By Erin Greene on 22/06/15 at 2:04 pm
The ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships return to Sweden for the third time this weekend, with the town of Motala debuting as the host of an all-star list of athletes. Camilla Pedersen (DEN) returns to defend her crown over the likes of Mary Beth Ellis (USA) and Asa Lundstrom (SWE), while the men’s field welcomes an impressive depth for the races on Saturday including Dirk Bockel (LUX), Cyril Viennot (FRA), Joe Gambles (AUS), Samuel Betten (AUS), and Peter Robertson (AUS).
The Championships will be contested over a two-lap 4km swim in the bay, followed by a picturesque three-lap hilly 120km bike and will be finished off with a three-lap 30km run that traverses the stunning shoreline of Lake Vattern. In addition to the elite titles, the event will offer age group and paratriathlon races.
In 2014, Pedersen pedaled her way to her first World Championship title just a year after enduring a training accident that nearly rendered her incapable of competing ever again. The Dane is back this year to defend her title close to her native home of Denmark.
American Ellis, who trains with both the top standard distance and long distance triathletes, clocked a top 10 finish at the IRONMAN World Championships last year in Kona thanks to speedy swimming and cycling. With 10km less on the run than an IRONMAN event, Motala may just be the perfect distance for Ellis to elicit the title.
But it’s Sweden’s own Lundstrom and Eva Nystrom that lineup with both experience and the hometown advantage. While Lundstrom is new to ITU racing she’s found success at IRONMAN events, having scored a top 20 finish in Kona last year. Nystrom, on the other hand, is dangerous on the bike and run as a former Long Distance Duathlon World Champion.
With two-time reigning World Champion Bertrand Billard sitting Motola out, the men’s race will see a new World Champ named. But with a start list that includes Bockel, Gambles, Betten, Robertson and more, it will be anything but easy to covet this crown.
Without Billard, compatriot Cyril Viennot (FRA) will look to upgrade his 2014 bronze medal to gold. A strong cyclist, the Frenchman has steadily increased his finishes in longer distances with a career-high fifth in Kona last year.
Back from injury, Bockel bodes an impressive CV that includes four top 10 IRONMAN finishes and an ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championship bronze medal. While a hip injury deterred his 2014 season, Bockel rocked back this year with a win at Challenge Denmark.
Gambles returns to ITU racing after taking silver in 2011, joining a strong contingency of Aussie men this weekend. A back-half racer, he’s since won numerous IRONMAN and Challenge titles.
One of the most successful ITU male athletes, Robertson continues his quest to conquer long distance triathlons. After retiring in 2010 with three world titles, a Commonwealth Games bronze medal & two Olympic berths, the Aussie returned in 2012 with a new hunger for the sport.
Likewise, Rasmus Henning (DEN) is making a return since retiring in 2012 after an incredible ITU career. Henning was most successful at the Olympic distance but also scored silver 14 years ago at the 2001 ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Champs.
While Samuel Betten is no match for Robertson’s and Henning’s history, the younger athlete is finding success in mid-distance racing & shouldn’t be discounted this weekend.
The men and women will take off together at 9:00am local time on Saturday. To convert the time to your zone, click here.
Find more details about this event - 2015 Motala ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships