|The BG Triathlon World Cup circuit travels to the continent of Africa for only the second time in its 14 year history this Sunday, May 13th for the 2007 Richards Bay BG Triathlon World Cup in the Republic of South Africa. One hundred and thirty elite triathletes from 32 countries will compete in the final leg of the first Olympic qualification period this weekend with defending champions Emma Snowsill and Brad Kahlefeldt of Australia not in attendance.|
Without the two top women’s contenders in Richards Bay, Portuguese athlete Vanessa Fernandes is also not in attendance, many women have their sights on the top of the podium. Joelle Franzmann of Germany did not race here last year but is in good early-season form, as demonstrated by her 5th fastest run at the world cup in Lisbon last weekend, in a top field, despite crashing on the final lap of the bike.
Lisbon BG Triathlon World Cup bronze medalist Christiane Pilz, also of Germany, is in South Africa, back in top form after recovering from a number of nagging injuries that has kept her off the world cup circuit for a couple of years. The swimming and running strengths of the German duo is sure to put the two near the top of the podium on Sunday.
The Brits are also in contention this weekend with Liz Blatchford and Andrea Whitcombe on the start list. Blatchford is looking to get back on the podium after a 2006 season plagued by injury. Former 5000m Olympian, Whitcombe, is always a threat with 20 top-10 finishes in her career. Only on the podium three times however, Whitcombe has a good chance to be there this weekend.
Nadia Cortassa of Italy is also a top contender along with current Junior world champion Kirsten Sweetland of Canada. The 18-year old, Sweetland has had a great start to her Olympic-distance racing career with a top-15 finish in every one of her first four world cup starts.
In the men’s event, with the last minute withdrawal of current world champion Tim Don of Great Britain, the gold medal is up for grabs. In his place, however, wearing number one will be young countryman Oliver Freeman who, after a strong fourth place finish in Lisbon, skyrocketed up the world cup rankings.
With only two previous world cup winners, Reto Hug of Switzerland, who hasn’t won since 2001, and Volodymyr Polikarpenko of Ukraine, on the start list it is the chance for many young athletes to add the distinction to their resume.
The Swiss team has brought their two heavy-hitters in former world championship silver medalist Hug and Athens Olympic bronze medalist Sven Riederer. Hug knows the Richards Bay course well as he raced here last year with a silver medal placing.
Hometown favourite and current African champion Hendrik DeVilliers of South Africa is hoping to finally make it to the world cup podium with the support and cheers of his fellow South Africans.
A number of young men also to watch include former Junior world champion, Terenzo Bozzone of New Zealand, Brent McMahon of Canada, Brendon Sexton of Australia and Andriy Glushchenko of Ukraine.
The women and men will take the start line at 11:00 GMT+1 and 14:30 GMT+1, respectively.
All the action will be broadcast live over the internet on Tricast live!
Click here for up-to-date athlete start lists and race information
photo Getty Images
photo Anton Vos
By Ian Chadband
By Alex Sharp
By Alex Sharp