A new look Australian mixed relay team is getting ready to make their run at reclaiming the World Championship title as the World Triathlon Series heads to Hamburg this weekend.
Ranked the #1 side heading into the World Championships, the Australians will be looking to record another podium finish to add to their 2017 World Championship gold, 2018 World Championship silver and 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal.
Despite the absence of Mixed Team Relay stalwarts Ashleigh Gentle and Matt Hauser due to training commitments and a focus on WTS Edmonton, the Australian side is looking to be in good condition ahead of racing. A number of experienced Mixed Relay competitors including Jake Birtwhistle, Aaron Royle, Luke Willian, Charlotte McShane, Natalie Van Coevorden, Gillian Backhouse and Emma Jeffcoat are all up for selection in the side. Ryan Fisher, Ryan Bailie and Emma Jackson will also get the opportunity to refine their relay racing on the world stage if selected.
Meeting the Australians on the starting line will be the highly ranked American and French teams, as well as Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand and Nottingham Mixed Relay winners Great Britain; all on the hunt for a win in Hamburg ahead of the Tokyo test event next month and Olympic gold in 2020.
Prior to Mixed Relay racing on the Sunday morning, the Australians will get the chance to test their legs amongst a class field with individual World Triathlon Series racing on the Saturday afternoon.
Speaking to Triathlon Australia, National Performance Director Justin Drew said the jam-packed and significant nature of each of the events across the weekend means that Australia will be looking to strike a balance of performance and future focus.
“This weekend in Hamburg will be a balance between individual progression, relay performance and country qualification,” Drew said.
“It’s a busy weekend ahead with late individual races on Saturday afternoon, and then backing up with the Mixed Relay on Sunday morning.”
With individual Olympic qualification points still up for grabs, the Aussies will all be looking to put down good individual results on Saturday afternoon to help secure Australia the maximum number of Olympic berths.
Birtwhistle will be looking to continue his excellent form after backing up his maiden WTS win in Leeds with 10th in Montreal last weekend. While a surging Royle will have his sights set on cracking a top 10 finish after a strong 11th place performance at WTS Leeds.
Young gun Willian will be aiming for some standout results this weekend. After taking home 7th at WTS Yokohama and 1st in the Mixed Team Relay in Abu Dhabi, Willian looks every chance to make this weekend his own and repeat the assertive form shown earlier this season.
Fisher, Willian and Bailie will all be searching for confidence boosting results this weekend as they continue to build into their seasons.
All eyes will be on Spanish triple threat Fernando Alarza, Javier Gomez Noya and Mario Mola this weekend following their thrilling sprint finish in Montreal last weekend. France’s Vincent Luis and Great Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee will also make their return to the WTS circuit in Hamburg after strong performances in Leeds, making for a highly competitive field.
After her breakthrough 7th place result in Montreal last weekend, Jackson will be aiming to capitalise on her momentum and record another great result in Hamburg. Overcoming several tough years of injury, Jackson’s climbing results over the past season have made her one to keep an eye on as the WTS builds towards its peak.
Consistent performer Van Coevorden is also one to watch in Hamburg on Saturday. After taking home 14th at WTS Leeds and WTS Yokohama, Van Coevorden will be setting her sights on another strong result in Hamburg.
WTS Hamburg also sees Backhouse and Jeffcoat continue to build towards next month’s key event after quiet starts to their seasons, while McShane will have her sights set on placing inside the top 20 after a tough race in Montreal.
The USA’s Katie Zaferes will no doubt be looking to put together another world-class race in Hamburg as she sets out to claim her fifth 2019 WTS title and go one step further in all but securing the 2019 World Title.
Coming off the back of her second straight podium finish of the Series, Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) will be chasing another stellar result in Hamburg, with strong performers Taylor Spivey (USA) and Joanna Brown (CAN) also not ones to be ruled out of finishing on the podium.
2019 Hamburg Wasser World Triathlon
Elite Women – Saturday July 6 2PM LOCAL | Saturday July 6 10PM AEST
Elite Men – Saturday July 6 4PM LOCAL | Sunday July 7 12:30AM AEST
Mixed Team Relay – Sunday July 7 9:30AM LOCAL | Sunday July 7 5:30PM AEST
Photo credit: Delly Carr