Who will be the 2011 World Duathlon Champion?
It’s time for the run-bike-run sport to take centre stage in Spain this weekend, at the 2011 ITU Gijon Duathlon World Championships. Reigning European Duathlon Champions Benoit Nicolas (FRA) and Sandra Levenez (FRA) are considered the pre-race favourites to take the titles.
As well as the elite men’s and women’s world duathlon championships, 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.
About the race: Gijon is in northern Spain, and is a popular tourist area thanks to its position on the Spanish coast. The duathlon course was designed with fans in mind, with many great viewing spots along the course.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. The course is quite technical, with a few hills set to make each race interesting.
Run – 10km run that consists of four laps of a 2.5km course. Undulating, with one steep hill.
Bike – 40km bike, 8 laps of a 5.3km loop, quite a few technical turns and takes in the same hill as on the run.
Run – 5km, the athletes return for two final laps of the same run 2.5 run course.
Stories to watch for
Levenz a chance to break her bridesmaid tag - 2011 European Duathlon Champion Sandra Levenez from France finished second behind Catriona Morrison (GBR) last year and second to Vendula Frintova (CZE) the year before. But she 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 deer Meijden from the Netherlands and the strong Spanish team of Ainhoa Murua, Ana Burgos, Immacukada Pereiro and Estefania Dominguez.
Wide Open men’s field – With 2-time ITU World Champion Javier Gomez (ESP) pulling out of the field and with Bart Aernouts (BEL) not defending his title, the men’s race has opened up. While Benoit Nicolas (FRA) enters as this year’s European champion, Gijon will be his world championships debut. And the likes of Rob Woestenborghs (BEL) know how to win on the biggest stage with his triumph at the 2008 Duathlon world championships in Italy. Other major contenders will be Sergio Silva (POR), who has finished in the top-5 in the world championships four times previously, and Victor Manuel Del Corral Morales (ESP) who was runner-up to Nicolas at the European championships earlier this year in Ireland and will have the home crowd support.
Duathlon-fest - It’s not just about the elite athletes in Gijon, with hundreds of age-group duathletes, junior and U23 men and women. Paraduathlon is also part of the programme, and there will be elite and junior mixed team relay events on Sunday September 24.