STATE OF PLAY

It might not be an Olympic sum­mer, but there’s more stel­lar triathlon ac­tion than ever to keep you en­ter­tained in 2018.

220 Triathlon Magazine - - Contents - TIM HEMING

A pre­view of the rac­ing year ahead

Ask a stranger what they know about triathlon, and even if they have lit­tle con­cept of the sport, it’s likely they’ll have some rec­ol­lec­tion of the fi­nal yards of that World Se­ries Grand Fi­nal in 2016.

The clip of Alis­tair Brown­lee sup­port­ing younger brother Jonny to the line in Cozumel has been viewed mil­lions of times across the globe, and – all health con­cerns aside - is per­haps the best ex­am­ple of drama only en­durance sport can pro­duce.

While there are no guarantees of sim­i­lar for 2018 (in fact, due to a rule change, Alis­tair’s ef­forts will now re­sult in a dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion), there are still rea­sons aplenty to tune in, and no triathlons will at­tract larger au­di­ences than the Com­mon­wealth Games (April 5 & 7) where they will at­tempt to re­peat their Glas­gow one-two fin­ish.

It will be tougher this time. The shorter sprint dis­tance on a flat­ter course in warmer climes on Gold Coast, bet­ter suits a clutch of young Aussies led by Jake Birtwhis­tle, while South Africans Richard Mur­ray and Henri Schoe­man have both al­ready won this sea­son – the lat­ter’s vic­tory in Abu Dhabi leav­ing Jonny Brown­lee a dis­tant sev­enth.

The women’s race is no less in­trigu­ing. Chas­ing Ber­muda’s cur­rent world champion Flora Duffy, will be Eng­land’s Vicky Holland, Jess Lear­month and So­phie Cold­well, Wales’s Non Stan­ford, and Scot­land’s Beth Pot­ter. If the race splits early, ex­pect Lear­month and Cold­well to chal­lenge, if it stays to­gether on the bike, Holland, Stan­ford and Pot­ter come into con­tention. Eng­land also has a mixed re­lay ti­tle to de­fend, and the wheel­chair rac­ers give para­tri its Com­mon­wealth bow.

A Thurs­day evening on the banks of Not­ting­ham’s River Trent will be the set­ting for the World Triathlon Mixed Re­lay Se­ries (June 7), that also marks the start of qual­i­fy­ing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, then it’s on to Leeds for the week­end for a WTS event only ri­valled for crowd sup­port by Ham­burg.

The Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship (Au­gust 9-11) at Strath­clyde Park is part of a new mul­ti­sport fes­ti­val, split be­tween Ber­lin and Glas­gow, the course suited to Lear­month.

Look out too for the Iron­man 70.3 World Cham­pi­onships (Septem­ber 1 & 2) in South Africa that could see the Brown­lee Vs Gomez duel that never was in Rio 2016, be­fore the WTS Grand Fi­nal, (Septem­ber 12-16) re­turns to Gold Coast, of­fer­ing di­vine ret­ri­bu­tion for Jodie Stimp­son, Eng­land’s 2014 Com­mon­wealth champion, who was over­looked to de­fend her ti­tle.

There is also the Iron­man World Cham­pi­onship (Oc­to­ber 13), now in its 40th year and streamed live from Hawaii, plus the mixed-up su­per short for­mat of Su­per League Triathlon (Septem­ber 29 & 30) in Jer­sey, and, fi­nally, Iron­man Bahrain 70.3 (Novem­ber/De­cem­ber (TBC)), where, should a fit Alis­tair Brown­lee have al­ready clinched the 70.3 world ti­tle, he’ll at­tempt to win a $1mil­lion prize – by far the big­gest in triathlon. What a year!

“The 70.3 Worlds could be the Brown­lee Vs Gomez duel we missed in Rio”

DANIEL SEEX

Cut­ting through the spin of tri to ad­dress the is­sues that mat­ter, Tim is a sports jour­nal­ist who has writ­ten ex­ten­sively on triathlon for the na­tional press.

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