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This weekend, Hyde Park will be transformed into a triathlon haven as the world’s fastest triathletes take to racing the fifth edition of the PruHealth World Triathlon London. As in years past, London brings out the best of the best with top ranked Javier Gomez (ESP), the Brownlee brothers (GBR), Mario Mola (ESP) and Richard Murray (RSA) all on the men’s start list. The women’s race will feature No. 1 Jodie Stimpson (GBR), Gwen Jorgensen (USA) and Helen Jenkins (GBR). Olympic silver medalist Lisa Norden will also return to compete in London for the first time since finishing second two years ago. This year, athletes are due to compete over a 750m swim in the Serpentine Lake before taking off on four technical bike laps and concluding with three run laps along the Serpentine.
In the four years London has been on the WTS schedule, either Alistair Brownlee or Gomez has won the race, ping-ponging the title back and forth to each other. With the Spaniard winning last year, that could mean it is historically Alistair’s year to serve up the final volley. However, if this season’s record is any indicator, Gomez will be the man to beat.
But there’s another twist this year with the event set to be contested over half the standard distance. Jonathan Brownlee, who has medalled in three of the four World Triathlon London races, is tough to beat in a sprint. Further, he endured a tough loss to Gomez in front of a home crowd down the finish chute last year, which he will surely want to avenge. He’s yet to win this year and has yet to win in London, meaning Jonny just might have the fuel to fire him across the finish first.
Stimpson will line up as the woman to beat on home soil. The Brit has stormed to an impressive start to the season, having won the first two WTS events of the year. Stimpson was again poised for the podium in Yokohama when she tripped in transition, sustaining a cut to her foot that required stitches. Despite the injury, Stimpson finished the race in ninth place to retain her top spot in the Threadneedle Rankings.
After sitting out last year’s race due to injury, Jenkins will return to compete in London for the first time since finishing fifth at the 2012 Olympic Games. But history is on the side of the solid all-around triathlete, as she’s finished on the podium in each of the WTS London races that she has competed. Jenkins will also sport fresh legs after opting out of making the trek to Japan for the Yokohama race.
While Jorgensen didn’t have the start to the year she was looking for, the American was back to her red hot racing style in Japan. But London represents a mixed bag of results for Jorgensen. In 2011, the Olympian scored her first podium in a major ITU race, while last year she was forced to pull out of the race after a crash derailed both her bike and her World Championship dreams. Although Jorgensen is well suited for the flat course, the sprint distance may not lend itself to Jorgenen’s medal aspirations.
Likewise, Anne Haug (GER) will certainly look to avenge her poor performance last year that prevented her from being the World Champ. Haug, however, proved in Hamburg last year she has the power needed over the sprint distance to cross the finish line first.