olympian Emma Moffart, who announced her retirement after that season, there is a space to fill for who is the top Aussie woman. Backhouse finished sixth in Abu Dhabi, which is a climb back up the ladder after some mid-roster finishes in 2016. Training partners McShane and Gentle both have WTS podium success, so it just becomes a matter of who can be the first Aussie woman to get a medal for this season.
But another nation who is bringing the heat is the USA. Last weekend at the New Plymouth World Cup, six U.S. women finished in the top ten, one of which, Katie Zaferes, won the event. Zaferes is easily becoming one of the top U.S. women, especially after winning her first WTS race last year in Hamburg, which was also a sprint race. She excels on the shorter course and will without a doubt be a huge contender in Gold Coast. Summer Cook, Kirsten Kasper and Sarah True were among the New Plymouth finishers, all of whom have potential for this weekend.
Japan’s Ai Ueda put forth one of the best runs in Abu Dhabi, despite her 5th place finish. She has the ability to run down any competition, so if she makes it into the lead bike path the women are going to have a hard time shaking her off on the run.
Rachel Klamer (NED) is another woman this weekend to look out for. She finished just off the podium in Abu Dhabi, but is another athlete that does well in sprint races. She is a strong swimmer and biker and if given enough of a lead going into the run, she can hold off her competition to get onto the podium.
The women will get the 2017 Jewel World Triathlon Gold Coast underway at 14:00 on Saturday, April 8, while the men will follow on Saturday at 16:00 local time. Follow all of the action live at triathlonlive.tv and on twitter @triathlonlive. Trifecta is here again this year with new features. Create a new login and pick your favourites now at trifecta.usatriathlon.org.
Join the conversation with the hashtag #WTSGoldCoast