For the fifth consecutive year, the World Triathlon Cup Karlovy Vary will bring its challenging Olympic-distance course to bear this weekend, as racing returns to the circuit on Sunday for the first time since Huatulco in June.
Two almighty performances 12 months ago may have seen Vincent Luis and Flora Duffy leave with the gold medals but, in the wake of Tokyo 2020 and the Edmonton Championship Finals, this year the fields will look rather different. The focus for this edition shifts to the rising stars eyeing up Paris 2024 rather than the biggest names hunting pre-Olympic preparations, and it is in races just like this that reputations can be forged.
What remains the same is the stunning course, with its two lap 1.5km swim in Rolava Lake, two part bike segment that snakes for 6.5km from there into the town before taking the athletes on 7 laps of the cobbled, hilly centre with its steep climbs and fast descents. finally closing out with an equally demanding 4-lap run. Watch all the action unfold on Sunday 12 September with the men underway at 9am local time and the women at 2pm, on TriathlonLive.tv
9am BST Sunday 12 September
The top ten in the men’s race is a who’s who of talent making its mark on the World Triathlon breakthrough top billing. Wearing the number one will be Switzerland’s Adrien Briffod, arriving with credentials galore and a list of strong results since scoring sixth here in 2019. Silver in Arzachena followed 12th in Yokohama and it was another fine, fifth-placed finish in Edmonton that sees him the top-ranked name on the start list.
The unmistakable figure of cobalt-haired Takumi Hojo has been quietly racking up some consistent performances of late, including a top ten in the Championship Finals and silver at the Asia Triathlon Championships in April. A talented swimmer, he will want to get onto the front pack and set up for a medal charge from there on Sunday.
Two in-form Hungarians start, Mark Devay having looked Series-sharp in Edmonton just as he did in Leeds back in June, Csongor Lehmann the new U23 World Champion after a scintillating display that underlined that this undeniable young talent is back at its best and ready to score a Cup gold.
Chile’s Diego Moya delivered a top 30 finish on Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 and clearly enjoyed his time at the front of the race after a typically strong swim, and was fourth behind Lehmann in Edmonton. Gabriel Sandor will also feel his time is now. The Swede has regularly trained with the headline-grabbing Norwegian team and only narrowly missed out on a Tokyo start, but stood on the World Triathlon Cup podium alongside Moya in Antwerp two years ago.
Elsewhere, Chase McQueen was in sparkling form in the USA’s mixed relay triumph in Montreal and hits only his third Cup start line full of confidence. The New Zealand duo of 2018 Youth Olympic Games Champion Dylan McCullough and Saxon Morgan also starred in that race, helping the young kiwis to a brilliant silver and both make their World Triathlon Cup debuts this weekend.
Home favourite Jan Celustka and Azerbaijan’s Rostislav Pevtsov are the two most experienced men in the field at 39 and 34-years-old respectively and will want to show the young field what they are capable of on this demanding course. Find the full start list here.
2pm BST Sunday 12 September
Ai Ueda wears the women’s number one on Sunday, the Japanese legend who helped rising star Niina Kishimoto’s preparations for the Tokyo Games and will be eager to return to the blue carpet herself once more. After finishing 18th here last year with the third-fastest run split, the 37-year-old will want to improve on her swim to leave less of a mountain to climb for the podium, while Kishimoto makes her debut in the Czech Republic.
The hugely popular champion here in both 2018 and 2019 was Vendula Frintova. The Czech favourite has saved some of her gutsiest performances over recent years for the home crowd and will relish the chance to score a hat-trick of wins on a course she knows very well.
The fastest run 12 months ago – a minute quicker than Flora Duffy and Ueda – was by Germany’s Lisa Tertsch, and she will be eager to bounce back from disappointment at the U23 World Championships with the kind of display that saw her win gold in Antwerp and bronze in Valencia in recent years.
Compatriot Marlene Gomez-Islinger scooped a brilliant gold in Arzachena last year and will be looking forward to another test over the Olympic distance after a career-best 17th place at the Championship Finals Edmonton last month.
Erika Ackerlund is the top-ranked American on the start line and after 13th here last year and 6th place in Huatulco, will be lazer-focused on delivering what will be needed to scoop a career-first Cup podium this weekend.
Julie Derron (SUI) will be among the favourites for a medal after a top five finish here three years ago and more recent silver behind Gomez-Islinger in Arzachena, the hills and cobbles familiar territory for the Swiss star making her fourth appearance here.
After her 7th place at the U23 World Championships, Sophie Alden makes only her second start at the Cup level, representing the new generation of British women just as Solveig Lovseth and Stine Dale are doing likewise for Norway.
Dominika Jamnicky and Emy Legault continue to provide Canada’s medal hopes with injuries to Joanna Brown and Amelie Kretz keeping them off the start lines, while Mexico’s Michelle Flipo is one of the most experienced in the field making her sixth appearance here at all levels. The full start list can be found here.