By Erin Greene on 31/08/15 at 9:48 am
This weekend, ITU and the International Powerman Association (IPA) will present the ITU Powerman Long Distance Duathlon World Championships for the eighth time. Reigning champions Emma Pooley (GBR) and Gaël Le Bellec (FRA) will attempt to defend their championship titles on Sunday in Switzerland over a tough 10km run, 150km bike and 30km run course.
Last year, the athletes both surprised by upsetting pre-race favourites Eva Nystrom (SWE) and Rob Woestenborghs (BEL) to win their first world titles. Pooley, who is an Olympic silver medal cyclists, did so in record fashion, setting a new course time of 6:47.27, which was more than 16 minutes faster than the one set by Swiss Karin Thürig in 2002.
The big favourite to get the women’s title in Zofingen again is indeed Pooley. However, Eva Nyström (SWE), Susanne Svendsen (DEN) and Julia Viellehner (GER) will put pressure on Pooley for the top spot.
“This year I want to do something similar as last year, if this is possible,” said the Brit who is now living near Zurich.
Svendsen will also be fighting for the title. The Dane was dominated this year’s race in Weyer from the beginning to the end, winning the Austrian race for the third time. However, in Zofingen, Svendsen has so far only made in the top 10 on three occasions.
“I’m in top form right now, I don’t have any asthma problems and I feel mentally stronger than ever,” said Svendsen.
A bit more discrete, two time World Champ Nyström, who finished second last year to Pooley, said, “My goal in Zofingen is to step on the podium again.”
In the men’s race Le Bellec, Søren Bystrup (DEN) and Anthony Le Duey (FRA) start as the men to watch with former champions Rob Woestenborghs and Joerie Vansteelant out of the long distance course. Woestenborghs will contest the shorter distance, while Vansteelant will be in Zofingen as a coach as opposed to athlete this year.
Le Bellec, however, is ready to defend his crown.
“I’m ready for Zofingen and I will enjoy every second at the Powerman Zofingen no matter if I’ll win again or not,” said the 27-year-old Le Bellec.
Bystrup, who recently took second at the Powerman Austria in Weyer over a 10km run, 60km cycling and 10km run course, wants more than just a bronze medal like he earned in 2012 and in 2014.
“I wanted to win in Weyer and I want to be the best in Zofingen as well,” Bystrup said.
Like Bystrup, this year’s Powerman Austria winner, Pieter Rijnders (BEL), also likes longer tracks and is tough to beat on the run.
Le Duey, who was third in both 2009 and 2010, has a plan to improve his downhill speed to step up to the podium again.
“In Weyer, I had problems with the speed when I went downhill on the bike. I have to improve this in Zofingen otherwise it‘s getting very difficult to step on the podium again.”
The elite women will kick off action on Sunday, September 6 at 8:00am, while the men will race one hour later at 9:00am.
Text written by Raphael Galliker
Find more details about this event - 2015 Zofingen ITU Powerman Long Distance Duathlon World Championships