A Spanish versus Great Britain triathlon rivalry is set to continue at the opening World Triathlon Series event of the year tomorrow, as defending world champion Javier Gomez takes on brothers Alistair and Jonny Brownlee.
The trio swept the medal positions at London 2012, when Gomez finished sandwiched between gold medal winner Alistair and younger brother Jonny.
But the Anglo-Spanish rivalry has taken an extra twist given the fact third place finisher in the World Series last year, Mario Mola, has been in superb form so far in 2014 and has won the last two World Cup races in Mooloolaba and New Plymouth.
In terms of other contenders at the Series opener in Auckland, Portugal’s Joao Silva will be hoping to build on his third place finish behind Mola and Gomez in New Plymouth, while Athens 2004 bronze medal winner Sven Riederer of Switzerland is another man to have shown strong running form so far this year.
Also looking to make a mark will be the Russian duo of Dmitry Polyanskiy and Ivan Vasiliev as well as Slovakia’s three-time world aquathlon champion Richard Varga.
The women’s lineup will be without Britain’s defending champion Non Stanford, who has opted to sit out the season opener, but will still be formidably strong with eight of the top performers in last year’s standings taking to the start-line.
After a breakthrough season in 2013, Gwen Jorgensen of the United States returns to lead the international challenge and continue the form she showed in winning her first World Cup event in 2014 in Mooloolaba.
But the US team will also consist of rookie Katie Hursey who enjoyed a surprise win in New Plymouth after finishing second to Jorgensen in Mooloolaba, while London 2012 Olympian Sarah Groff will also be on the start-line.
Among other contenders will be Germany’s Anne Haug, Australia’s Emma Moffatt, Barbara Riveros Diaz of Chile and home contender Andrea Hewitt.
The women’s race is due to start at 12.10pm local time tomorrow, while the men open their season later on the same day at 3.40pm in Auckland.