Over 100 of the world’s fastest triathletes will converge on West Des Moines, Iowa this Sunday in hopes of grabbing their share of the largest triathlon prize purse in the world. With a total of $1 million up for grabs, and $200,000 going to both the male and female winners, the fourth annual Hy-Vee ITU Triathlon Elite Cup is sure to be one of the most exciting events of the season. The stacked start list includes three Olympic gold medallists, four former world champions and the current number one ranked male and female triathletes in the world.
Headlining the men’s field is returning champion Simon Whitfield of Canada, who won a thrilling, five-man sprint finish at last year’s event. If the 2000 Olympic gold medallist wants to repeat in Des Moines, he’ll have to top 2008 Olympic champion Jan Frodeno of Germany, who is only five weeks removed from winning the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Seoul.
While both Whitfield and Frodeno have been solid so far this season, no man has been more consistent than Russian youngster Alexander Brukhankov, who currently sits atop the world rankings. The 23-year old will be joined by teammate Dmitry Polyansky, who is currently ranked second in the world. The Russian duo is renowned for their swimming ability and will no doubt look to push the pace early in the race.
The American men’s team will be led by Matt Chrabot and Jarrod Shoemaker, currently ranked ninth and tenth, respectively. They’ll be joined by three-time Olympian Hunter Kemper, 2008 Olympian Matt Reed and Des Moines native TJ Tollakson.
Others to keep an eye on in the men’s race include Australians Brad Kahlefeldt and Courtney Atkinson, and New Zealanders Kris Gemmell and Bevan Docherty. Veteran Australian Greg Bennett will be competing under an ITU flag after being granted a release from Triathlon Australia to compete for the United States in the build up to the 2012 Olympic Games. Bennett is a dual citizen Australia and the U.S.
In the women’s race, all eyes will be on returning champion Emma Moffatt, who blew away the field at last year’s event. Moffatt is coming off of a remarkable 2009 season, in which she won four Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series events. Perhaps he biggest competition will come from teammate and 2008 Olympic gold medallist Emma Snowsill, who finished as the runner-up in Des Moines last season.
Moffatt and Snowsill will have to contend with newcomer Barbara Riveros Diaz who has been brilliant so far in the 2010 season. The 22-year-old Chilean currently leads the world rankings after winning the Series opener and Sydney and finishing second in Seoul. Riveros Diaz finished 11th in Des Moines in 2009.
The American women’s team will be led by veteran Laura Bennett, who won the inaugural Hy-Vee event in 2007, and Sarah Haskins, who is currently ranked fourth in the world.
Other’s to watch in the women’s race include Kiwi Andrea Hewitt, Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf and Great Britain’s Helenk Jenkins.
Hy-VeeTriathlon.com will carry a live video stream of all the weekend’s events. Be sure to tune in at 12:30pm local time for the women’s race and 3:30pm for the men’s contest.