BEAT THE CLOCK
Could time trial heats change the face of triathlon?
A NEW RACING format will see triathletes compete in fast and furious heats to earn their place in a grand final.
If successful, it could change the face of triathlon racing.
The new time trial qualification format, making its debut at the ITU Triathlon World Cup 2016 in Kitzbühel on 19 June, will mean the top performers racing twice in the same day.
Supporters say it will mean a fairer playing field as each racer gets a clear, uninhibited race start allowing them to perform to the best of their ability and earn a coveted spot in the final.
The time trial qualification over a shorter distance (twothirds the distance of a standard sprint) will be held first thing in the morning. Athletes will go off at 30 second intervals with the top 30 racers advancing to a super-sprint distance (a third of the distance of a regular sprint) final later in the day.
“Kitzbühel is known for its innovating formats,” said ITU president and IOC member Marisol Casado. “In 2013, athletes endured one of the toughest races we’ve ever presented as they climbed and ran up Kitzbühel Horn Mountain as a part of the World Triathlon Series.
“As we continue exploring ways in which we can evolve the sport, it’s my pleasure to see this new format tested out in such a forward-thinking place like Kitzbühel.”
The fast and furious format will provide both an ideal race for athletes to hone their speed ahead of the Rio Olympics and make the event more exciting for spectators and TV viewers, say organisers. “We are sure this new format will highlight the ability for individuals to perform,” said local organising committee director Herwig Grabner.
“The shorter distance in the finals will be highly attractive to television broadcasters, which will enable us to show spectators how fast and attractive our sport is.”
The dynamic, quick-tempo race style also provides a strong platform for Junior and U23 athletes to prepare for the leap to elite racing, adds the ITU.
The forward-thinking Kitzbuhel event