Despite a season decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic, a world-class line up of athletes head to Valencia for the ITU World Cup this weekend.
Leading the way in the men's field is 2019 and 2020 World Champion Vincent Luis (FRA). He is so far unbeaten in 2020 and looks poised to make it 4 from 4. However, he will by no means have it all his own way.
Although a number of ITU athletes chose to finish their season early, and some decided to sit out the whole of 2020 entirely, the men's and women's start lists feature Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth Champions, as well numerous World Triathlon Series medallists.
HUUB's Alistair Brownlee (GBR) seems to be building form in preparation to qualify for his fourth Olympic games, last time out in Sardinia he returned to the podium just behind Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) and Luis. Blummenfelt is also on the start line this weekend, alongside compatriot Gustav Iden, the 2019 70.3 World Champion will undoubtedly be in the mix for a podium finish.
HUUB's Henri Schoeman (RSA) also continues his preparation for the Tokyo Olympics and will be pushing from the very start. The other major contender to watch out for is Jelle Geens (BEL), the training partner of Luis often posts one of the days quickest run splits.
The women's field is perhaps slightly weaker and more open compared to the men's, but it still boasts a double Olympic medallist and a number of World Cup and WTS podium athletes. Looking at the start list Nicola Spirig (SUI) would usually be considered favourite but this being her first race in over a year, and as she builds towards her fifth Olympic Games her form is very much unknown.
Verena Steinhauser (ITA) starts as the number 1 ranked athlete and with 3rd in Sardinia and a top 10 in Karlovy Vary she could be in shape to claim her first ITU victory. Lisa Tertsch (GER) is a young athlete to watch out for, and she posted the quickest run splits as she ran herself into two top 10's in Sardinia WC and Karlovy Vary WC. The flat and fast course this weekend may play into her hands, compared to the challenging courses previously.
HUUB's Beth Potter (GBR) comes into this weekend in great form having finished runner up to Flora Duffy (BER) in Sardinia, the Olympic distance runner shows continual progression in the sport and will certainly be one to challenge for the top spot.