The final Blue Carpet touches were being made beneath Hamburg City Hall on Wednesday (Photo: Tri NZ)
By Kent Gray/Triathlon.kiwi in Hamburg
It’s the World Triathlon Sprint & Relay Championships – only even shorter.
For the first time, the most petite of the sport’s world championships will be contested over the super sprint distance – 300m swim, 7.5km bike and 1750m run – bringing the ever-unpredictable eliminator format into play.
That will take care of the first three days in Hamburg before the World Triathlon Relay Championship on Sunday (early Monday NZT) where automatic qualification for next summer’s Paris Olympics is the lure.
New Zealand will be represented by nine elite athletes in Germany at what doubles as the sixth round (of eight) of the World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS). Before all that, four Kiwi U19s will take on triathlon’s next gen in the Junior World Championships over the sprint distance.
TIGHT AND TECHNICAL
The races all start in the Kleine Alster area with the architecturally magnificent Hamburg City Hall as a picturesque backdrop to the blue carpet. There’s a pontoon start to the one lap swim with a turning buoy at 140m and a 40m x 6m wide section where the freestylers will be forced to navigate a “dark tunnel”.
The bike course weaves through the famous hotspots of the Elbe and is, according to the athlete’s guide, “technically demanding” with two 180 degree turns on each of the two laps. The run, like the bike course, is flat and fast, also incorporates a pair of 180 degree turns and will see the tape broken under the shadow of Hamburg City Hall.
There is a thunderstorm forecast for Thursday before the temperatures ramp up to an expected high of 31 degrees Celcuis for the Super Sprint finals on Saturday (early Sunday NZT). The Relay on Sunday (early Monday NZT) will be raced in a far more pleasant 24 degrees.
TV & STREAMING
World Triathlon’s subscription service, Triathlonlive.tv, will carry extensive coverage from Hamburg. It is also live on Sky TV. Use the race times, listed below as NZT, as a guide for both services but check listings to ensure you don’t miss a minute of the action.
Here’s everything you need to know, through a Kiwi lens, to enjoy what shapes as one of the highlights of the global tri calendar.
Thursday, July 13
World Junior Sprint Championship
Junior Women (3am Friday NZT)
NZL reps: Sophie Spencer and Hannah Prosser.
Junior Men (5am Friday NZT)
NZL reps: Ben Airey, Finnley Oliver.
The inside oil: After the Parade of Nations where Hawke’s Bay Triathlon Club life member Fred Koenders will be the flag bearer for the 17-strong NZL Age Group team in Hamburg, the ‘elite’ racing begins with the Junior (U19) championships over the traditional sprint distance – a 750m swim, 20km run and 1500m run. Airey will be buoyed after a silver medal at European Cup Holten on July 1.
Friday, July 14
World Super Sprint Championships
Qualifier 1 (6pm Friday NZT)
NZL reps: Tayler Reid, Saxon Morgan
Qualifier 2 (6.35pm Friday NZT)
NZL reps: Hayden Wilde, Dylan McCullough, Janus Staufenberg
Wave 1 (5am Sat NZT)
Wave 2 (5.35am Sat NZT)
Qualifier 1 (8pm Friday NZT)
NZL reps: Nicole van der Kaay, Olivia Thornbury
Qualifier 2 (8:35pm Friday NZT)
NZL reps: Ainsley Thorpe, Brea Roderick
Wave 1 (6.15am Saturday NZT)
Wave 2 (6:505am Saturday NZT)
Inside Oil: The blink and you’ll miss it distances and eliminator format will make the qualifiers a riveting watch with the top 10 in each qualifier automatically through to Sunday’s three stage ‘finals’. For those who finish outside the 10, there will be two repecharge races later on Friday (early Saturday NZT) offering five spots per repecharge to determine the 30 athletes who will race for the title.
Partners Janus Staufenberg and Olivia Thornbury, both in hot European form when they haven’t been mixed up in crashes, have each earned starts via the waitlist. Ideally, all the Kiwis will want to avoid the repecharge to leave plenty of battery power for Saturday, and in some cases, Sunday’s relays. Indeed, it is not inconceivable for an athlete to face up to six races over the four days. It could even be seven for McCullough if he needed the repecharge to qualify and then made it through all three stages of the finals, the latter just over two hours after he is also set to contest the combined U23/Junior Relay. McCullough’s also been named in the squad for Sunday’s (early Monday NZT) elite Relay, the six to be whittled down to four by the NZL selectors on Saturday evening.
Saturday, July 15
U23/Junior Mixed Relay (8.35am Sunday NZT)
NZL reps: Brea Roderick, Hannah Knighton, Dylan McCullough, Saxon Morgan, Lachlan Haycock.
Inside Oil: Hannah Knighton, one of only two Kiwis not racing individually in Hamburg, will join Brea Roderick and two of either Dylan McCullough, Saxon Morgan or Lachlan Haycock in the combined U23/Junior relay. Haycock is the other for whom the relay is his only potential race in Germany. If McCullough, NZL’s form U23 male, does race, he’ll then potentially have just under two hours before the elite men’s Super Sprint finals begin.
Super Sprint World Championship Finals
Stage 1 (2:20am Sunday NZT)
Stage 2 (3:30am Sunday NZT)
Stage 3 (4:40am Sunday NZT)
Stage 1 (2:55am Sunday NZT)
Stage 2 (4:05am Sunday NZT)
Stage 3 (5:15am Sunday NZT)
Inside Oil: Strap yourself in for rapid-fire action where the 30 finalists found the previous day will be whittled down to 20 and then 10 as the eliminator format gets brutal with the three stage final. Wilde, a silver medalist behind Alex Yee in Montreal last year, is NZL’s big medal hope again. To sound the smartest around the home water-cooler, know that the first two editions of the World Triathlon Sprint Championship in Montreal were actually over the sprint distance.
Sunday, July 16
World Triathlon Mixed Relay Championship (00:15am Monday)
Kiwi reps: Ainsley Thorpe, Brea Roderick, Nicole van der Kaay, Dylan McCullough, Hayden Wilde, Tayler Reid.
Inside Oil: France, as hosts, are already guaranteed a Relay team at next year’s Paris Olympics. They won last year’s World title which meant, GBR, as runners-up profited with the automatic spot for Paris rolling down to them. What does that all mean? For NZL, it means they need to finish the top nation in Hamburg, not counting France and GBR, and they’ll also qualify for the Olympic relay and guarantee NZL two male and two female slots for the individual races in Paris.
The final make-up of the NZL team will be fascinating, so too will be the order in which the selectors send the quartet out. All we know for certain is that the order is male-female, male-female. Brea Roderick was named to anchor the elite relay at WTCS Montreal before that race was cancelled due to poor air quality. As the Cantabrian has to race the U23/Junior relay, given NZL only has two females to choose from in that category, it is likely she will be overlooked for the more experienced van der Kaay and Thorpe for the elite relay. The big call is which of McCullough or Reid joins Kiwi No.1 Wilde as the second male.