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Frodeno, Moffatt head into the second-to-last race of season as the leaders of world rankings.
The Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series moves to Kitzbühel, Austria for the penultimate event of the Series this weekend. With only 8,400 residents, the ski resort in the Austrian Alps will be the smallest city to host a Series race this year. The quaint village is renowned for having some of the most difficult ski runs in all of Europe, including the world famous Streif Slope.
The surplus of steep climbs surrounding Kitzbühel should make for one of the more challenging bike courses of the season, which bodes well for the stronger cyclists. One of the top cyclists in the women’s field will be Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig, who won round three of the Series in Madrid. The reigning European champion took second in Kitzbühel last season, and will look to use her power on the bike to move up one spot this year. To do that, Spirig will have to top Aussie Emma Moffatt, who won here last year and is currently ranked first in the world. Moffatt has yet to win a race this season, but finished on the podium in Sydney, Seoul and Hamburg.
New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt sits second in the world rankings, but has also been winless this season. Like Moffatt, consistency has been key to Hewitt’s success, with the Kiwi finishing in the top six in all four Series events in which she has competed.
Sweden’s Lisa Norden, who won less than a month ago in Hamburg, also enjoys challenging bike courses and will no doubt look forward to the hills of Kitzbühel. Other top women competing in Austria include 21-year-old Canadian Paula Findlay, who won three weeks ago in London, super-runner Emma Snowsill of Australia, and Brit Helen Jenkins, who finished fifth in Kitzbühel in 2009.
After back-to-back wins in Hamburg and London, the men’s favourite in Austria has to be Spain’s Javier Gomez, who has made 29-minute 10K run splits routine this season. The Spaniard will have to duel with reigning world champ Alistair Brownlee of Great Britain for the fourth time this season. After winning in Madrid and at the European Championships in Ireland, Brownlee faltered in London, suffering of heat exhaustion at the finish and only managing a 10th-place finish. Brownlee and Gomez finished one-two, respectively, in Austria last year, with the Brit finishing eight seconds ahead.
After finishing second in Hamburg and third in London, Germany’s Jan Frodeno holds the number one world ranking, with a lead of almost 200 points over Gomez. Another top-four finish for Frodeno will have the German heading into the Budapest Grand Final as the points leader.
Other contenders for the men’s title in Austria include red-hot Aussies Brad Kahlefeldt and Courtney Atkinson, and the always tough Russian duo of Alexander Brukhankov and Dmitry Polyansky. New Zealand’s Bevan Docherty, who won the opening round of the Series in Sydney, rounds out the top men’s contenders.