EILAT, Israel – This Saturday the curtain will be drawn on the BG Triathlon World Cup series with the 2007 finale in Eilat, the first world cup in ITU history to be staged in Israel. The event will be one of the most diverse of the year with 36 different countries represented in the elite men’s and women’s fields. Athletes will not only battle for the final World Cup title of the year, they’ll also fight for the last remaining rankings points and earn a portion of the US$250,000 bonus pool.
Highlighting the women’s field are world number three Samantha Warriner of New Zealand and the 2005 World Cup series champion Annabel Luxford of Australia. With wins in Vancouver and Tiszaujvaros, Warriner is the only woman other than World Champion Vanessa Fernandes to claim multiple World Cup titles this year. At least a 15th place finish in Eilat will give Warriner enough points to overtake Australian Emma Moffatt and finish the year number two in the world. Luxford hasn’t raced since the World Championships in September due to a nagging lower leg injury, but with 15 World Cup medals to her credit, she can never be counted out. Also in the mix are Pan Am Games Gold medalist Julie Ertel of the United States, former Junior World Champion Nicola Spirig of Switzerland and Olympian Andrea Whitcombe of Great Britain.
The men’s race could turn into a dual between old and new with Ukrainian veteran Volodymyr Polikarpenko and Russian teenager Alexander Brukhankov as the top ranked men. Polikarpenko is coming off a bronze in Cancun earlier this month, the 21st World Cup medal of his career, and he’ll find extra motivation as he sits just nine points behind Brukhankov in the world rankings. American Matt Reed, African Champion Hendrik De Villiers and newcomer Ritchie Nicholls of Great Britain, who bested Brukhankov at the Under23 European championships, will make this an interesting and unpredictable race.
Not to be ignored are Israeli twins Ran and Dan Alterman. The pair will have home crowd support and they know the Eilat course well, having both been on the podium in the European Cup events for the past two years. As the most accomplished and promising triathletes from their country, one of them could make ITU history by becoming the first Israeli to win a World Cup medal.
Eilat, a tourist resort on the Red Sea, has hosted European Cups for the past two years. The course begins with a 1.5-kilometer non-wetsuit swim in open sea with expected water temperature of 24 degrees Celsius. Athletes will then challenge the 40-kilometer bike course that comprises of seven technical laps with one 600-meter 6% climb in each lap before taking on the flat ten kilometers of the run.
Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com
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