Image: World Triathlon
Could Napier be treated to an unexpected chapter in triathlon’s generational Hayden Wilde v Alex Yee rivalry, a teaser to what many predict will be a race to the tape for Olympic Games gold in Paris this northern summer?
That mouthwatering prospect suddenly shapes as a possibility following the release of the preliminary start lists for World Triathlon Cup Napier on February 24-25.
Yee, Rio 2016 Olympic champion Jonathan Brownlee and fellow World champions Beth Potter (2023) and Georgia Taylor-Brown (2020) headline an eye-catching British contingent provisionally entered.
World Triathlon Cup Napier Start Lists
There’s still some uncertainty surrounding the final makeup of the start lists for the opening round of the World Triathlon Cup season on Feb. 24 although the fields should be firmed up by Monday. And with the Brits reportedly headed to Australia next month for a pre-season training camp, there are high hopes Team GBR will pop across the Tasman Sea to further up the ante on Napier’s global stage debut.
If Yee does race, it would be a fascinating early-season marker to Wilde v Yee title fights expected to be fought across three different fronts in 2024 – the Olympic Games, World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) and Super League.
The duo have been embroiled in a fiercely friendly and increasingly compelling rivalry after securing the silver and bronze medals respectively behind Kristian Blummenfelt at the COVID-delayed ‘2020’ Tokyo Olympics on July 26, 2021.
There was controversy when Yee pipped Wilde -penalised for a controversial helmet clip transgression – for Commonwealth Games gold at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games a year later.
Indeed, Yee had the wood on Wilde at Games and World Triathlon level until the Kiwi No.1 captured the World Triathlon Sprint Championship title in Hamburg last year, the first time Wilde has beaten Yee in a WTCS race they’ve both finished.
Wilde has also had the edge in Super League and is determined to perform in Paris after hobbling out of the Olympic Games Test Event – won by Yee –with a back injury last year before more so close, yet-so-far heartache at the WTCS finals in Pontevedra and bad luck prevented a Super League title repeat.
Lachlan Haycock, Saxon Morgan, Janus Staufenberg, Trent Thorpe, James Corbett, Ivan Abele, Henry McMecking, Dylan McCullough, Tayler Reid and Sam Parry are the other Kiwi men on the preliminary start list for Napier.
In the women’s field, Hannah Knighton, Hannah Howell, Ainsley Thorpe, Brea Roderick, Olivia Thornbury, Olivia Cummings, Nicole van der Kaay, Amara Rae, Sarah McClure and Emily Irvine have been named. However, Kiwi No.1 van der Kaay, already up in Europe prepping for Paris, is an unexpected starter.
World Triathlon Cup Napier is the showcase event of Tri NZ’s ‘Triathlon Summer Series’. As well as the individual World Cup races and Oceania Junior (U19) Championships on Feb. 24, Napier will host WTCS level Mixed Relay on Feb. 25.
Also on the billing on the Sunday is the New Zealand Age Group Sprint Championships. The Tri NZ Suzuki Series event is open to all, whether you’re chasing national title glory, qualification for the World Triathlon Age Group Finals Malaga in October, a PB or your first swim, bike and run finish line. There’s pace and place for all.
ENTER the Tri NZ Suzuki Series Age Group Championships HERE.