By Paula Kim on 18/11/11 at 1:24 am
After tackling bike familiarisation on Friday morning, plenty of talk at the pre-race press conference centered around just how tough the 2011 Auckland ITU World Cup bike course will be this Sunday.
New Zealand’s own Andrea Hewitt, Nicky Samuels, Bevan Docherty, Ryan Sissons and Kris Gemmell all couldn’t wait to tackle that leg, which includes eight laps of a 5km course and three climbs in each lap, as they welcomed the chance to compete at home. The international contingent included South Africa’s Kate Roberts, Slovenia’s Mateja Simic, the Czech Republic’s Vendula Frintova and France’s Laurent Vidal.
The press conference was held in the cloud, on the Queens Wharf waterfront, where the race will start and finish this Sunday. This World Cup race is also a preview of the 2012 ITU World Championship Series Grand Final.
Nicky Samuels (NZL)
On the bike course:
“It’s challenging and that’s what we want the cycle course to be.”
On Olympic qualification:
“I think it’s in the back of all of our minds because we haven’t qualified yet, Andrea (Hewitt) is the only one that’s safe for the guys and the girls. For me, this is the start of the season, well my 2012 season really, I’ve already had a break I had a break after Yokohama so I’m getting back into it and this race is not very good timing, but we’ll be here to race in Auckland because it’s our home country, and it’s good for our sponsors and supporters.”
Kate Roberts (RSA)
On what she is hoping for on Sunday:
“Just a competent race, it’s going to be a really tough bike course, I didn’t think it was going to be that tough. My jaw dropped a bit when I went up the hills today. But it’s a going to be a great course, great field. It’s a lovely city, the Kiwis are great people and I’m really happy and excited to race on Sunday.”
Andrea Hewitt (NZL)
On how she prepared for Auckland after wins in Beijing and Yokohama:
“Since then I’ve just tried to continue my training and to keep fit for this race, I really wanted to race in Auckland and I wanted to keep going and I’m having my holiday my afterwards, so hopefully I’ll get to go out there on Sunday and have a good one.
“I’ve just tried to tick over my training, I haven’t been doing all the speedwork that I had done up into Beijing and Yokohama, so we’ll just have to see how I go on Sunday.”
On racing at home:
It’s great to be racing finally in New Zealand, I haven’t done a lot of races here. Especially a World Cup, New Plymouth was the last time, and it’s great to have the race in Auckland, in the CBD and hopefully we get the crowds.”
Mateja Simic (SLO)
On the support of Team ITU:
“It gives me a big opportunity to race the very important races, like World Cups, and to collect points for the Olympic Games. So this is my only chance for the Olympics, so I’m really grateful that I was invited into this group, into the ITU sport development group, I’m really grateful.”
On whether her possible Olympic qualification will help boost triathlon’s popularity in Slovenia:
“We are trying to make triathlon popular in Slovenia and it’s a big step for my country.”
Vendula Frintova (CZE)
On the bike leg:
“The course is really tough, I think it’s exactly what the Kiwi girls and Kiwi boys wanted. Because I came straight from Europe and winter is coming to Europe I didn’t cycle a lot, so I have big respect for this course.”
Laurent Vidal (FRA)
On his year so far:
“It was great, I mean I’m right in my Olympic campaign. My goal this year was really to qualify for the French team in 2011 and then the only solution was to get a top eight in London so I pretty much did all my year around that and I did it with a sixth. So it was a good year, I was maybe a little bit disappointed I didn’t get any podium, but I achieved my goal which was racing strong in London and Beijing in the Grand Final. Now this is the last straight until the Olympics and this is the second part of the plan.”
Bevan Docherty (NZL)
On how he thinks the race on Sunday will pan out:
“It’s quite an interesting time of the year actually, a lot of us have either had a break or are at the end of our season, so not a hell of a lot rides on this apart from Olympic qualifying points for us obviously. Everybody is playing games, so you obviously don’t want to be going super well at this point in time, but then again… I’m here to win the race. So it’s kind of mixed emotions, I’m going to give it everything I’ve got. Certainly a course like this is an advantage for me and the Kiwis, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
On how the bike leg will change the race:
“I guess throughout the year for those of you who follow the events there seems to be quite a large front pack and it seems to be relatively static throughout the bike course and then just a super fast run. A course like this is going to change the dynamic so much, there is going to be smaller groups, and the cycle is going to play a bigger part, it’s going to open up opportunities for guys to attack on the bike and make something of the bike.
“Whereas on flatter courses there seems to be that lack of enthusiasm to make anything of the bike, it just allows the stronger cyclists to make something of the course and mix it up. And if the stronger runners are there at the end of the bike, they are going to have a lot more lactate in their legs to be able to run through the last 10 Ks. I personally think it makes it fairer and it makes it more of a triathlon course, so it should advantage the Kiwis. So I know this French guy (Vidal) isn’t bad on the hills as well, he’s part Kiwi anyway.”
Ryan Sissons (NZL)
On why he thinks the course will suit the home contigent:
“I think all our terrain around here is really hilly, so a course like this just means that we are pretty much racing on what we train on. I’m looking forward to it, I did it for the first time yesterday… So I’m really excited to see how it plays out on race day.”
On the potential for Auckland to become a regular part of the ITU circuit:
“Racing at home is always great and getting this race in the world champs series throughout the next couple of years or further would be great. We don’t often get to race a big race like this at home, and I think the venue, the course and the atmosphere on Sunday is going to be great and to have it here in years to come would be fantastic.”
Kris Gemmell (NZL)
On his year so far:
“It’s awesome to be back in New Zealand, it’s been a long tour away, it’s been seven months away and I only arrived back this morning. It’s just a different feeling already, so it’s great to be back here and to ride the course this morning…it will probably be one of the hardest triathlons next year, at the World Championship Grand Final, I’m pretty sure of that.
“The year started off pretty well for me, I put in some pretty hard yards in terms of the amount of base training I was doing over summer and I was pretty sure that that was going to lead to some decent results overseas. When it came time to going overseas and those races cropped up that I wanted to be going well at, I just had a few issues I couldn’t get around and people around me couldn’t work out what was going on. So, you know, I don’t like making any excuses but something wasn’t right. I knew it wasn’t right. I knew the training I was putting it, I was getting more out of it than the results showed. So hopefully I’ve found the reason why and I’m trying to turn it around in the last six weeks. I’ve really put my head down and trained really hard in a place that is really familiar to me. I’m really looking forward to racing this weekend and being home in front of family and friends and just putting on a good show for all the people in New Zealand and in Auckland.”
Find more details about this event - 2011 Auckland ITU Triathlon World Cup