The 2nd leg of the World Triathlon Series touches down in Cape Town this weekend as the 8 race series makes its debut on the continent of Africa for the first time.
At the foot of Table Mountain the best triathletes in the world will race over a two lap 1500 meter V&A waterfront swim, followed by an eight-lap 40 kilometre city centre bike and four-lap 10 kilometre run.
Ireland is once again well represented in the most prestigious series in triathlon, broadcast in 160 countries worldwide, with 3 athletes making the start line. 2013 WTS Grand Final Silver medallist and former World Number 7, Aileen Reid will make a return to racing this weekend while Bryan Keane and Conor Murphy on the men’s side will be looking to back up the superb start they make in the series 3 weeks ago.
The women’s race will feature 51 starters with Aileen facing some stiff competition in her first race of the year.
“I’m excited and nervous to race this weekend in Cape Town.” She commented.
“At one stage I didn’t think I’d get much racing done at all this year. I had a struggle with various injuries so I’m just glad to be fit and well enough to return to my training group. I really have to thank the physiotherapists at SINI, especially Chris McNicholl for the support and getting me going again.”
Aileen’s training group, the D-Squad includes the likes of WTS Auckland winner Jodie Stimpson and Olympic Silver Medallist Lisa Norden, meaning she can train with the best of the best on a daily basis.
“This is my first time in South Africa and I’ll get a good look at the course before the race though I expect it to be a wetsuit swim, flat but technical and windy bike and a flat run.”
On the men’s side Bryan Keane and Conor Murphy got off to a flying start in Auckland with Keane 16th and Murphy 22nd. Their early season results give them a good ranking going into the race as they line up on the start pontoon in 15th and 17threspectively.
For Conor Murphy the start number makes little difference though. “Really at World Series level the start ranking makes very little difference to the swim effort needed. Everyone is so close in swim ability that no matter what happens it will be stacked at the turn buoys and ballistic from the gun.”
Following the opening leg of the series in Auckland, Murphy travelled back home to Armagh for a training block before flying over to Cape Town.
“Home was awesome, I train and race is some of the best places in the world but there’s something special about training at home.”
“It can be hard getting over the jet lag and fatigue from a World Series race and all the travel but everyone is in the same boat so we just have to get on with it and consciously manage our recovery.”
Currently sitting 22nd in the World Triathlon Series, Conor Murphy will be aiming for another good showing against tough opposition.
Cork man Bryan Keane put in a scintillating 32:08 10km run in Auckland off the back of one of the toughest 40km bike courses in triathlon last time out so is clearly in good form. However despite his 16th place finish he wasn’t totally satisfied.
“I messed up a bit. Swim was ok and ended up in the second pack but I had a golden ticket to the lead pack in the form of Tom Davison of New Zealand.”
“Tom was riding in a domestique role and both he and Ryan Sisson got across to the front group of 10 or so guys.”
There is no Tom Davison on this occasion but if Keane can make the front pack off the bike he has a shot of a top 10 finish with his run speed.
With Alistair Brownlee a late withdrawal from the race citing lack of fitness the victory is likely to be a battle between his younger brother Jonathan Brownlee and the Spanish duo of Javier Gomez and Mario Mola. Hometown hero Richard Murray will be highly motivated to spoil the party as he bids for his 4th successive victory here, albeit those all came over half the distance in the Cape Town African Cup.
The women’s race can be watched live at www.triathlonlive.tv or on the BBC Red Button at 2pm on Saturday 26th and the men’s race at 2pm on Sunday 27th.