Hamburg WTS is a favourite among many athletes. It is classed as the worlds biggest triathlon with over 10,000 athletes racing around the streets of Hamburg every year! The course is usually lined with thousands of spectators, and the racing is always fast and furious. In recent years we have seen this round of the WTS double up as the World Sprint Triathlon Championships, with the weekend also encompassing the World Relay Championships.
As we found out at the Nottingham WTS relays, the Olympic qualifying criteria has altered slightly for Tokyo with a strong emphasis on the relay. Hamburg is the second of six qualification races and covering bodies will be looking at these races as a chance to qualify a team for Tokyo and guarantee two places in both the individual male and female races.
The men's race once again fields an impressive line up with the best that world triathlon has to offer. Mola will be going for this third win in a row at Hamburg, the same feat which he managed at Yokohama WTS earlier this year. However this time he probably faces a slightly tougher field. It doesn't seem that anyone is sitting this round of the WTS out, perhaps due to the inclusion of the world sprint and relay championships.
HUUB are very well represented. GBR's highest ranked athlete Tom Bishop will be looking to build on a great race at Leeds and Nottingham WTS and will be very keen to step on that WTS podium again as he once did last year. Jonny Brownlee (GBR) will be looking to put a very unlucky start to the year behind him and get back to his winning ways. The Norwegian team will be coming straight from Font Romeu, last time these guys came down from altitude we witnessed a first-ever WTS 1-2-3! Finally, we have long time HUUB athletes Richard Varga (SVK) and Marco Van Der Steel (NED) who will more than certainly be up there from the start!
Similar to the men's field, the women's race is a very competitive one. It features numerous WTS medalists, World Champions and Olympic medalists. A lot of people will be looking to the swim exit and first transition to see how the race will unfold. Recently races have been dictated by swim - breakaways, in fact, the majority of podium places have been determined by such moves.
After an injury forced Flora Duffy (BER) out of Leeds WTS, Duffy will be looking at Hamburg WTS as an opportunity to reclaim her world number one status. We also see the return of double Olympic medalist Nicola Spirig (SWI) to the WTS scene, we have seen her drastically shape races in the past as well. HUUB's Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) will be full of confidence after her first WTS podium in Leeds last month, and she will be one to watch this weekend. Jessica Learmonth (GBR) will also line up; unfortunately her valiant breakaway effort at Leeds WTS didn't pay off, but with Duffy racing alongside, they are a formidable pair and will likely take the race by the reins from the start!
Along with the age group races, the Relay event finishes off the weekend of racing. At Nottingham we saw some incredible racing, every country was out there for the win, and eventually, team USA prevailed. The time around we see 21 nations taking part and no doubt with the thousands of spectators lining the streets of Hamburg it will be just as an exciting race! Last year it was Australia who were crowned World Champions, and after their Commonwealth title at the Gold Coast, they are probably slight favourites ahead of Team USA and Team GBR.