The first World Triathlon Championship Series Sunderland will take to the English city’s Roker Beach on Saturday afternoon, where 57 athletes face a brand new sprint-distance challenge and rare British beach start for the sixth stop of the 2023 Series.
As the chase for World Championship points continues to heat up, it is a straight shootout between New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde and Portugal’s Vasco Vilaca for who will stand on top of the rankings on Sunday evening with the Paris Test Event and Championship Series still to come, defending champion Leo Bergere also returning for the first time since Cagliari in May.
It will be a chilly, anti-clockwise 750m swim in the wall-protected water of Sunderland Harbour, before the athletes head out on the five-lap, 21.3km bike with one climb, three fast sections, one switchback and dead turns, wrapping up with a 2-lap 5km run to the tape. As always, you can watch all the action over on TriathlonLive.tv.
Fans will be looking for another hit of the kind of high-octane action that they were treated to at WTCS Hamburg a fortnight ago, while the athletes will be grateful the challenge is a more straightforward sprint-distance thrash out than that intense two-day blast in Germany.
It was Hayden Wilde’s tactical masterclass that won the day in Germany and put him in touch with Series leader Vasco Vilaca, the final super-sprint coming down to a brilliant T2 that bought the kiwi the slither of daylight he needed over his rivals, taking full advantage to seal a second win of the year.
It should be another fascinating finale in Sunderland, with those still around him onto the run knowing that Wilde will be the man to try and hang on to over the first lap, while he will of course be looking to shake them off as quickly as possible. Current number one Vilaca hasn’t missed a race this year and continues to build and finesse his challenge for the title. Out-pacing Alex Yee down the chute in Hamburg will have given the 23-year-old a boost even if he couldn’t quite reach Wilde, and there is never any shortage of confidence or bravery from the Portuguese star, while Yee sits out the race ahead of next month’s Paris Test Event.
The 2022 World Champion Leo Bergere is back on the start line and keen to see how a solid two month training block and time at the altitude of Font Romeu has sharpened his challenge. With Pierre Le Corre by his side, the pair worked so successfully in Abu Dhabi in November to push the bike pace, and will know that could again be their best chance at keeping the likes of Wilde at bay.
European Games champion Vetle Bergsvik Thorn again looked sharp before his unfortunate DSQ in Hamburg and he will be fired up for redemption after that frustrating finish a fortnight ago as the sole Norwegian on the men’s side.
There is dangerous run form and speed deep into the start list, though. Jawad Abdelmoula has yet to recapture his form of 2022 but remains a threat, Manoel Messias has already run his way to the podium twice in impressive fashion in 2023, Antonio Serrat Seoane (ESP) and Tim Hellwig (GER) will want to top up their first tastes of podium successes last year.
Can Jonas Schomburg (GER) make one of his signature power moves out of T2 stick for a first Series medal? Will Kenji Nener (JPN) convert his top-10 consistency to a podium spot? What will it take for Richard Murray (RSA) or Mario Mola (ESP) to roll back the years and find what would be a famous finish in Sunderland? Tune in to TriathlonLive.tv from 2pm BST Sunday to find out!