As the first race of Olympic qualification period ahead of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, Yokohama holds special significance in this year’s World Triathlon Series. This Saturday marks the first opportunity to gain important points towards selection for a berth in Rio. And while the course may be flat, its technical bike corners require constant breaking from high speeds that guarantee a lingering burn for the athletes.
Yokohama will be the first race of the 2014 ITU World Triathlon Series that will see Javier Gomez, Jonathan Brownlee and Alistair Brownlee go head to head in combat. The trio will duke it out over a two-lap swim, nine-lap bike and four-lap standard distance course in the Yokohama harbour on Saturday.
In the last 20 times that Javier Gomez and Alistair Brownlee have met at WTS races, Alistair has won on 15 of those occasions. But that was then and this is now. Gomez is not waiting to make a move in the Threadneedle rankings, having destroyed the competition, including younger Brownlee brother Jonathan, in the last two WTS events. But as we saw last year in San Diego when Alistair charged away from the competition for the win, missing the first few races of the season has no impact on his ability to win.
But what Jonathan and Gomez have that Alistair doesn’t is experience racing in Yokohama. This Saturday will mark the first time the London Olympic gold medalist competes on the course, which could fuel his motivation but may also work against him. Jonathan, however, started his 2013 season with a bang in Yokohama, trudging through a wet and muddy course for the top spot ahead of Gomez. And while Gomez has raced here three of the last four Yokohama events, he has yet to win in the Japanese city. Conclusion? You’re just going to want to watch this one.
Read more: Triathlon.org
All of the 2013 Yokohama medalists will return to their spot of glory this year for another shot at important points towards the Threadneedle rankings. Last year Gwen Jorgensen (USA) collected her second consecutive career WTS win with her signature fiery run across the flat course. Behind her, Emma Moffatt (AUS) and Jodie Stimpson (GBR) gutted it out over the blue carpet with a smiling Moffatt just edging out the Brit.
This year, Stimpson will line up first having won each of the last two WTS events this year. While Jorgensen has had a slower start to the year, her run was anything but lethargic in Cape Town where she blasted past the field making up a two-minute deficit for bronze. A solid all-around triathlete, Moffatt won’t have many opportunities to break way which means she’ll need to stay up front if she wants a shot at a repeat medal performance. But with top threats like Helen Jenkins (GBR) and Anne Haug (GER) off the start list, it will be anybody’s race for the taking.
Read more: Triathlon.org