By Chelsea White on 04/10/17 at 12:35 pm
As the 2017 season presses on, ITU has reached the 12th stop on the World Cup tour as first-time race host steps up to debut the 2017 Sarasota ITU Triathlon World Cup.
The Gulf Coast city in Florida will be the first major ITU race in the United States since Chicago hosted the World Triathlon Series Grand Final in 2015. In fact, at the world cup level, the last U.S. held event was in 2010 at the Hy-Vee ITU World Cup hosted in Des Moines, Iowa.
Due to the high levels of algae in the water, decision was taken right before the athletes briefing to change all races to a duathlon, with elite athletes going for a 5km run - 40 km bike - 10km run circuit, while the Parathletes will have a 2.5 km run, 20 km bike and 5 km run.
The local crowds will be excited to see Katie Zaferes wearing the number one on Saturday in the women’s race. Over the last few years Zaferes has skyrocketed her career to becoming one of the top women in the sport, number three to be exact. After a sensational season where she earned three podiums in the WTS, including finishing second at the Grand Final in Rotterdam, Zaferes claimed her first world medal by taking the bronze in the overall world rankings. She also won the New Plymouth World Cup earlier this season, so she could score another WC medal on Saturday.
Zaferes is not going to be the only top U.S. talent lining up in Sarasota. Taylor Spivey, Chelsea Burns and Tamara Gorman are other top Americans eager to get a world cup medal in their home nation. Spivey had a breakout season this year when she earned second in WTS Leeds, landing her first podium in the Series. Burns has similar successes, but at the world cup tier. She collected her first two world cup podiums of her career this season, both in Spain; she took bronze in both Madrid and Huelva.
While Gorman is a young talent for the women’s team. Going through the college recruitment program out of the University of Minnesota, where she runs for the track and field team. She just recently won the U23 world title in Rotterdam.
Melanie Santos (POR) took the runner-up spot in the U23 world race, where she put her name on the map.
Canadian Dominika Jamnicky is the highest ranked international elite on the start list. She has had some very strong finishes this season and will be looking to get onto her first career world cup podium this weekend.
Maaike Caelers (NED) has had a battle to get over some illness and injuries over the past couple of seasons, however 2017 was a standout year for the Dutchwoman. She earned her first world cup bronze in Tiszy and will take up the start line on Sunday to claim another.
Japan’s Juri Ide had a standout finish in WTS Gold Coast by finishing third, but she has not competed at the world cup level since the season opener in Cape Town, so we will see what she can do this Saturday.
The USA is going to have a large, yet strong showing of nationals to compete on home soil. A few of the compatriots include Kevin McDowell, Ben Kanute and Eric Lagerstrom. One of the fortes of the U.S. men’s team is their strength in the bike, where Kanute and Lagerstrom lead those charges with their unprecedented cycling talent. Kanute has a history of creating opportunities with breakaway attempts, while Lagerstrom is a driving force in pushing the pace in a pack. Both men will be huge threats for getting Americans on the podium if they make the lead bike pack.
However, it is not an American who is leading the men’s start list. That honour goes to South African Henri Schoeman. Schoeman was the Cinderella story of 2016, where he earned the bronze medal at the Rio Olympic Games and then when on to win his first WTS race in Cozumel. While he did not make it onto another WTS podium this year, he still remains one of the strongest swimmers in the elite men’s field, as well as continuously showcasing his improvements in the bike and run as well. His last world cup medal was in Cagliari with a silver, but taking a gold would be a great addition to his season.
Team Mexico will be led by Cristanto Grajales, Rodrigo Gonzalez and Irving Perez, all three of whom have had past world cup successes. Gonzalez and Perez have had the most recent of accomplishments as Gonzalez earned the silver in Weihai and Perez winning in his home nation in Merida.
Dmitry Polyanskiy (RUS) dominates the world cup circuit as he is a fierce overall triathlete. His consistency excels throughout all disciplines, but especially on the bike. He claimed the silver in Tiszy this season, but is looking for another podium finish this weekend.
There are some young names taking up the Sarasota start line that have already begun, but will continue to make ITU headlines. Going into the WTS Grand Final in Rotterdam, The Netherlands’ Jorik Van Egdom was the fan favourite to reclaim the men’s U23 world title. While he fell short to going back-to-back, he had one of the strongest runs on the day and has shown he is a fresh talent to keep on the look for.
Another strong runner is France’s Aurelien Raphael. Sarasota will be his first world cup competition of the season, but he does know what it takes to secure a medal as he was the silver finisher in Cagliari last year.
Action in Sarasota will begin on Saturday, October 7th with the elite women kicking off the race weekend with a 13:00 start time. The men will then follow the next day on Sunday, October 8th at 14:30 local time. You can follow all of the action with live timing at triathlon.org/live and live race updates on Twitter on @triathlonlive using #SarasotaWC.
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