The Windy City will host the fifth stop of the World Triathlon Series, the highest level of competition on the ITU circuit. This is the first year Chicago will host the series, after San Diego served as a U.S. host for races in 2012 and 2013. It will also serve as a preview of sorts for what will be an even bigger event next year. In 2015, the Chicago event will be the Grand Final event, with world championship and Olympic qualification spots on the line.
The Elite Course
The elites will compete in front of an anticipated 75,000 spectators, with women kicking off the action on Saturday and the men closing out the weekend on Sunday. Athletes will jump off of a pontoon for a two-lap 1500m swim in Monroe Harbor. After exiting the lake, athletes will take on an eight-lap 40K bike course, with a stretch down Columbus Drive and onto the streets of Downtown Chicago. Finally, they’ll drop their bikes in T2 before running four laps to make up 10K. They’ll finish at Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park.
All eyes will be on Gwen Jorgensen, as she aims to take another WTS win on U.S. soil and retain her No. 1 ranking in the series. Jorgensen, who calls nearby St. Paul, Minn. her home base and went to school at the University of Wisconsin, has been dominating recent races by turning in strong swim and bike legs, before dominating the competition on the run. Her biggest threats will come from Helen Jenkins (GBR), Ai Ueda (JPN) and Emma Moffatt (AUS). With Jodie Stimpson (GBR) and Sarah Groff (USA), currently ranked second and third, respectively, in the series not on the start list, Chicago serves as a big opportunity for several athletes. Jorgensen has the potential to build a commanding lead, while athletes like Jenkins and Moffatt have the opportunity to climb up the rankings.
With three of the four WTS race wins under his belt this season, Javier Gomez (ESP) is the No. 1-ranked athlete heading into this weekend. Though Gomez, who will also likely be a favorite among the crowds, is by far the most decorated athlete on this start list, Mario Mola (ESP) and Richard Murray (RSA) have proven they’re capable of going toe-to-toe with Gomez. Mola and Murray left Gomez behind at the last WTS race in London and sprinted to the finish line, with Mola getting the upper-hand and the win. That was a sprint race though, and the Olympic distance is Gomez’s strength.
How To Watch
Both of the elite races will air live on the Universal Sports Network, both on air and online at Universalsports.com to authenticated users. A live webcast is also available for purchase on Triathlonlive.tv.
The Age-Group Races
In between the professional races, a field of 4,000 age-group triathletes from 49 states and 31 countries, as well as 60 elite paratriathletes, will also get to take on the streets of Chicago. The age-group races will take place Sunday morning at 6 a.m. and will feature both sprint and Olympic distances. Competitors will start in Monroe Harbor and finish at the same venue as the professionals at Buckingham Fountain.