By Erin Greene on 25/03/15 at 7:31 pm
The second stop of the ITU World Triathlon Series touches down in Auckland this Sunday, which includes a roster of the highest star-studded potential all vying to take home the next circuit title in the season’s first standard distance race of the year. The world’s finest will battle it out on a choppy two-lap harbour swim, hilly eight-lap bike and finish it off with a four-lap run course.
With a blowout finish, the defending World Champion Gwen Jorgensen (USA) secured the first 2015 WTS win in Abu Dhabi. After being down nearly a minute, the top runner showcased her foot-to-pavement skills and made up the time to secure the gold-medal finish and reaffirm herself as the one to chase.
Jorgensen claimed success with the same strategy in Auckland in 2012 when she came from behind to run herself into silver medal position. But last year’s race told a different story when she got caught up in a bike crash and finished 12th – the only time she didn’t finish on the WTS podium last year.
The Americans are on a hot streak right now, having finished 1-2 in the rankings last year, and having started out the 2015 season in the same way. With Katie Zaferes and Sarah True on the start list, expect some red, white, and blue on the podium.
Joining the lineup is New Zealand’s own Andrea Hewitt, whose cycling skills will serve her well on this leg-burning course. While Hewitt has yet to step on the podium in Auckland at a WTS race, she picked up a win in the race when it was a World Cup in 2011. A strong cyclist well suited for the leg-burning course, Hewitt’s run appears more on point than ever after she posted the third-fastest run split of the day in Abu Dhabi.
But it’s Germany’s Anne Haug who knows true success in Auckland, having collected two gold and a silver medal here. Despite a disappointing 2014 season, as one of the strongest bikers on the Series, Haug knows how to handle the hilly bike course. Haug and Hewitt will have company on the bike with equally impressive riders Olympic silver medallist Lisa Norden and Flora Duffy toeing the line. If these ladies get away on the bike, it will be tough to reel them in.