A total of 10 athletes from eight different countries will represent Team ITU at the 2011 ITU Edmonton World Cup this weekend.
Team ITU is an initiative of the ITU’s Sport Development Programme and offers support for athletes from developing and emerging national federations to race at the World Cup level. These athletes are potential elite contenders, but may not otherwise be able to attend these World Cup events. Membership of the team includes funding for travel and accommodation at a race, an elite level coaching team, a physiotherapist and a bike mechanic to give them the same level of race-day support as the elite athletes in the field.
The men’s team is highlighted by young up and coming talent, including Jason Wilson (BAR), Carlos Quinchará (COL), Michel Gonzalez (CUB), Ron Darmon (ISR) and Ognjen Stojanovic (SRB). It is the second elite men’s World Cup event for Wilson, who made his debut in Huatulco last year while Quinchará is coming off a ninth place at the 2011 ITU Monterrey World Cup. It’s the first World Cup event for Gonzalez this year, while Darmon has competed at Mooloolaba, Ishigaki and Monterrey. Stojanovic competed in Ishigaki and since then has added a win to his 2011 titles, at the Cartagena ITU Pan American Cup.
The most experienced member is Christopher Felgate (ZIM), a Beijing Olympian, who has come straight from the 2011 Maputo ATU African Triathlon Championships to race in Edmonton.
The women who will compete for Team ITU in Canada are Elizabeth Bravo (ECU), Fanny Beisaron (ISR), Mateja Simic (SLO) and Yanitza Perez (CUB). Bravo has competed in Mooloolaba and Monterrey this year, as well as the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series races in Sydney and Kitzbühel. Beisaron finished sixth in the women’s race at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games and then went on to win gold in the team triathlon event there, in the Europe 1 team. She made her ITU World Cup debut in Ishigaki this year. Simic competed in Mooloolaba and then podiumed in three European events, in Antalya, Brasschaat and then a sprint European cup in Cremona, while Perez is competing in her first World Cup race in 2011.
“I’m quite confident the team will do quite well,” said coach Mick Delamotte. “The biggest thing I’ve noticed is the level of professionalism in how they’ve prepared coming into this race and I think that’s a credit to the programme and of the home coaches so the coach development side of ITU Sport Development has worked wonders and all the home coaches of these athletes should be congratulated for what they’ve done because they’ve turned up ready to roll.”
The Edmonton World Cup is the second event for Team ITU in 2011, after the team made its 2011 debut with the season opening World Cup in Mooloolaba. The final Team ITU race of the season will be in Auckland, the test event for the 2012 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Grand Final. Past Team ITU graduates include current stars Lisa Norden and Barbara Riveros Diaz.
The head of ITU Development, Libby Burrell, said this is a great chance for athletes not just to race World Cup events - but to take in some iconic triathlon courses.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity that this year Team ITU gets to race in three of the strongest triathlon countries in ITU history, Australia, Canada and New Zealand,” Burrell said. “Particularly in Edmonton, where the appearance of current women’s Dextro Energy Triathlon Series leader and hometown girl Paula Findlay is expected to attract a huge crowd, so these athletes will not just get that valuable elite race experience, but also experience the atmosphere that surrounds some of the biggest races on the ITU calendar.”