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It marked the end of the World Triathlon Series last year, with a thrilling Grand Final punctuating an incredible season, but this year Auckland is just the start. The 1.5km harbor swim, followed by the eight-lap 40km bike through New Zealand’s largest city (complete with three separate climbs per lap) and a fast and technical four-lap 10km run marks the first stop of the 2013 ITU World Triathlon Series. With deep fields on offer in both the elite men’s and women’s races, it promises to be one worth watching.
Germany’s Anne Haug turned on the biggest race of her life in Auckland last year, pulling out a stellar run leg after an equally excellent bike to earn her first major ITU win in the final race of the season. The pint-sized star has already started off 2013 exactly where she left off, with a dominating performance in Mooloolaba to claim the first ITU World Cup of the season.
In parallels with the women’s race, the men’s race favourite is the man who took the 2012 Auckland Grand Final title and kickstarted his 2013 season with a win in Mooloolaba, Javier Gomez. The London Olympics silver medallist had one of his most memorable races in Auckland last year, just pipping Jonathan Brownlee over the line in an epic race finish to claim his first Grand Final series win. In Mooloolaba, he was similarly impressive – leading almost from go to whoa in his 13th ITU World Cup win. That win moved Gomez to second overall in the ITU World Cup winners list, moving clear of Simon Whitfield but behind Australia’s Brad Beven.