With just two World Cups left in the ITU season, Cartagena debuts as a new race on the circuit this Sunday. Featuring similar start lists to Cozumel, athletes will this weekend battle over double the distance over a standard sized course.
Last weekend, Nicola Spirig (SUI) looked every much the Olympic champion that she is when she broke away on the last kilometer in Cozumel to win the World Cup. Despite a lackluster swim, the flat course and Spirig’s strong cycling skills put her back in the game early on the bike. This weekend again presents a flat course, which should work well to Spirig’s advantage if she can keep the leaders in sight on the swim.
Yuliya Yelistratova (UKR) and Paula Findlay (CAN), both of whom are enjoying hot streaks, will again line up this weekend. Yelistratova has broken into the top three each of the last two World Cups with cracking runs. After battling a series of injuries the last two years, Findlay showed promising progression with strong performances in both Edmonton and Cozumel. Look for these two ladies to be in contention on the run.
Likewise, Vendula Frintova (CZE) has enjoyed a markedly improved season and will factor on the run. Additionally, she proved hot and humid conditions are no problem for her with a second-place finish in Alanya. Despite her young age, Audrey Merle (FRA) can be expected to run with the top ladies come Sunday.
Though the flat course doesn’t lend itself to breakaways, strong cyclists like Charlotte Bonin (ITA) should factor in closing any gaps from the swim, during which athletes like Anastasia Abrosimova (RUS) and Carolina Routier (ESP) will likely lead.
After a stomach virus took Joao Pereira (POR) out of last weekend’s World Cup race in Cozumel, he returns for another shot at a podium in Cartagena. The Portugese breakout star will have stiff competition from last Sven Riederer (SUI), Jarrod Shoemaker (USA), Crisanto Grajales (MEX) and Alexander Bryukhankov (RUS), all of whom raced in Cozumel.
All of the men can turn up the turbo speed on the run, especially Pereira and Riederer, while Shoemaker has been showing signs of a return to top form in World Cups this year. Meanwhile Reinaldo Colucci threw his hat in the ring as one to watch with his bike performance in Edmonton.
While young, the speed of the entire French team should not be discounted. Four-time Olympian Hunter Kemper (USA) will take on the rising talent. Despite a limited number of ITU races under his belt the last two years, his win at the Hy-Vee triathlon this year showed Kemper can still conquer the standard distance.
The women will take off first at 7:15am local time, while the men compete at 10:00am. Follow the races with live timing at triathlon.org/live and on twitter @triathlonlive.