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ITU’s Sprint Triathlon World Championships Set For This Weekend

The ITU’s Elite Sprint Triathlon World Championships is set to take place this weekend in Lausanne, Switzerland, with a strong contingent of athletes looking to add a world championship to their names.

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The ITU’s Elite Sprint Triathlon World Championships is set to take place this weekend in Lausanne, Switzerland, with a strong contingent of athletes looking to add a world championship to their names.

ITU hopes the team event will one day be an Olympic event. Photo: Janos Schmidt/Triathlon.org

This year’s sprint world championship will be slightly different than last year’s, as athletes will earn points that will go towards their overall place in the Dextro Energy World Championship Series, whereas last year the race was a standalone event.

The event this weekend will also feature a Team Triathlon World Championships, a relay event that consists of two men and two women from the same country competing against other teams. Currently, the ITU is attempting to get this format of racing into the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro.

To watch the events live or to watch replays, go to Triathlonlive.tv.

The Men

Jonathan Brownlee of Great Britain will head into the world championships this weekend—a race that will be contested over 750M of swimming, 20K of biking and 5K of running—in the unique position of being slightly favored over his older brother, Alistair.

Many consider Jonathan the favorite to beat out his brother Alistair. Photo: Janos Schmidt/Triathlon.org

Jonny is the reigning ITU world sprint champion, and Alistair has said that Jonny is more suited towards the shorter distances than he is.

Nevertheless, it will be hard to bet against Alistair, who has been the most dominant athlete on the ITU circuit so far this year, having crushed the field in every race he has participated in except for Sydney, where he slipped on slick asphalt and faded to 29th place.

Both Brownlees will have plenty of competition from the field, though, which includes current World Championship Series points leader and reigning world champion Javier Gomez of Spain, Alexander Brukhankov of Russia, reigning Olympic champion Jan Frodeno of Germany, David Hauss of France, Australia’s Brad Kahlefeldt, Mario Mola of Spain, Switzerland’s Sven Riederer, Australia’s Brendan Sexton, Joao Silva of Portugal and many others.

As far as the Americans are concerned, all of the big-name American men are skipping Lausanne this year, but look for Mark Fretta and Barrett Brandon to hold down the fort for the U.S.

The Women

There are currently only eight points separating the top three women in the World Championship Series rankings, with Barbara Riveros Diaz of Chile barely ahead of New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt and Canada’s Paula Findlay.

Defending champ Norden will be racing, but she is coming off of dealing with an injury. Photo: Janos Schmidt/Triathlon.org

But with Findlay forgoing Lausanne, Riveros and Hewitt will have the opportunity to put themselves in the best possible position to win the overall world title before all athletes head into the Grand Final in Beijing in September.

Besides Riveros and Hewitt, there are many athletes who could win the sprint world championship title this weekend, such as Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins, who just won the Olympic test event in London, probably the most important win of her career so far.

Other athletes to watch include Germany’s Svenja Bazlen and Anja Dittmer, who became the first athlete to qualify for four Olympic triathlons by finishing third at the World Championship Series race in London; Australia’s Emma Snowsill, Emma Moffatt, Emma Jackson, Ashleigh Gentle and Felicity Abram; Emmie Charayron of France; Nicola Spirig of Switzerland; and several others.

Americans to watch include Gwen Jorgensen and Sara Groff, who both recently qualified for the Olympics by finishing in the top nine—Jorgensen was second, Groff was seventh—at the Olympic test event in London. Jorgensen, who competed in her first triathlon only last year, is coming off the first world cup win of her career—she won the Tiszaujvaros ITU Triathlon World Cup over the weekend.

Sweden’s Lisa Norden, who won the sprint world championships last year, will also be racing, but she is just back to competing after being out with an injury for most of the season.

The Team Event

The sprint world championships this weekend will include a unique relay event contested among 37 teams from 30 different countries, up from the 15 countries a year earlier.

Last year the Swiss team impressed in front of their home crowd. Photo: Janos Schmidt/Triathlon.org

Each team consists of two men and two women from the same country, with each member swimming 275 meters, biking 6K and then running 1.5K before tagging his or her teammate.

The ITU is attempting to get this relay format included in the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro. If included, it would be one of the few Olympic events where men and women compete together on a team.

Teams to watch this weekend include Switzerland, which will look to defend its 2009 and 2010 mixed relay world titles with a team that will likely consist of Melanie Annaheim, Nicola Spirig, Sven Riederer and Ruedi Wild. (Team members don’t need to be declared until just before the race.)

Great Britain will likely field a team that will include Alistair Brownlee, Jonathan Brownlee, Helen Jenkins and Jodie Stimpson.

Given the names on that list, it’s hard to imagine that any country will be able to top the Brits, but other countries to watch include Australia, New Zealand, France and Germany.

The U.S. will field a relay team that will include Gwen Jorgensen, Sarah Groff, Mark Fretta and Barrett Brandon.

And look for several teams to make their debuts at the world team championships: Belgium, Chile, Croatia, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea and Surinam.

[sig:CourtneyBaird]