The 2016 World Triathlon Series was an unforgettable year. Twelve different men and women stood on top of the WTS podium to receive the hard earned gold medal, five of whom topped the WTS podium for the very first time. Then to cap off the year, the Grand Final in Cozumel turned into a spectacle that showed the world that not only can a woman from a small Caribbean island become a World Champion, but that a pair of brothers can inspire the world by showing that family always comes first.
As the new season comes into focus within a month’s time, the question remains whether 2016 can be topped? Well, ready or not the 2017 ITU World Triathlon Series is upon us and when it comes to competition, triathlon never disappoints!
We take a look at what is to come for the year ahead with the old, the new and everything in between. Here is what you can expect:
Welcome to the WTS Family
Two new cities will be added to the docket in 2017 to make it a nine-stop circuit. Following longtime host Edmonton, elites will remain in Canada for the seventh stop of the season, as Montreal, Quebec debuts a standard-distance course. Montreal first joined ITU in 2016 by hosting a World Cup. Due to the success of the fun and vibrant location, Montreal this year becomes a WTS destination. The Netherlands also has the privilege of hosting its first WTS competition as Rotterdam serves as host of the 2017 WTS Grand Final. The Dutch town will see thousands of triathletes from all over the world, including the elites compete to be crowned World Champions.
To start the season, Abu Dhabi revealed a new elite course that will take them around the Yas Marina and bring them around to a bike course with views of Ferrari World. The race this year will also begin with a pontoon start, whereas in the previous two years it has been a beach start. http://abudhabi.triathlon.org/event_info/elite_course/
WTS Leeds has also introduced a new course for age group racers, insuring that all who come to race will have an event they will never forget! http://leeds.triathlon.org/news/article/2017_columbia_threadneedle_world_triathlon_leeds_route_annoucement
Gomez is Back!
After being crowned the 2015 ITU World Champion, Spaniard Javier Gomez Noya was ready to tackle the 2016 Olympic year head on. He won the Lisbon ETU European Championships and then was fourth in the WTS Leeds. Unfortunately, after that race Gomez suffered an injury from a bike training session that resulted in his season ending. But wait no longer, the Spanish conquistador will race WTS events this season, including the Series opener in Abu Dhabi. Look out for the five-time World Champ!
Bigger things ahead!
With the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, 2016 was a big year for a lot of athletes, but with some very special announcements in the last couple of weeks, it looks like 2017 is going to be a lot bigger for some. The women’s field will see some gaps in the roster this season as some triathlon families are expecting some triathlon babies to arrive in 2017! Gwen Jorgensen (USA), Nicola Spirig (SUI), Nicky Samuels (NZL), Melissa Stockwell (USA) and Helen Jenkins (GBR) have all shared the exciting news that they are pregnant! While we all will miss seeing them out on the race course this season, we are so thrilled for their next chapters with their growing families!
Five different elites earned their first career WTS gold medals last year: Fernando Alarza (ESP), Henri Schoeman (RSA), Summer Cook (USA), Katie Zaferes (USA) and Flora Duffy (BER). Which goes to show that when it comes to the WTS, new faces and new talents are constantly on the rise to shake up the competition.
That was undeniably seen during the Grand Final in Cozumel last year. Germany’s Laura Lindemann took home the U23 women’s world title after she had won back-to-back junior world titles in the two years previous, so she can be expectant to be a force in the years to come. That is also true of the U23 world champion, Jorik Van Egdom (NED), and since the Grand Final is in his home nation this year, it is a good time for the young racer to become the Netherlands leading man.
Since Gwen Jorgensen will be taking the year off due to her pregnancy, this is the year where the strength of the USA women’s team can really shine. Cook has proven herself on the WTS front, and so will her compatriots such as Renee Tomlin ,Kirsten Kasper and Taylor Knibb.
And as if Schoeman’s amazing breakout year last year was an indication of what we are expected to see from him this year, we are all in for a treat for the South African!
Look out for Paratri
This season, paratriathlon will adapt a new event schedule that mirrors the triathlon format with the inclusion of two different levels of competition: the World Paratriathlon Series and Paratriathlon World Cups. The paratri elites will have three stops in the WPS that will coincide with the World Triathlon Series in the Gold Coast, Yokohama and Edmonton. There will also be a six-stop World Cup tour. The full schedule can be found here: http://www.triathlon.org/events#q=&hPP=15&idx=events&p=0&dFR[event_categories.cat_name]=Paratriathlon%20World%20Cup&dFR[year]=2017&is_v=1
A new classification system for paratriathlon was also created for this season, which will offer six sport class opportunities instead of five. Find all of the changes here: http://www.triathlon.org/news/article/itu_announces_paratriathlon_classification_opportunities_for_2017
Onward to Tokyo
It’s crazy to imagine that after we just finished the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games we are already looking toward Tokyo 2020, but ready or not, the push to Japan is happening! Now more than ever, we are gearing up our campaign to get Mixed Team Relay as an official Olympics sport. So again with the Mixed Team Relay World Championships being linked with the WTS Hamburg event, support is needed more than ever to show the excitement of the multisport and the need for its inclusion in Tokyo!