Sunday's race will feature $700,000 prize purse, stellar international field
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 13, 2007) -- The richest event ever on the elite triathlon circuit is on tap for this Sunday (June 17) in Des Moines, Iowa, as the ITU World Cup makes its only stop in the U.S. in 2007.
The Hy-Vee World Cup features a total purse of more than $700,000 in cash and prizes. The first-place winners in the men's and women's divisions will each take home paychecks of $200,000, filtering down to $3,000 for the 15th place man and woman. The winners will also get brand new Hummers.
National NBC television coverage will bring great exposure to the event and the sport. NBC will offer six live look-ins from the U.S. Open throughout the afternoon and will also produce and air an hour long broadcast show of the event, scheduled for Sunday, July 15 at 1 p.m. CST.
ITU will offer live video coverage of both the men's and women's races. Live coverage including live video, audio commentary and timing will begin at 11:15 a.m. Pacific Time, 12:15 p.m. Mountain, 1:15 p.m. Central, and 2:15 p.m. Eastern. Go to the event page for more information.
The start lists read like a who's who of international triathlon with multiple Olympic, world and continental champions spattered with more then a few Olympians and world cup winners, all racing for valuable Olympic qualification points. This event will have a start list comparable to any ever assembled and the competition is sure to be fierce.
The Americans will have eight men and eight women competing:
Andy Potts (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Hunter Kemper (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Matt Reed (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Brian Fleischmann (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Doug Friman (Tucson, Ariz.)
Joe Umphenour (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Jarrod Shoemaker (Sudbury, Mass.)
Mark Fretta (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Laura Bennett (Boulder, Colo.)
Julie Swail (Irvine, Calif.)
Sarah Haskins (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Sara McLarty (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Jasmine Oeinck (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Margaret Shapiro (Annandale, Va.)
Sarah Groff (Boulder, Colo.)
Joanna Zeiger (Boulder, Colo.)
Having the event on U.S. soil means that much more to the American athletes, many of whom have been involved in pre-event promotions in Des Moines over the past few months.
"This is the first time I am going to be racing a World Cup in the U.S., and I am excited to have such a huge event on our home soil," said 2006 USAT Elite National Champion Sarah Haskins. "My hometown (St. Louis) is close to Iowa, so I am going to have lots of family traveling up to cheer me on, and my husband's family is from Minnesota and they are coming too. It is going to be a special event to be able to share the sport that I love with my family. Usually we are racing across the ocean and my family is trying to watch a tiny screen online. I think they are going to be blown away how well-done world cup events are, and I expect Iowa will be over the top."
For the men, Andy Potts (Colorado Springs, Colo.) is having a phenomenal year, with three wins and a second-place finish in his first four races. He sees the race having more meaning than just who wins.
"Obviously, it's a big race in terms of the payday. The money attracts a lot of the top-tier athletes, so you are going to have a great race," said Potts, the 2007 USAT Elite National Champion. "But it has great implications for the sport since it's here in America. Coverage is going to be at a level that will help sell the sport. Triathlon has so much to offer kids and adults looking for a healthy lifestyle. This will help showcase the sport and develop it long term."
Haskins agrees. "I feel having a world cup in the United States will increase exposure for our sport of triathlon. Many people in the U.S. instantly think Ironman when they hear about triathlon and have no idea what ITU style racing is about. I feel this will get many people excited not just about draft-legal style racing, but triathlon racing in general. With the Olympics nearing, I think this will also get people excited about the triathlon event during the games."
Both athletes are pleased with the efforts from sponsor Hy-Vee and the city of Des Moines.
"I think the event is going to be really well done," said Haskins. "I know the event organizers have really worked hard to make sure this event is well-organized and top of the line."
What do they expect from their own performances?
"I feel I am progressing well into my season," said Haskins, who had her first world cup podium finish last weekend in Vancouver. "My goal at this race is to perform consistently and strong in all three disciplines. We are approaching the heart of racing season, but the biggest race of the year will be in Beijing in September, which is the first Olympic qualifier."
Potts doesn't offer any predictions on his performance. "The sport is so hard and demands a lot mentally and physically. Obviously I want to do great, but I can't predict where I will finish," said Potts, who has arrived in Des Moines early to run a four-day junior camp. "This is my third-straight weekend of racing, and they haven't been easy races. It's very challenging. I will race to the best of my ability."
For more information:
About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is the national governing body for triathlon, duathlon, aquathlon and winter triathlon in the United States. USAT sanctions 2,000 races and connects with more than 90,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world.
photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images