The first 2016 Montreal ITU Triathlon World Cup kicks off this weekend with a men's and women's start list that's sure to christen the event in top fashion.
Serving up a speedy sprint-distance course that will find the athletes touring around the French-Canadian city, Montreal is also the last major ITU competition before the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro welcomes the triathlon world to Copacabana Beach in just a couple of weeks.
Women’s Elite Preview
Flora Duffy (BER) will headline the women’s start list this weekend as she has been having the season of her life this year, checking multiple career milestones off her list. Currently standing as the Columbia Threadneedle rankings leader in the World Triathlon Series, she earned three WTS podiums in a row including her first WTS win in Stockholm. As she lines up in Montreal this Sunday to race in one final competition before heading to Brazil, the event will be her first World Cup appearance since 2013.
Another Olympic destined athlete, Aussie Ashleigh Gentle also is set to compete in Montreal. After earning the silver medal at the WTS Yokohama event in May and guaranteeing her spot on the Australian roster, Gentle has taken some time off from competing on the circuit in order to train. Now with only a short time before Rio, Montreal can welcome Gentle back to competing.
Gentle’s Olympic teammate Erin Densham also will compete in Montreal. And also like Gentle, Densham has not competed since Yokohama, so this weekend will be a crucial race for competition strategy before Rio.
Men’s Elite Preview
Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt will lead the way on the men’s side. As the top-ranked man on the start list, Blummenfelt has earned that position after having a breakthrough season so far this year. He snagged his first-career World Cup win in Cagliari earlier this year and then followed up that performance by landing himself on his first WTS podium in Yokohama. As one of the strongest cyclist in the field, he also has strong abilities in his run, so with the sprint distance course this weekend, he could be the top threat before he jets off to Rio to compete in a few short weeks.
The only other Rio bound athletes on the men’s roster is Brazil’s own Diogo Sclebin and Puerto Rico’s Manuel Huerta. Sclebin has never graced a World Cup podium before, and while Huerta does hold the honor of earning World Cup hardware, he has not seen a World Cup podium since 2012, so Montreal could be the perfect opprunity for both men to make strides as they enter crucial timing before Rio.
USA’s Kevin McDowell and Eric Lagerstrom will lead the way for Canada’s neighboring nation. While both men just missed the mark to make the Olympic roster for the U.S., both will be strong medal contenders going into the weekend. McDowell has had previous World Cup success in Chengdu, earning the silver in 2014 and the bronze last year, so knows what it takes to get up on a World Cup podium. Although Lagerstrom has never made it onto a World Cup podium before, he is a very strong cyclist, so could easily earn his first in Montreal.