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Hewitt And Ellice Race In Landmark World Cup Event

23rd May 2008

For immediate release from Tri NZ

Hewitt And Ellice Race In Landmark World Cup Event

New Zealand will be represented in Spain this weekend as the International Triathlon Union celebrates their 200th World Cup race at Madrid.

Olympic bound Andrea Hewitt is one of the favoured athletes in the elite women’s race while world number 127 Clark Ellice lines up in the men’s.

For Hewitt Madrid is something of a favourite stomping ground, with runner up finishes for the Christchurch athlete in the past two seasons, both behind world number one Vanessa Fernandes (Portugal).

Hewitt is racing for the first time at World Cup level since New Plymouth and since her confirmation as a member of the New Zealand team for Beijing. She warmed up for the race with a runner up finish in a European pro club league race last weekend.
For Fernandes, a victory would be a record-breaking 20th world cup title, an astounding accomplishment for the 22-year old world champion. Even more impressive considering this Sunday's race will be her 31st world cup start. Her 19 wins in 30 starts translates into a .633 winning percentage. Breaking the all-time record in Madrid would be fitting as it was the site of her first world cup win in 2003. Fernandes has won ever year since then, ensuring no other woman has tasted victory on the tough Madrid course.
An intriguing race within a race will be between German teammates and friends Joelle Franzmann and Christiane Pilz. With just one Olympic spot remaining, the first one across the line will earn a ticket to Beijing. Olympic berths are also at stake for the British athletes where young upstart Hollie Avil bids to become the first women on her country's Olympic team. Brits need a top-3 finish for a guaranteed selection while a top-8 will put them in the driver's seat for an Olympic spot.

Athletes to Watch - Elite Women:
Vanessa Fernandes (POR)
- 2007 World Champion, 2004 Olympian, 5-time European Champion, 19-time World Cup winner
Andrea Hewitt (NZL) - 2005 Under23 World Champion, selected to New Zealand Olympic team
Hollie Avil (GBR) - 2007 junior world champion, 2007 junior European champion, 2 World Cup medals (in first two career world cup starts)
Julie Ertel (USA) - 2007 U.S. National Champion, nominated to 2008 U.S. Olympic team
Joelle Franzmann (GER) - 2000 & 2004 Olympian
Erin Densham (AUS) - 2006 Under23 World Champion, nominated to Australian Olympic team

In the men’s race Ellice will have his work cut out to get near the podium; a more realistic goal will be top 25 in arguably the best quality field since New Plymouth as the Brits and Germans chase Olympic qualifying spots.

Spain's own Javier Gomez has to be considered the pre-race favourite even in spite of his disappointing 7th place finish at the European Championships. In 2006 Madrid was the site of his first world cup title and since then he has racked up eight more to be 4th all-time. This Sunday he seeks to become just the fourth man to reach the 10-win plateau while putting his 15 world cup podium streak on the line. The last time he did not podium in a world cup was March 3, 2006 in Doha where he finished 10th.

Madrid features a number of fascinating subplots with enormous Olympic implications. A high-powered British squad including 2006 world champion Tim Don, Will Clarke and veteran Andrew Johns races for Beijing selections. Meanwhile, Maik Petzold battles compatriots Andreas Raelert and Christian Prochnow for the final spot on the German Olympic team. Like the women's duel, the best of the three in Madrid will earn a spot on the Beijing start line. American Matt Reed looks to pull the U.S. ahead of Russia for the 8th and final spot for countries allowed to send the maximum of three men to the Olympics.

Athletes to Watch - Elite Men:
Javier Gomez (ESP)
- 2006 & 2007 World Cup series champion, 9-time World Cup winner
Tim Don (GBR) - 2006 World Champion, 2004 & 2000 Olympian, 4-time World Cup winner
Ivan Rana (ESP) - 2002 World Champion, 3-time World Cup winner, 2-time European Champion
Will Clarke (GBR) - 2006 Under23 World Champion, 2006 Under23 European Champion
Maik Petzold (GER) - 2004 Olympian, 3 career World Cup medals
Matthew Reed (USA) - 7 career World Cup medals, nominated to U.S. Olympic team

Start Times:
Elite Women – 8.15pmm on Sunday May 25 (Madrid time; UTC/GMT +2)
Elite Men – 11.00pm on Sunday May 25 (Madrid time; UTC/GMT +2)

Click here to log into ITU's Online Media Center
Click here to download Madrid Pre-Race Notes

Broadcast news footage is available through EBU, Reuters and SNTV.
Click here for Broadcast News details

Royalty free high-resolution photos will be available after the race at ITU's Media Centre. They will also be available the AP Photo wire.


© Scoop Media

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