ITU’s Auckland preview

2013 ITU World Triathlon Series starts in New Zealand this weekend

It marked the end of the World Triathlon Series last year, with a thrilling Grand Final punctuating an incredible season, but this year Auckland is just the start.

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The 1.5km harbour swim, followed by the eight-lap 40km bike through New Zealand's largest city (complete with three separate climbs per lap) and a fast and technical four-lap 10km run marks the first stop of the 2013 ITU World Triathlon Series. With deep fields on offer in both the elite men's and women's races, it promises to be one worth watching.

UK viewers can see (or record) it on the BBC Red Button this Saturday, 6 April. Or watch it at 1:55pm on the Sunday on BBC2.

Midnight-2am: Women's race

3-5am: Men's race

ABOUT THE RACE

Last year, thousands of athletes descended on Auckland for the thrilling World Championship races, which saw Olympic medallists Jonathan Brownlee and Lisa Norden earn their first overall World Championship titles. Fumika Matsumoto and Wian Sullwald also earned Japan and South Africa their first ever world championship titles in the youth races.

The 2012 World Champions joined a long list of iconic ITU names that have won in Auckland, including Hamish Carter, Miles Stewart, Emma Carney and Michellie Jones. Auckland has become a race favourite amongst athletes for its challenging bike course, while championed by spectators for its near-constant views of triathlon action.

This year, Auckland sets the tone for the 2013 ITU World Triathlon Series as the race series opener. The tough bike will no doubt again play an important factor in deciding who will join the distinguished list of winners in Auckland.    

SCHEDULE

Elite Women 

Saturday 6 April – 15:06pm UTC/GMT +12 Click here for the time in your area

Elite Men

Saturday 6 April – 12:06pm UTC/GMT+12 Click here for the time in your area  

WEBSITES: auckland.triathlon.org

LIVE COVERAGE: ?Follow all the events live through with timing and text updates, at triathlon.org/live and on twitter at @triathlonlive.

Auckland champions return

?Germany's Anne Haug turned on the biggest race of her life in Auckland last year, pulling out a stellar run leg after an equally excellent bike to earn her first major ITU win in the biggest race. The pint-sized star has already started off 2013 exactly where she left off, with a dominating performance in Mooloolaba to claim the first ITU World Cup of the season. In parallels with the women's race, the men's race favourite is the man who took the 2012 Auckland Grand Final title and kickstarted his 2013 season with a win in Mooloolaba, Javier Gomez. The London Olympics silver medallist had one of his most memorable races in Auckland last year, just pipping Jonathan Brownlee to claim his first Grand Final series win.

Home advantage

It's hard to discount the strong Kiwi team racing at home, with multiple series winner Andrea Hewitt leading the way. Hewitt dominated the course to win the ITU World Cup event here in 2011, and Nicky Samuels and Kate McIlroy also have a racing style that suits this course. Also keep an eye out for ITU legend Samantha Warriner, the seven-time World Cup winner is making her return to racing after the birth of her daughter last year. In the men's race, New Zealanders have won three out of the six events held in Auckland. Ryan Sissons is likely the Kiwi's biggest hope to continue the winning trend.  

PAST AUCKLAND WINNERS 

2012 ITU World Triathlon Series

Anne Haug (GER)            Javier Gomez (ESP)

2011 ITU Triathlon World Cup

Andrea Hewitt (NZL)         Kris Gemmell (NZL)

1998 ITU Triathlon World Cup   

Michellie Jones (AUS)        Hamish Carter (NZL)

1997 ITU Triathlon World Cup   

Emma Carney (AUS)         Miles Stewart (AUS)   

1996 ITU Triathlon World Cup   

Emma Carney (AUS)         Miles Stewart (AUS)

1995 ITU Triathlon World Cup   

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Janet Hatfield (USA)          Hamish Carter (NZL)