The 2011 ITU Triathlon World Cup Series resumes this Sunday as the world’s best gather in beautiful Huatulco in southern Oaxaca, Mexico. More than 110 athletes from 34 countries will line the stunning beach at Santa Cruz bay for the first major ITU event since the World Championship Series Grand Final in Budapest four weeks ago.
Elite Women Preview
Headlining the women’s field is World Championship silver medallist Nicola Spirig of Switzerland, who is in the midst of a phenomenal season which has included a victory in Madrid, bronze in Budapest and her second straight European Championship. Wearing number one in the women’s field is the 2008 World Champion Helen Jenkins who finished 4th in the rankings this year.
Japan’s Ai Ueda returns to Huatulco defend her title from a year ago, which was her first World Cup victory. The 2-time Asian Champion has fared well in Mexico, winning silver earlier this year at the World Cup in Monterrey in addition to last year’s win in Huatulco.
Others to watch include German Ricarda Lisk, former World Cup Series champion Annabel Luxford of Australia and Ukraine’s Yuliya Sapunova who broke through for her first World Cup title in Hungary in August. Sapunova will be racing as a member of Team ITU, an Elite Athlete Development Programme designed to assist athletes from developing National Federations.
For the home team, Mexico will have three women in the field with Claudia Rivas as the top contender. She was the highest ranked Mexican and finished inside the top-10 in Huatulco last year.
Elite Men Preview
On the men’s side, all eyes will be on Javier Gomez to top the podium. The Spaniard had another brilliant season, punctuated by his second career World Championship. Gomez posted wins in Hamburg and London and was a runner-up in Kitzbühel, Budapest and at the European Championships.
While most will be expecting Gomez in the winner’s circle, a host of others will be looking to prove otherwise. Among the contenders are David Hauss of France who had a breakthrough season in 2010, finishing 9th in the rankings and last year’s winner Matt Chrabot of the U.S.
Mexico will field five men in the race with Crisanto Grajales as the strongest contender. He was a silver medallist at the Tiszaujvaros World Cup and finished 2010 ranked higher than any other Mexican.
Completing a 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run, athletes will be vying for their share of the $50,000 USD prize purse as well as ranking points which will count to their 2011 rankings as the 2010 World Championship rankings concluded at the Grand Final.