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The ITU Triathlon World Cup Series heads to Ishigaki, Japan this weekend for round three of this year’s Series. This year’s race marks the 15th time Ishigaki has hosted a World Cup, making the event the longest running on ITU’s calendar. It also marks the 31st time that a World Cup race has taken place in Japan.
Ishigaki Island, located 250 kilometers east of Taiwan, is a true tropical paradise and has long been a favourite Japanese hoiday retreat. The Island becomes a triathlon mecca on race weekend, drawing over 1,700 age-group triathletes from all over the region. It is the largest triathlon festival in Japan and has helped establish Ishigaki as a Japanese sporting hub.
Triathlon has had a special relationship with the community of Ishigaki, as demonstrated by the thousands of locals who come out to support the race year after year. Elite athletes participating this weekend will visit local schools after the race to interact with children and share their love of sport.
Both the men and women’s elite races will take place on Sunday, April 25, with the women taking off first at 1:30pm local time. Noticeably absent from the start list on the women’s side is 2009 race winner Juri Ide of Japan, who is dealing with a bout of plantar fasciitis. Even with Ide’s absence, Japan’s chances of scoring a repeat win look good, with many of the country’s top triathletes slated to start. Leading the way for the home country is veteran Kiyomi Niwata, who finished third in Ishigaki last season. Mariko Adachi will also be a threat for the win, and appears in good form after finishing fourth at the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series opener in Sydney two weeks ago. Headlining the international field is Brit Liz Blatchford, who finished third at the Mooloolaba World Cup last month and 12th in Sydney. Find the complete women’s start list here.
Looking for the win on home soil in the men’s contest will be reigning Asian champion Ryosuke Yamamoto and Hirokatsu Tayama, who finished as the runner-up to Yamamoto at last year’s Asian Championships. Russians Valentin Meshcheryakov and Anton Chuchko are sure to be in the mix as well. Both are very strong swimmers and bikers and will likely look to take control of the race early on. American Manuel Huerta will be eager for his second top-five World Cup finish in as many weeks after finishing fifth at the Monterrey World Cup in Mexico last weekend. The men’s race will start at 4pm local time. Find the complete men’s start list here.