Sunday’s action over the 1 500m harbour swim, 40km beach side bike and 10km run starts and finishes at the V&A Waterfront. The Cape Town race is the second event in the ITU World Triathlon Series.
Current Olympic Champion Alistair Brownlee had to withdraw due to a calf strain. His late withdrawal makes his younger brother Jonathan and current World Champion Gomez the clear-cut favourites for the race. In the past five events they have competed against each other, without Alistair on the start line, it’s been a 1-2 finish. But who holds the upper hand? In races where Alistair hasn’t been a factor, Jonathan won Stockholm in 2012, before Gomez claimed the Grand Final title in Auckland in 2012 with a killer sprint. In Yokohama and Madrid last year, Jonathan was on top, but Gomez re-claimed it in Auckland to start the 2014 season. And then there was last year’s Grand Final in London where Alistair also raced but was forced out of contention due to injury. In possibly one of the best contests between the two, Gomez held on in another epic sprint to claim a history-making third ITU World Championship. It seems that when it comes down to a sprint the Spaniard has the upper hand.
“I’m feeling fit and strong. Fitter than in Auckland,” said Jonathan. “It’s really special to be part of the first ever ITU World Triathlon on African soil. The course is a fast and flat one and it’s going to take a big push on the bike to get away from the big group before the run.”
Murray is the local favourite. He’s the only African to have won a WTS race, which he did in Hamburg in 2012 with scintillating run speed. On that day he got the better of Gomez. While Murray is by far the most experienced South African on the start list, up and coming Henri Schoeman is known for his strong swim and bike. The pair will be joined by Wian Sullwald, who is the only South African to have collected an ITU World Championship, which he did in the men’s junior race in 2012.
Jonathan believes the South Africans must use the home ground advantage. “Racing on home soil does make a big difference. I remember how it helped me at the 2012 London Olympic Games. When you start to struggle big time, it’s the home crowd’s cheers that keep you going. I’m sure that Richard and the other South Africans are going to give their best and that they will take this opportunity for a big result.”
Another Spaniard who has a shot at the podium, Mario Mola, believes that the flat course does not mean it is going to be easy. Mola is a very fast runner. “It might be flat and it will be fast but it’s also going to be tough. When racing is that fast you don’t always have time to think, so have to be sharp.”
Follow all the events live with timing and text updates, at triathlon.org/live and on twitter at @triathlonlive. Action starts at 15:00.