World Champ points on the line in Yokohama

Gomez and Hewitt set to race in Japan this weekend

With the Grand Final of the ITU World Triathlon Series fast approaching, precious world championship ranking points are at stake at the penultimate stop in Yokohama this weekend.

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Andrea Hewitt (NZL) returns from a short break in racing, making the women's competition more fierce than ever. In contrast, while key players in the men's race are missing, racing will be anything but lacking as athletes gun for important points. 

This year, athletes will start with a two-lap 750km swim in the sea near Osambashi pier. An Olympic distance race, the bike and run legs start and finish in Yamashita park and in and around Yokohama's waterfront. The bike snakes around the giant Cosmo Clock 21 Ferris Wheel, while the run will take athletes around the Kanagawa Prefectural Government Building. ? 

About the race:  

The ITU World Triathlon Series returns to Yokohama for the third time. The series first appeared in Japan in 2009. The Japanese portal city skipped the 2010 series, but it reappeared on the WTS calendar in 2011. Due to the devastating earthquake last year, the event was postponed to later in the year with ranking points counting towards to the 2012 season.  

COURSE PROFILE: ?Sprint Distance

Swim (1500m) – Two-laps for a 1500m swim in the sea near Osambashi pier.

Bike (40km) – Five, 8km laps that begin and end in Yamashita park.The bike snakes around the giant Cosmo Clock 21 Ferris Wheel and Yokohama's waterfront.

Run (10km) – Four 2.5km laps around the Kanagawa Prefectural Government Building

STORIES TO WATCH FOR:  

While some Olympians opted to sit out the last WTS event in Stockholm, others continued racing. Amongst those for the women were then-leader Andrea Hewitt (NZL) and highly-ranked Nicola Spirig (SUI). While Spirig remains absent from the start list in Yokohama, giving opportunity for others to take over her No. 4 ranking, Hewitt returns to action. Hewitt fell second to current leader Erin Densham (AUS), but is back looking for important points leading up to the Grand Final in Hewitt's native New Zealand.

Top-ranked Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) chose to compete in Sweden, but will not appear in Japan. Though he sits with more than a 500-point lead, the move could be risky with several men gunning for his spot. In an equally risky choice, men's second-ranked Alexander Bryukhankov (RUS) removed his name from the start list, giving room for No. 3 Javier Gomez to overtake his number two slot.

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