The 2013 international triathlon season gets underway this weekend with the first round of the ITU World Triathlon Series (WTS) in Auckland, New Zealand.
The Series features seven rounds between now and the end of August followed by a Grand Final in London in September, which will decide the 2013 world champions.
Britain’s Jodie Stimpson will hope for a strong start to the 2013 Series having finished fifth in the Grand Final race in Auckland last October. The 24 year old is part of a small team of four British athletes in Auckland. She has already enjoyed some early season successes as part of her winter preparations in Australia.
She commented: “I’m very happy to be back in Auckland. The race here last year was a great way to end the year. I am excited to race the first WTS of the season, and starting it off in Auckland on one of the tough races will be challenging and exciting all in one.”
Joining her on the start line will be Series debutant, Katie Hewison. A former ITU Duathlon World Champion, Hewison has been training alongside Stimpson in Australia.
She said: “This will be the first major race of 2013 for me, and I’m really looking forward to it with it also being my first start in a WTS race.
“Although I am not 100% fit yet, Auckland will be a good hit out to see where I am against the best girls in the world. I see this year as a development year where I hope to gain skills, experience, and improve as an all round world class triathlete, with Auckland being my first stepping stone.”
London 2012 Olympian, Stuart Hayes, returns to international action having also spent the winter in Australia. The 33 year old from Twickenham will be one of the most experienced athletes in the men’s line up, which features Olympic silver medallist, Javier Gomez.
The challenging, hilly course in central Auckland should suit Hayes, who is known for his tactical expertise. Former U23 world champion, Matt Sharp, will want to be in the right place to benefit from racing alongside Hayes as he continues his transition to full senior international competition.
British Triathlon’s new Performance Director, Brendan Purcell, has joined the team in Auckland and will look for intelligent racing strategies from the athletes as they aim to qualify for the Grand Final in London in September. Points accumulated from the best four WTS performances during the season determine who qualifies to race at the Olympic venue in Hyde Park.
The Series continues later this month in San Diego, where a larger team of seven British triathletes, including the Brownlee brothers, is set to race, 18-20 April. The Grand Final will take place in London’s Hyde Park, 11-15 September.
The Barfoot&Thompson World Triathlon Auckland will be televised live on the BBC Red Button and via http://triathlonlive.tv during Friday night (men’s race: 12.06am, women’s race 3:06am). There will be a highlights package available on BBC2 at 1:55pm.
British triathletes racing in Auckland:
Katie Hewison, 27, Chorley, coached by Darren Smith
Jodie Stimpson, 24, Birmingham, coached by Darren Smith
Stuart Hayes, 33, Twickenham, coached by Michelle Dillon
Matt Sharp, 23, Enfield, coached by Mark Pearce