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After traveling to seven cities in six countries, the 2010 ITU Triathlon World Cup Series comes to a close in South Korea this Saturday. Almost 110 athletes will aim to set themselves up in good position for the start of 2011. As this event is staged after the Grand Final, ranking points will count towards next season.
With Olympic qualifying well under way, the fierce race for one of the coveted spots on the Olympic start line has athletes fighting for every ranking point. But in Tongyeong the toughest battle may be against jetlag. Many athletes are making the long trip from this past weekend’s World Cup stop in Mexico, not allowing much time for recovery or the long haul to the southern tip of the Korean peninsula.
Elite Women Preview
A host of Europeans will challenge for the women’s podium including 3-time Olympian Anja Dittmer, France’s Carole Peon, Holten World Cup bronze medallist Radka Vodickova, and Ainhoa Murua of Spain who will wear number one on the start line. Others to watch include the reigning Under23 World Champion Emma Jackson, Jodie Swallow of Great Britain and Ukraine’s Yuliya Sapunova, the only woman in the field to have won a World Cup this year.
The home team is well represented with nine women on the start line but making the podium will be a tall order for the young and relatively inexperienced team.
Elite Men Preview
Headlining the wide open men’s field is 2007 World Champion and 2008 Olympian Daniel Unger of Germany, who will look to rebound after a disappointing 22nd place finish in Mexico. Leading the Australians are Dan Wilson-who will wear number one on Sunday-and James Seear, who took bronze at World Cup in Australia earlier this year.
Russia has a legitimate shot at sweeping the podium with a strong men’s team that includes Yulian Malyshev, Vladimir Turbaevskiy, Ivan Tutukin and Ivan Vasiliev. France has a pair of former Junior World Champions in the competition with Aurelien Raphael and Vincent Luis while Czech Premysl Svarc will look to put together another solid race after a surprising 5th place finish this past Sunday in Mexico.
The South Korean team fields seven athletes in the men’s field they will certainly look to use the home crowd’s support to their advantage.
Completing a 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run, athletes will be vying for their share of the $50,000 USD prize purse as well as ranking points which will count to their 2011 rankings.
This race marks the 5th major ITU event in Tongyeong. Previously the South Korean port city hosted World Cups in 2003, 2004 and 2008 and last year it had the honor of opening the brand new Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series.