It’s time for the run-bike-run to take centre stage in Spain this weekend, at the 2011 ITU Gijon Duathlon World Championships.
The elite men’s and women’s world duathlon championships have attracted big fields, but this Spanish coastal city will also host the junior, U23 men’s and women’s races, age-group sprint and regular distance, as well as an elite paraduathlon in an action-packed weekend.
The elite men’s and women’s titles will be decided in Gijon over a 10km run, 40km bike leg and then a 5km run. The elite mixed team relay will be run across parts of the elite course, but with each athlete completing a 2km run, 7.6km bike leg and then a 1km sprint before tagging the next athlete. The course has a few hills and technical turns in the bike lap, which is sure to make things interesting as the world’s best duathletes battle it out.
Elite Women’s Preview
Catriona Morrison has dominated duathlon in recent years, but in 2011 it’s time for a new woman to step on top of the podium in Gijon. With Morrison not on the start, instead it’s time to look at athletes like current European Champion Sandra Levenez from France. Levenez finished second Morrison last year and second to Vendula Frintova (CZE) the year before, but won this year’s European title in Limerick and will wear the No.1 in Gijon.
Those challenging her will be, Venezuela’s Karla Urbina – the current Pan American duathlon champion, Asian champion Airi Sawada from Japan, last year’s European champion Ruth van der Meijden from the Netherlands.
The Spanish team is also set to be strong at home, with regular Dextro Energy Triathlon Series top-20 finisher Ainhoa Murua racing at home, as well as 2009 duathlon world titles bronze medallist Ana Burgos, Immacukada Pereiro and Estefania Dominguez.
Elite Men’s Preview
The big news for duathlon fans is that two-time ITU World Champion Javier Gomez is on the start list. If Gomez can triumph he wouldn’t be the first ITU world champ to also claim a duathlon title, Vanessa Fernandes won duathlon titles in 2007 and 2008. Gomez is in an unfamiliar place on the start list though, in his first duathlon world titles, he will be wearing No.21.
While Gomez is no doubt one to watch, he may be upstaged by his own Spanish teammate Victor Manuel Del Corral Morales – a multisport specialist. He finished fourth in last year’s duathlon world championships, second in this year’s European duathlon titles and won the European Cross Triathlon title.
In a big field of 56, it’s Mexico’s Ramos Herrera who will wear No.1. The current Pan American champ finished seventh at last year’s duathlon worlds. Japan and the USA have both sent big teams of six athletes, while Spain has the most athletes in the men’s race with seven.
Another to watch is Rob Woestenborghs of Belgium. He’s tasted victory in this event before, taking the Duathlon world title in 2008 in Rimini, Italy. Woestenborghs was also runner-up last year in Edinburgh and will be targeting a fourth podium finish at the Duathlon world championships.
The 2011 Gijon ITU Duathlon World Championships get underway when the women’s elite and U23 field starts at 11.45 (local time) on September 24, followed by the men’s elite and U23 start at 14.45. The elite mixed team relay is on Sunday September 25 at 15.00 (local time). Check www.triathlon.org for photo galleries, results and full recaps after the races.