Australia’s Commonwealth Games hopefuls Luke Willian, Matt Hauser and Charlotte McShane will have one of their final hit outs at this Saturday’s sprint distance Mooloolaba ITU Triathlon World Cup.
Defending champion Willian and World Junior Champion Hauser will have an all-star cast waiting for them with South African Richard Murray, fourth in the 2016 Rio Olympics and fellow Australian Olympians Ryan Bailie and Aaron Royle along with Kiwi Olympian Ryan Sissons and Spain’s Victor Hernandez amongst the Elite Men.
Add in Hauser’s 21-year-old inform training partner Kingscliff’s Brandon Copeland, the Oceania Championship winner from Devonport and Canadian Games duo Matt Sharpe and Tyler Mislawchuk and the men’s field will be bulging with established stars and rising ones, with Games events set down for April 5 (Men's and Women's Elite) and April 7 (Mixed Relay and Men's and Women's Paratriathlon).
Willian dominated from the outset to win the Gold Coast Triathlon Luke Harrop Memorial Australian Championship event on the Gold Coast a fortnight ago from Hauser, a race converted to a Duathlon when the swim was cancelled due to poor water quality.
McShane was second in the Oceania Cup to Andrea Hewitt (NZ) in Glenelg and followed up with a third in the Oceania Championships in Devonport to Emma Jeffcoat.
She will face off against inform training partner Natalie Van Coevorden (bronze medal winner in the opening World Triathlon Series race in Abu Dhabi last week) and Jeffcoat who added that converted Duathlon on the Gold Coast to her brilliant early season form.
The USA’s Kirsten Kasper, a close up fourth in Abu Dhabi and Canadian Games trio Joanne Brown, Dominika Jamnicky and Amy Legault are sure to be amongst the front runners.
Hauser said the men’s race would be on from the start.
“We’ve got a great bunch of young Aussies heading into the World Cup and it will be a good shake out for the Commonwealth Games with such world class competition including Richard Murray who is obviously in good form at the moment,” said Hauser, who will try and replicate Mooloolaba as much as he can for the Games.
“I’ll try and emulate the conditions to suit Mooloolaba as a Games run through; I have taken a lot of confidence from my win at last year’s World’s already as I build for 2018.
“(Like Rotterdam) it’s all about putting the race together as predicted and as best as possible for the Games and it’s going to be very front end heavy especially with the swim bike.
“It’s about taking positives from that race (Rotterdam) and moving on to prepare to race against the world’s best, it’s about moving onwards and upwards.
“There are a lot of strong guys in there and it’s going to be on from the start and if it’s not on then I’m going to make sure I do the right thing in preparing for the Commonwealth Games races as best as possible.
“It will be good to go up against Murray and see where I’m at and really test the legs out and hopefully take a lot of confidence from my training at the moment and I think I’ll be able to give it a good crack.”
Bailie and Royle, our best performed Rio duo, are preparing for the WTS season with Bermuda and Yokohama on the immediate horizon and will be doing their best to hang on in full training as they build towards a season that will climax at the WTS Grand Final on the Gold Coast in September.
Van Coevorden has arrived onto the Sunshine Coast with that extra spring in her step after putting together a smart game plan to stay up right on the bike in tricky conditions in Abu Dhabi and she finished off her race brilliantly putting together the work she has been doing with coach Jamie Turner on the “Blue Carpet Project."
“The Blue Carpet Project is something we have all been working towards for a couple of years and it is all about making sure you have something in the tank when you get to the blue carpet,” said Van Coevorden.
“And that’s exactly how it panned out – when I dug deep to get to the line it just automatically kicked in physically and mentally without me thinking about it.
“We work on it at the end of every training session and I haven’t had the chance to use it and I know I can do it now.”
Jeffcoat will take the confidence from Devonport and the Gold Coast to Mooloolaba and New Plymouth and the WTS season.
“I’ve had a great start to the season and I certainly can’t complain,” said Jeffcoat.
“And it’s nice to get some rewards for all the hard work you put in; I would love to see the surf swim at Mooloolaba, given my background but if not, I will be ready for whatever happens.
“I’ll be out to race hard from the start – that old school Aussie tactic of keeping them all honest – there’s no better way to race and I hope it all plays out well again and I’ll be ready to go come Saturday.”
The women’s race will start at 1pm on Saturday with the men’s race at 3pm.