The 2014 ITU triathlon World Cup season officially gets underway this weekend with 3 Irish triathletes towing the line for the Mooloolaba World Cup.
Bryan Keane opened his season 3 weeks ago at the Elwood Oceania Cup in Melbourne and has been honing and sharpening his fitness with Australian training group the ‘Wollongong Wizards’ since then.
For Irish teammates Conor Murphy and Ben Shaw, this will be their first taste of ITU racing this season and the Mooloolaba course will prove a stiff test with a top class field and rough seas forecast.
Now in its 12th year as a World Cup the course has been altered to a Sprint Distance and will consist of a choppy 750m swim with waves of 5-8 foot forecast, a 4 lap 20km bike route which takes in some technical sections and is likely to feature strong tail winds, followed by a flat out and back run.
“Great for spectators, hard to athletes.” Conor Murphy tells us.
The top talent has certainly come out to play in the early part of the season with 5 of last year’s top 10 ranked World Series athletes on the start line. World Number 3, Mario Mola will be among the favourites, however the fast running South African, Richard Murray will also fancy his chances.
Of the Irish it’s Bryan Keane who goes into the race with the highest ranking as he’ll wear number 20. New recruit Ben Shaw wears number 22 while Armagh man Conor Murphy will line up on the beach wearing number 31 out of 69 starters.
Murphy’s pre-race preparations haven’t been as smooth as he’d hoped but despite that he’s feeling confident.
“I got knocked down on Wednesday while out on the bike course but was very lucky and there was no damage to the bike, just bruising to my knee and side.”
“An Aussie lady pulled out onto the main road without looking… very lucky“
“I’m in good shape though and feeling strong. It’s not that I’ve done anything significantly different in training, I’ve just built on last season and as I’ve grown fitter and stronger my training has evolved.”
“If I can beat my start number and get into the top 20 that would be a good season opener.” Commented Murphy.
Brisbane born Ben Shaw is a former Junior Aquathlon World Champion and will relish the choppy seas as he is often to the fore pushing the pace, aiming to capitalise on any breakaways.
“I’ve had a consistent winter of training for the long season ahead. Mooloolaba will be my first race of the season so it’ll be interesting to see how the good training translates into a race performance.”
22 year old Shaw was 14th here last year but realises the standard will be different this weekend.
“The field last year wasn’t as strong or as deep. This year’s race will be a completely different type of race with it now being a sprint. Translating the winters training into race day performance is the main objective this weekend.”
As for Bryan Keane he’ll be hoping to raise his performance levels up a notch after his 12th place season opener at the Elwood Oceania Cup. A major goal for Keane and the rest of the Irish crew will be the opening World Triathlon Series in Auckland on April 6th, with this weekend’s race acting as perfect tester.
The action kicks off on Saturday morning with the elite women starting at 2:20am Irish time, while the men get underway at5:00am Irish time.