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The ITU’s premier Dextro Energy World Championship Series could see some shakeups in its rankings this weekend, as some of the biggest names in the sport are choosing to sit Hamburg out.
Australia’s Chris McCormack, who is attempting to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London, will attempt to better his DNF at the most recent World Championship Series race in Kitzbühel, Austria. He will need some significant points in Hamburg on Saturday if he is to continue his quest for the Olympics—the one achievement he has failed to attain in his storied career.
The World Championship Series’ No. 1 ranking will be there for the taking for Spain’s Javier Gomez, as current No. 1 Alistair Brownlee of Great Britain is forgoing Hamburg.
But Gomez, the reigning world champion, will have stiff competition from Russia’s Alexander Brukhankov, who is currently ranked No. 2. Even if Gomez comes in first, Brukhankov only needs to place fourth to take over the series lead.
Reigning Olympic gold medalist Jan Frodeno could steal the spotlight from both Gomez and Brukhankov, however, as he’ll be racing in his home country and likely will be extremely motivated to win—something he has never done in Hamburg. Frodeno, who was second in Hamburg last year, got off to a slow start this year with 45th in Sydney. But he was sixth in Madrid and likely will be ready to race on Saturday alongside the six other Germans who are on the start list. Among these Germans is 2007 world champion Daniel Unger, who won his world championship title in Hamburg in an upset over Gomez.
Other potential podium contenders include Brad Kahlefeldt and Brendan Sexton of Australia, Tim Don and Will Clarke of Great Britain, Kris Gemmell of New Zealand, Jarrod Shoemaker of the U.S., Sven Riederer of Switzerland, Mario Mola of Spain, Joao Silva of Portugal, David Hauss of France and Kyle Jones of Canada.
Some notable racers who aren’t on the start list for Hamburg include Jonathan Brownlee of Great Britain, who is currently ranked No. 4 in the series; Bevan Docherty of New Zealand, who just won the Edmonton World Cup; Courtney Atkinson of Australia; and Americans Greg Bennett, Matt Chrabot, Hunter Kemper and Manny Huerta.
The Dextro Energy World Championship Series has been the Paula Findlay show so far this year, as Findlay has gone 3 for 3 in World Championship Series wins. Luckily for the women racing in Hamburg, Findlay is sitting this one out.
Findlay’s absence means that there could be a new series leader come Sunday. If either Chile’s Barbara Riveros Diaz—who is currently ranked No. 2 in the series—or New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt—who is currently ranked No. 3—win on Sunday she’ll overtake Findlay for the series lead.
But Riveros and Hewitt will have some stiff competition for the win.
The United States’ Sarah Groff, who is Riveros’ training partner under coach Darren Smith, will look to better her third place finish in Kitzbühel in June, when Groff became the first American woman to ever get on the podium at a World Championship Series event.
Other racers to watch include France’s Emmie Charayron, who recently was crowned European champion; Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig, who finished 2010 ranked No. 2 in the series rankings and who will race for the first time in 2011 after some trouble with stress fractures, according to the ITU; Germany’s Svenja Bazlen, who finished in the top 10 in Madrid and Kitzbühel and who will likely be motivated to race well in her home country; and Canada’s Kirsten Sweetland.
You can also never count out the Emmas of Australia—although reigning Olympic champion Emma Snowsill and reigning world champion Emma Moffatt have had slow starts to the year, they are always dangerous competitors, and both are on Hamburg’s start list.
Americans Jillian Petersen and Gwen Jorgensen are also slated to race.
Some notable absences include Helen Jenkins of Great Britain, Sarah Haskins and Laura Bennett of the United States, and Lisa Norden of Sweden.