This weekend, the long awaited debut of Chicago on the ITU World Triathlon Series schedule will come to fruition. It is the only U.S. stop on the 2014 ITU World Triathlon Series circuit.
Universal Sports Network will broadcast the elite women’s race Saturday, June 28, at 1:30 PM ET LIVE and the elite men’s race Sunday, June 29, at 5 PM ET.
Below is a preview of both races:
After becoming the first American woman to win a World Triathlon Series event last year in San Diego, Gwen Jorgensen will look to repeat her winning ways on home soil yet again. If her last two wins in Yokohama and London are any indicator, Jorgensen is well primed to duplicate her 2013 win. As Lake Michigan will likely require a wetsuit, which could work in Jorgensen’s favor, the cold temperatures have also taken the American out of the race before it’s begun. But as we saw in Cape Town, that won’t stop this powerhouse from running herself onto the podium.
While the Brits like to podium in pairs, Helen Jenkins will be Great Britain’s big hope with Jodie Stimpson off the start list. After missing a year of competition to rehab an injury, Jenkins blasted back onto the racing scene as if she never missed it, scoring top three performances in Auckland and Cape Town. Like Groff, she’s dangerous across all the disciplines, which will make for interesting race strategies amongst the ladies.
Ai Ueda (JPN) is hot off a hat trick of wins at the Huatulco World Cup, as well as a silver from WTS Yokohama, meaning the pocket rocket Japanese boasts the most powerful weapon of all – confidence. Ueda has also stated she likes a hot and humid race, which the Blues City will certainly offer up. Emma Moffatt (AUS) has yet to score a top three finish this year, but don’t count the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist out.
Chicago will see a school of solid swimmers start with Paula Oliveira (BRA), Yuka Sato (JPN), Claudia Rivas (MEX) and Carolina Routier (ESP) on the lists. Oliveria, Rivas and Sato are also stealthy cyclists, which could bode well for all around athletes like Jenkins and Moffatt, as they can all match that fast front end speed. Jenkins and Moffatt have also each won on US soil at WTS events, so they know what it takes. And while the race won’t be won on the swim, its pace could certainly determine who crosses the finish line first.
Having won three of the four WTS races this season, Javier Gomez (ESP) remains the man to beat. While he faltered slightly in London with a lack of explosive speed off the end of the 5km run, Gomez doesn’t take lightly to subpar performances. Expect the Spaniard to be back to his conquering ways in Chicago. Without the presence of the Brownlees, there’s no reason why Gomez shouldn’t clench his fourth win of the season, which would subsequently be his first ever WTS gold on US soil.
Mario Mola (ESP) and Richard Murray (RSA) each cemented their seats on the men’s leaderboard in London with mind blowing speed. Although their velocity has produced higher results in sprint distances, both athletes have this year proved they can step up the speed over double the distance. This weekend, with just Gomez driving the pace, these speed demons have a solid shot at medals.
While the three jump out as heavy favourites, the men’s race is riddled with potential game changers. Four-time Olympian Hunter Kemper returns to WTS racing for the first time since last year. Despite varied results the last several years, Jarrod Shoemaker will start as the only American man to have won a WTS event.
Dmitry Polyanskiy (RUS) shouldn’t be discounted. Polyanskiy captured bronze in Cape Town when he held off Mola and Murray on the run, and is hot off a silver from the European Championships. Look for him to lead out of the swim and charge for the bike course out front.
Portugal’s Joao Pereira perked attention with his bronze medal in the sprint London race, but it remains to be seen if he can spread his speed out over a 10km run. Meanwhile, compatriot Joao Silva has yet to produce top results this year but can certainly compete with the best of them, and Ryan Sissons (NZL) can sizzle on the bike if he makes it out of the water in solid position.
(From ITU World Triathlon Series Press Release)