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Triathlon - 21. March 2011.

ITU Season opens with top field at Mooloolaba

A top international field will take to the Mooloolaba course for the first ITU World Cup in 2011 this weekend.

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 Emma Snowsill

While Australians have historically done well on the Sunshine Coast and have contenders in both the women’s and men’s fields, some of the ITU’s biggest international stars have also made the trip to the beachside oasis to kick-off a crucial Olympic qualifying year. Each and every world cup, world series race and continental championship will offer qualifying points for London 2012. That means every triathlete will be keen to get a jump on the field in Mooloolaba, and it’s evident in the competitors who have turned out to contest the elite races.

 

In the women’s field, triathlon fans are set to see a thriller with a host of the world’s top female triathletes to start their season on the Sunshine Coast. To put it simply, the field is stacked. As 2011 is the only full season of Olympic qualifying races, every World Cup, Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series race and Continental Championship has points on offer so expect the racing to be fast and furious from the very start.

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Australia still have the pick of the bunch in Olympic champion Emma Snowsill and two-time World Champion Emma Moffatt, but there is a host of other contenders that makes the podium trifecta a hard one to pick. Out of the 2011 ITU Gold Group, half of the golden girls are on start list, including Moffatt, Snowsill, Kate Roberts, Lisa Norden and Paula Findlay. Findlay, who had a breakthrough year in 2010 that included two Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series event wins, headlines a Canadian team that includes Kirsten Sweetland and Lauren Campbell. Sweetland races particulary well in Mooloolaba, she claimed the title in 2009. The defending champion, Vendula Frintova of the Czech Republic, is also back while pint-sized Chilean star Barbara Riveros Diaz will also be in contention. Another Australian Emma, Emma Jackson, could also surprise. Jackson won the 2010 under23 world title and is only 19, but has decided to focus full-time at the elite level in 2011.

Click here for the women’s start list

Mooloolaba will also be the first World Cup of the 2011 season for Team ITU, one of the foundations of the ITU’s Sport Development Programme. It provides funding and support for athletes from developing National Federations, who might not have otherwise had the chance to compete.  In addition to financial assistance, a team of coaches, physiotherapists and a bike mechanic is provided to ensure the team has the best race-day support.

 

The 2011 ITU International season officially gets underway when the men’s race starts at 3pm (local time) on Saturday March 26. The women’s race starts at 12.45pm on Sunday.

Results will be available on www.triathlon.org

 

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