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Year after year the Wildflower Long Course Triathlon has served as the official season opener. The addition of Escape From Alcatraz and Ironman St. George on the same weekend means that Wildflower won’t have as tough of a lineup as in past years, but it has still drawn top names from around the world.
On the men’s side, 2009 winner Andy Potts has chosen to race at the Escape From Alcatraz triathlon. With Potts out of the lineup, last year’s runner-up Eneko Llanos of Spain is the favorite. Llanos won the coveted title at the Abu Dhabi Triathlon and looks to be in great early-season shape. His biggest competition will likely come from Denmark’s Rasmus Henning. Other podium contenders include Australia’s Joe Gambles, Paul Ambrose, Chris Legh and Leon Griffin, Sweden’s Bjorn Andersson, Germany’s Maik Twelsiek and South Africa’s Conrad Stoltz.
The women’s returning champion, Virginia Berasategui of Spain, will not be able to enter this race under the radar like last year. After the win at this race and a third place finish in Kona, Berasategui is a favorite in any race she enters. Great Britain’s Julie Dibens added her name to the start list at the last minute and the Ironman 70.3 World Champion will fair well on this tough bike course. Another heavy favorite is Canada’s Samantha McGlone. McGlone won this race in 2008 and still holds the course record at 4:31:08. She was unable to race last year because she was still recovering from an injury, so she will no doubt be anxious to reclaim her 2008 title. Fellow Canadian Magali Tisseyre will be taking on this course for the first time. The third place finisher from last year’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship has said she prefers hillier courses and could fair well on Saturday. Americans Linsey Corbin and Desiree Ficker will also be top competitors.