All eyes will be on Flora Duffy this weekend at the ITU World Triathlon Bermuda. We preview the inaugural WTS race on the tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean.
April 25, 2018 | RACES|
Fresh off a Commonwealth Games win and as the two-time defending world champion, Bermuda can't wait to have the opportunity to watch their very own Flora Duffy compete against the world's best on the weekend at the ITU World Triathlon Bermuda. In the men's race Henri Schoeman (RSA) is the man to beat after soloing away to a win at the inuagural WTS event in Abu Dhabi and, like Duffy, taking gold at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
There's a good chance that most of the island's 65,000 inhabitants will be on hand to cheer Duffy on in the women's race. On paper the course seems perfectly suited to her swim at or near the front, breakaway on the bike and finish with a strong run style that has seen her dominate ITU events for the past 18 months. Each of the 10 laps on the bike course features a tough climb up Corkscrew hill that will certainly separate the strongest cyclists from the rest. That's followed by a 10 km relatively flat run which is sure to be lined with Bermudans cheering their hero along.
After crashing out of the Abu Dhabi race, Duffy won't be wearing bib #1 on the weekend - that honor will go to the winner of that first 2018 WTS race, Rachel Klamer (NED), who is another athlete suited for the tough Bermuda course. Canadian Joanna Brown bounced back from a broken shoulder to take bronze at the Commonwealths and is another athlete suited to tough courses. Vicky Holland finished in fourth behind Brown on the Gold Coast, so she will no-doubt arrive in Bermuda as one of the most motivated athletes. Add in the likes of another Brit, Jodie Stimpson and Americans Katie Zaferes, Kirsten Kasper, Chelsea Burns, Summer Cook, Taylor Spivey and Taylor Knibb (who has ridden with Duffy on a few occasions to find herself clear of the rest of the field into T2) and you have more than enough talent on the line to both keep Duffy honest or beat her if she's not on her game.
Schoeman on a roll
Two masterful sprint races in Abu Dhabi and then the Gold Coast have made Henry Schoeman the man to beat heading into Bermuda. With neither of the Brownlee brothers in the field, Schoeman is likely to try and stay with super-swimmer Richard Varga (SVK) and open up a bit of a break on the rest of the field. Two-time defending world champion Mario Mola will certainly be up for the challenge, though. Mola ran to a close second in Abu Dhabi and has been training hard ever since. Another man to watch is the only person to have beaten Schoeman in 2018 - Richard Murray, who took the Cape Town World Cup race earlier this year.
The list of contenders is, as usual for a WTS race, stacked. Mola's countrymen Fernando Alarza and Uxio Abuin Ares are lining up and are likely to be in the mix and could certainly help drive the pack up to a potential breakaway if need be. France will be ably represented by Vincent Luis, Leo Bergere and Pierre Le Corre. Norway's Kristian Blummenfelt's strength is sure to be a help on the tough course.