The first ever world titles in the two-day super-sprint format are up for grabs at a packed WTCS Hamburg, not to mention valuable Series points in the hunt to become the Series World Champion and Paris 2024 Olympic Qualification points.
Friday morning sees the two men’s qualifying heats, the top 10 from each going straight through to the final. The next twenty will head to one of two repechages Friday evening, from which the top 5 of each will also make it through to the three-stage shootout to become the 2023 World Triathlon Super-Sprint Champion.
The course is tight and testing, the 300m swim including the ever-disarming darkness of a 40m tunnel section, followed by three laps of 2.5km of the city centre streets and closing out with a 1.75km run. It’s a one-off for the qualifiers and repechages, the whole thing repeated three times in the finals, with the last ten across the line shaved off the next start leaving ten men for the gold. Watch it all over on TriathlonLive.tv.
QUALIFIER HEAT ONE
The first men’s heat looks like being tarmac-scorchingly fast, and hitting the top 10 and qualifying without having to repechage will be a major test, one that could make or break medal chances.
The current no.1 in the Series rankings is Vasco Vilaça, the Portuguese talent with two podiums in 2023 but who has yet to sample the format in the WTCS after missing out on the ’21 and ‘22 editions of WTCS Montreal. Rapid over all three segments, he races fast and fearless – the perfect combination for super-sprint.
Alex Yee hasn’t raced Hamburg since 2020, when he finished 5th thanks to a 14m24s 5km, comfortably the quickest that day and it will be that notorious pace that could put him back on top of the podium just as he was in Montreal a year ago. That day, Yee built through the first two rounds and hit his stride at exactly the right time to beat Hayden Wilde to the tape, and he has only developed the impressive tools in his armoury since.
Jonas Schomburg will have the home crowd behind him as he continues to hunt that elusive first WTCS podium, while Brazil’s Manoel Messias has found his ruthlessness to score his first ever Series podiums this campaign, his Abu Dhabi 5km run to bronze only six seconds shy of winner Yee.
In fact the Heat one start looks like a who’s who of the quickest names around on two feet, so it will be fascinating to see who makes the cut out of Jelle Geens, European Champion David Castro Fajardo, Tyler Mislawchuk, Matthew McElroy, Jawad Abdelmoula and Morgan Pearson, plus Norwegian engines Gustav Iden and Vetle Bergsvik Thorn.
QUALIFIER HEAT TWO
Top of the second heat is Hayden Wilde, fresh from a month off racing, he’s been putting in the hard yards and setting what he hopes will be a winning course all the way to the Championship Finals Pontevedra, starting with the Super-Sprint world title. It’s a style of racing that suits him, only a slipped chain possibly costing him in Montreal as he took silver, and it’s a city in which he won in 2022.
Matthew Hauser arrives off the back of his first WTCS win and a massive race in Montreal that backed up his silver in Yokohama and showed both his rapid swim and impressive run legs with a 14m23s time for the 5km.
Kristian Blummenfelt continues to reacclimatise with the demands of short-course after a stop-start 2022 on the blue carpet, and this will be the Norwegian’s first taste of the elimination format as part of the Series. His 5th place finish at WTCS Montreal was another example of a hard bike leg possibly taking its toll on his legs for the final push, and he’ll likely be straight on the gas for the short, sharp 2.5km bike loops.
Csongor Lehmann will hope the exertions of his draining full-tilt 5km run to victory at the Tiszy World Cup won’t take too much of a toll, Brazil’s Miguel Hidalgo made a splash at the format debut in Montreal two years ago and could do likewise here in Hamburg as he chases consistency and Marten Van Riel’s big-race rehab continues after an extended absence from the Series with injury.
Full start lists available here.