Jesse Thomas Going After Sixth-Straight Wildflower Win

Americans Jesse Thomas and Liz Lyles return to the Wildflower Festival weekend to defend their long course titles.

Americans Jesse Thomas and Liz Lyles return to the Wildflower Festival weekend to defend their long course titles. 

This weekend, elites and age-group triathletes will travel to Lake San Antonio to take part in the 34th running of the Wildflower Triathlons. All athletes will compete on a “drought-modified” course for the third year in a row.

Along with its marquee long course triathlon (1.2-mile swim, 2.2-mile run to T1, 56-mile bike, 10.9-mile run), Wildflower will host sprint, Olympic and mountain bike triathlons as part of its famous weekend festival that is expected to welcome up to 7,500 athletes and 30,000 spectators.

For the last five consecutive years Jesse Thomas (USA) has dominated the men’s field, and now holds the record for the most Wildflower wins. Thomas will race this Saturday, with his eye on an unprecedented sixth-straight championship. Thomas will again have to bring his best to the starting line, as he will be competing again against his hometown buddy, and last year’s second place finisher, Matt Lieto. Thomas and Lieto had nearly identical swim and bike splits during last year’s race but Thomas was able to gain a few minutes on the run to solidify the lead.

Thomas and Lieto will also be contending with the strength of an impressive pro field. Wildflower’s 2006 champion and current course record holder Terrenzo Bozzone (NZL) will be returning to this year’s starting line. Bozzone is a former Ironman 70.3 world champion who has proven to be a strong force in this distance. Bozzone earned top-three finishes in all six of his 2015 Ironman 70.3 races and will be charging to add another win on race day.

Adding to a powerful men’s lineup is David Giardini, who had the fastest swim split of the day at last year’s race and then went on to out bike all of the competition, earning the fastest bike split as well. Giardini will be joined by top pros, Chris Lieferman, Thomas Gerlach, Derek Garcia and Matty Reed as they all compete for a coveted spot on the podium.

The women’s elite field will welcome back Wildflower’s 2015 Champion Liz Lyles (USA). Lyles nabbed the title from three-time champion Heather Jackson also of Bend, Ore., in a dramatic sprint finish that resulted in Jackson collapsing in the finisher’s chute. While Jackson won’t be racing Wildflower this year, Lyles will still face a few tough names.

Laurel Wassner (USA) will be returning to race her third Wildflower Triathlon. Wassner won her first pro race in 2010 at the Columbia Triathlon and placed fifth at Wildflower last year. Emily Cocks (USA) will also be on the start list again after a seventh-place finish in 2015.

RELATED PHOTOS: 2015 Wildflower Triathlon

Men Elite Start List (In Alphabetical Order)
Christopher Bagg
Chris Baird
AJ Baucco
Terenzo Bozzone
Nicholas Chase
James Cook
Ben Collins
Sam Corace
Justin Daerr
John Dahlz
Nathan Dressel
Andrew Drobeck
Alistar Eeckman
Charlie Epperson
Derek Garcia
Thomas Gerlach
Davide Giardini
Yu Hsiao
Tyler Jordan
Nathan Killam
Andrew Langfield
Chris Leiferman
Matt Lieto
Steve Mantell
Matthew Organista
Jason Pederson
Branden Rakita
Matthew Reed
Thomas Roos
Matthew Russell
Alexander Schilling
Jesse Thomas
Maik Twelsiek
Jesse Vondracek
Shawn Wilyman

RELATED: Wildflower Triathlon Features Unique Registration Options For 2016

Women Elite Start List (In Alphabetical Order)
Emily Cocks
Alyssa Godesky
Erin Green
Kelly Kosmo
Cathleen Knutson
Kara LaPoint
Elizabeth Lyles
Mackenzie Madison
Leslie Miller
Julie Patterson
Robin Pomeroy
Jessica Smith
Amy VanTassel
Nicole Valentine
Laurel Wassner
Kelly Withrow

RELATED – No Rest And No Regrets: Liz Lyles’ Story