For twenty years, the German city of Hamburg has been welcoming the top tier of international triathlon, but never before has it hosted twice within the same Series calendar year. That is the twist of fortune that came out of 2021’s pandemic disruption, the 2022 world title chase kicking off here back in September and leading us back to what has established itself as one of the most eagerly awaited stops on the circuit for another almighty weekend of swim-bike-run in this magnificent city.
Once again the sprint-distance course starts with a 750m swim in the Binnenalster lake that features a dark, 40m tunnel section under the pedestrian bridge on the way back towards an imposing transition area in front of the city’s iconic Rathaus. From there, it’s a flat and technical 6-lap bike of 21km before the 2-lap run brings another 5km of high drama to decide the medals. You can watch the action unfold on TriathlonLive.tv from 3.30pm CEST this Saturday.
Wearing the number one will be Leo Bergere, the king of consistency this season. The Frenchman has finished on the podium in every race so far this year, but has still to land his first gold in a World Triathlon Championship Series event - Hamburg looks like a race in which he can definitely achieve that big milestone. It was right here in that the current Maurice Lacroix Championship Series Ranking leader stepped onto the WTCS podium for the first time back in 2019, and Bergere’s recent displays suggest he is more than ready to fight for the win.
Bergere’s lead at the top of the Series Ranking may allow him to race with less pressure this weekend in Hamburg, but on his tail is New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde, another athlete that has proven to be in great form finishing on the podium at the three previous WTCS races: silver in Yokohama, gold in Leeds and silver again two weeks ago in Montreal. Always one to watch over the sprint and super-sprint formats, the Kiwi knows that if he finishes in the top 5 and ahead of Bergere, he will be the new Series leader, precious extra motivation - if any were needed - for him to collect his first Hamburg medal.
The battle between the two promises to be an epic one, even more so taking into account some of the names on the start list that will not make it easy for either of them. One of them will be Vincent Luis (FRA), the two-time World Champion who knows what it is to win in Hamburg, having done so twice before and being back on the city centre course that suits Luis perfectly. This will be the tenth time that Vincent has lined up by the Binnenalster lake, in which time he has collected two golds, one silver and two bronze in the individual races alone. But after an unlucky beginning of the season, he is more than willing to turn the cards and get some good points to kick on to the second half of the season.
Hamburg will be the perfect set up for the much-awaited comeback of one of triathlon’s super stars: Mario Mola (ESP). The triple World Champion and recent father is back on the circuit after the Tokyo Olympics having taken a few months off racing, but Hamburg is indeed a course that he knows by heart, having won here three times before. He will share the line up this Saturday with another legend of the sport that has a history of big performances in Hamburg, Richard Murray (NED), back on the circuit after a heart surgery a year ago.
The German squad will be a strong one, with Lasse Luhrs, bronze medallist in WTCS Leeds, leading a young group of athletes that will count on the extra push of the local crowds’ support. Tim Hellwig - winner in Hamburg last year -, Jonas Schomburg, Lasse Nygaard Priester and Valentin Wernz complete a roaster of young talent that will be ready to show all their cards this Saturday in Hamburg.
Looking for redemption after a 4th place in WTCS Montreal and a 8th place in WTCS Leeds will be Jelle Geens (BEL), who seems to be right back in form after the injury that kept him out of the first races of the year. With a technical bike course that suits him perfectly, Geens already knows what it is to podium in Hamburg and celebrate with a beer shower, and he is thirsty for more.
Also with a previous podium in Hamburg under his belt is Vasco Vilaca (POR), one always to be considered for the podium, and it was in the famous Hamburg city centre blue carpet where Antonio Serrat Seoane finished in the top 5 of a WTCS race for the first time less than a year ago. The young Spaniard has since then hit the top 5 on a few occasions, but never been on a WTCS podium yet. Along with him, teammates Roberto Sanchez Mantecon and Alberto Gonzalez Garcia will try to improve their rankings after some great performances in their last races.
For the stars and stripes of USA, Chase Mcqueen - remember, he is not related to the famous actor -, Kevin Mcdowell, Seth Rider and Marc Dubrik will be trying to get enough points to ensure that they have as many athletes as possible in the top 30 of the Olympic ranking, which would grant them the maximum of three male slots for the Paris 2024 Games.
Excellent swimmers like Mathew Hauser (AUS), Jamie Riddle (RSA) and Mark Devay (HUN) will try to make an impact on the race from the first strokes, while fast runners like Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS), Manoel Messias (BRA) or Jawad Abdelmoula (MAR) will surely try their chances if it all comes to a run race with a big pack dismounting their bikes all together.
Current standings in the Maurice Lacroix rankings: