Big names back for Yokohama

The third stop on the ITU World Triathlon Series features the return of Flora Duffy and Jonathan Brownlee.

| May 11, 2017 | NEWS

Flora Duffy on her way to the win at the Montreal World Cup last year.

Flora Duffy on her way to the win at the Montreal World Cup last year.

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

The third stop of the 2017 World Triathlon Series returns to Yokohama, Japan this weekend. Yokohama has been a mainstay on the WTS series since 2009. Renowned for the huge crowds that line the streets to watch the races, Yokohama is a popular race for athletes and fans alike.

Duffy is back ... can Hewitt make it three in a row?

After having to miss the first two WTS events of the season, last year's world champion, Flora Duffy, will be back on the start line in Japan this weekend. She'll have her work cut out for her as she tries to defend her world title as New Zealand's Andrea Hewitt leads the WTS series thanks to her two wins at Abu Dhabi and Gold Coast.

As we're used to at WTS races, though, those two are hardly the only ones we'll need to watch for the standard-distance race on Saturday. Great Britain's Non Stanford and Vicky Holland, Americans Katie Zaferes, Kirsten Kasper, Renee Tomlin and Summer Cook, Australia's Charlotte McShane, Gillian Backhouse and Ashleigh Gentle are all expected to compete for the podium.

Japan's hopes will be held up by Ai Ueda and Juri Ide. Ueda has silver (2014) and bronze medal (2016) finishes to her credit in Yokohama.

Brownlee is back, Gomez continues his comeback

Last year's Olympic silver medalist, Alistair Brownlee (GBR) makes his first ITU appearance since his collapse at the Grand Final in Cozumel last year. Brownlee is in for a tough battle for the win, though, as a stacked field is on hand.

After missing much of 2016 due to an injury that put him out of the Olympics, Javier Gomez (ESP) stormed back in 2017 with a couple of big wins at Ironman 70.3 Dubai and WTS Abu Dhabi. He followed those up with a fourth place finish over the sprint distance in Gold Coast. A two-time Yokohama champ (2014 and 2016) it's hard to bet against the current WTS leader.

His countrymen Fernando Alarza and Mario Mola will certainly be tough to beat - Alarza outsprinted Gomez at the Gold Coast race while Mola is the defending world champion and took the Gold Coast title.

Others to watch for include Brownlee's countryman Tom Bishop and training partner Richard Varga (SVK), Aussie's Jacob Birtwhistle and Ryan Bailie, Norway's Kristian Blummenfelt and Mexico's Crisanto Grajales.

The women will get the 2017 ITU World Triathlon Yokohama underway at 10:00 on Saturday, May 13, while the men will follow on Saturday at 13:00 local time. Follow all of the action live at triathlonlive.tv and on twitter @triathlonlive.