Auckland World Triathlon Series suits Irish Trio
Three Irish Triathletes will take to the stage for the biggest show in triathlon this weekend as the 2014 World Triathlon Series gets underway.
Auckland will host the opening leg of the series as the world’s best triathletes commence their battle to be crowned World Champion. The series will land in some of the most iconic cities in the world including Auckland, Cape Town, Yokohama, London, Chicago, Hamburg, Stockholm and the Grand Final in Edmonton.
With 2.25 million dollars up for grabs and 161 million people tuning into the series from 160 different countries, Irish triathletes will be keen to impress on the world stage.
Bryan Keane, Conor Murphy and Ben Shaw all have a sufficient ranking in order to gain a start this weekend while last year’s world number 7, Aileen Reid from Derry will keep her powder dry until round 2 in Cape Town.
Cork man Bryan Keane is the top ranked Irish athlete in the race and will line up wearing number 23 from a capacity 66 starters. As a former professional cyclist the tough bike leg should suit him.
“There are not many courses like this on the ITU circuit. To be competitive on this course you have to make sure your bike is very strong and that is the key to running well here, so getting off the 40km bike it’s more of a strength run rather than pure speed.”
Keane opted out of the New Plymouth World Cup two weeks ago as he had one eye on Auckland.
“Doing New Plymouth would have meant 3 races in 4 weeks with the hardest race coming at the end.”
“For me it would not be possible to recover between races and hit good training too. We have very specific bike training for this course in Auckland and adding in an extra race that I didn’t need for my world ranking would have taken away from this preparation.”
“With a good race this weekend it will move my world ranking into the 30’s and ultimately my goal of hitting the 20’s by the end of the season.”
As for Conor Murphy he has also been building his world ranking since he turned professional in 2011 and has gained his first World Triathlon Series start thanks to his ever improving results.
“This will be my first World Series race but there will not be much difference in racing compared to the first two World Cups of the season, they were both a very high standard.”
“But yes the field will be slightly stronger and there will be much more fanfare so it’s a matter of keeping calm, racing hard and not getting too worked up for the big occasion.”
The bruised hip Conor picked up when he was knocked off his bike by a car 3 weeks ago has been progressing well thanks to intensive physio treatment.
“It hasn’t significantly affected my preparation.”
“I competed in a local 8km Cross Country race here in New Plymouth at the weekend as a tester. I won it and it felt good so I’m looking forward to racing.”
22 year old Ben Shaw is among the youngest athletes to make the starting line and will wear number 28 towards the middle of the start pontoon. The chaos of a mass start and 66 athletes all trying to round a turn buoy after just 300 meters doesn’t seem to faze Shaw as he regularly exits the water at the head of the field.
Two weeks ago in New Plymouth a solid swim set him up for a break away attempt and he shot off the front of the peloton with just Dan Wilson of Australia for company. He’s quickly gaining a reputation as an aggressive racer who likes to mix things up and make it difficult for the traditionally quick runners.
“In previous years I don’t think the race has been raced hard enough but this year should be different” he commented.
His bike break away last time out was backed up by a 15min 40second 5km run which brought him home in a fine 16th place.
“It was the best I’ve run off a bike break” he commented after the race.
”The run is all about strength and this isn’t developed overnight. It’s about being fatigue resistance at pace, which I’m getting better at.”
The elite men’s race will consist of a 1500 meter swim, 40 kilometer bike and 10 kilometer run and will get underway at3:30am Irish time on Sunday.
Live coverage and race highlights from both the men’s and women’s races are available from 1am at www.triathlonlive.tv and on the BBC Red Button.