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New Zealand Take on World Team Championship in Lausanne

18th August 2011

New Zealand Take on World Team Championship in Lausanne

The International Triathlon Union continues their push for team racing to be included as an Olympic sport when the ITU Team Triathlon World Championships take place in Lausanne, Switzerland this weekend with New Zealand represented by two teams.

The Team event will be raced on the same weekend as the ITU World Sprint Championships, with individuals racing over the shorter 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run while the team event is over even shorter distances.

Adding to the prestige this weekend though is the fact the individual sprint event has been included as a round in the ITU World Champs Series, with points earned counting towards the overall series.

Tri NZ National Coach Greg Fraine says that as well as a chance for the likes of Andrea Hewitt to further strengthen her current world number two ranking in the individual race, this is a chance for the New Zealand athletes to capitalise on the strong team culture that exists throughout the year.

“The format is very exciting and the athletes love racing this team style of event. So much of our culture is team based through the year, yet the athletes all race head to head each time they step up to the start line. This team event is the chance to unite and race for each other and fully appreciate that silver fern on the uniform as a collective.

“It won’t be easy though, especially given the athletes we won’t have there. The competition is also very focused on this event as the ITU push to have the team event included in the 2016 Olympics and countries look to gain experience.”

Those defections Fraine is talking about are due largely to the men refocusing on Beijing as another shot at qualifying for London 2012 but injuries too have played their part. However despite Bevan Docherty, Kris Gemmell, Ryan Sissons, Kate McIlroy and Debbie Tanner not being available, the depth of the sport is highlighted with two competitive teams on the start line.

“We have been hit with injuries and withdrawals due to changes in race plans for the end of season. The aim however is to podium and we are looking at the order of the team to maximise our chances. All the athletes are focused as a unit and the key is to keep in contact with the lead group throughout then it comes down to a good last cycle leg, transition and the final run to the finish. Andrea is obviously our in-form athlete and we will look to have her lead our number one team off.”

The strongest of the two New Zealand teams will be headlined by current world number two Hewitt with Nicky Samuels, Clark Ellice and Tony Dodds. The second team is a great chance for some younger female athletes to gain experience at this level of racing with Rebecca Kingsford and Penny Hayes joined by the more experienced Martin Van Barneveld and James Elvery - fresh from his front riding tactics in London.

New Zealand finished third at the event last year.

Each team member completes a super-sprint distance triathlon consisting of a 275m swim, 6km bike and 1.5km swim before tagging their next teammate.

In the individual ITU World Sprint Championship, Andrea Hewitt, Nicky Samuels, Rebecca Kingsford and Penney Hayes will race in the women’s event. In the men’s race Ryan Sissons, Clark Ellice, James Elvery, Martin Van Barneveld and Tony Dodds will line up chasing World Champs Series ranking points.

ITU Elite World Sprint Championships
(also carries World Champs Series points)
Elite Men
10.50pm Saturday 20th August NZTElite Women
1.06am Sunday 21st August NZT
ITU World Team Championships
11.45pm Sunday 21st August NZT
Team 1: Andrea Hewitt, Nicky Samuels, Clark Ellice, Tony DoddsTeam 2: Rebecca Kingsford, Penny Hayes, Martin van Barneveld, James Elvery.


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