It is the first World Cup of the 2011 ITU season and a host of international stars are out to welcome the new triathlon year on Australia’s Sunshine Coast. In the men’s field, reigning world champion Javier Gomez kicks off his season, but Australia’s Brad Kahlefeldt and Courtney Atkinson both race well in Mooloolaba and would love to one up Gomez early in the season.
The women’s field boasts five members of the ITU Gold Group, Emma Snowsill, Emma Moffatt, Lisa Norden, Kate Roberts and Paula Findlay, as well as highly credentialed contenders like Barbara Riveros Diaz and previous winners Kirsten Sweetland and Vendula Frintova.
As 2011 is the only full season of Olympic qualifying races, every World Cup, Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series race and Continental Championship has points on offer so expect the racing to be fast and furious from the very start.
About the race:
Mooloolaba is small beachside community on Australia’s Sunshine Coast, an hour north of Brisbane. The Olympic distance event is the centrepiece of a three-day multisport festival, with 9000 competitors participating. The course starts with a swim in the Pacific Ocean, while the bike leg takes in the green hinterland, followed by a run that has ocean views the entire way. It’s the fifth straight year Mooloolaba will open the ITU World Cup season.
Elite women start – Sunday, March 27 – 12:45pm (UTC/GMT + 10) Click here for time in your area
Elite men start – Saturday, March 26 – 3:00pm (UTC/GMT + 10) Click here for time in your area
Live video coverage from Mooloolaba will be available on race day at triathlonlive.tv. Follow @triathlonlive on Twitter for text updates on race day.
TOTAL PRIZE MONEY:
$50,000 USD (equal for men & women)
Swim – One-lap, 1.5-kilometre sea swim with a beach start.
Bike – Seven-lap, 40-kilometre leg that coasts along the Mooloolaba waterfront.
Run – Four-lap, 10-kilometre run along the waterfront.
STORIES TO WATCH FOR:
The 2011 debut of Team ITU – Team ITU is one of the ITU’s Elite Athlete Development Programme’s key projects. Its goal is to provide support, resources and expertise to elite athletes from developing National Federations to compete at the highest level. The team includes: Elizabeth Bravo of Ecuador, Mateja Simic of Slovenia, Alexsandr Latin of Estonia, Leonoardo Chacon of Costa Rica and Ron Darmon of Israel.
Gomez starts his season – Javier Gomez has fared well in Mooloolaba, having won the race in 2008. Since then, he’s gone from top-contender to conqueror winning two world championships. The 2010 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Champion will officially start the 2011 season as the man to watch. There is also a nice bonus for Gomez if he can triumph in the first race of the season, he’s in sight of second place on the all-time World Cup winners list. Gomez and Sydney Olympic gold medallist Simon Whitfield are currently tied with 12 wins each. Australia’s Brad Beven is the all-time leading men’s World Cup winner, with 17 race titles to his name.
Aussie Assault – But Gomez won’t have it all his own way with two Australians keen to knock him off the top of the podium. Brad Kahlefeldt and Courtney Atkinson have each won Mooloolaba titles and will be keen to kickstart the crucial 2011 season with a win. They could also both move-up the same all-time list. Atkinson currently has seven World Cup titles and a win would take him to equal fifth all-time. Kahlefeldt, who was Australia’s highest-ranked male in last year’s Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series, currently has six World Cup wins under his belt and a win would put in him tied for sixth all-time.
An Emma Trifecta – Think of Australian triathlon over the past three years and two names immediately spring to mind, Emma Snowsill and Emma Moffatt. Snowsill won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2010 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Grand Final, while Moffatt has won the overall World Championship title for the past two seasons. They will both compete in Mooloolaba and are rightly favourites. But in 2011 – get set for triple Aussie Emma action. Emma Jackson won the world under23 title in 2010 and while still only 19, but has decided to compete on the elite ITU circuit in 2011 and will be sure to make an impact.
PAST MOOLOOLABA WINNERS:
2010 Vendula Frintova (CZE) Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS)
2009 Kirsten Sweetland (CAN) Courtney Atkinson (AUS)
2008 Emma Snowsill (AUS) Javier Gomez (ESP)
2007 Emma Snowsill (AUS) Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS)
2006 Annabel Luxford (AUS) Bevan Docherty (NZL)
2005 Loretta Harrop (AUS) Simon Thompson (AUS)