Punishing hill climb suits the Kiwi triathletes

MARK GEENTY IN GLASGOW
Last updated 07:52 22/07/2014
LAWRENCE SMITH/Stuff.co.nz

Members of the New Zealand triathlon team consider their chances prior to their races at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games on Thursday.

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Ryan Sissons believes a punishing hill climb on the Glasgow triathlon course will sort the men from the boys, and could help deliver New Zealand dual medals on day one of the Commonwealth Games.

New Zealand's six-strong squad got their first look today at the course for Thursday night's (NZT) men's and women's triathlon, where Sissons was an outside hope for a podium and Andrea Hewitt a top chance to secure the country's first medal of the 11-day event. The pair would back up with Tony Dodds and Kate McIlroy in the mixed teams event two days later.

Sissons described the course near the team's base at Hamilton, 20 minutes outside Glasgow, as "lumpy".

"It's got curves," he said.

It provided the New Zealanders with a misty-eyed reminder of home, drawing comparisons to the Auckland course with its sharp climb on the 10km run leg and undulations on the bike.

"It's not easy; it's unrelenting. If you're having a bad day you're going to get found out. The hills are going to get to you at some point and the run has got a solid 80m hill climb," Sissons said.

"It does definitely suit us, we're more strength-based athletes and with the terrain we deal with in New Zealand."

Sissons wasn't a regular top-10 finisher on the world circuit, but came into calculations with most of the big guns being from non-Commonwealth countries.

The exceptions were the Brownlee brothers, Jonathan and Alistair, with the England duo at short odds to run the quinella. Sissons agreed on face value it looked as if the battle was for bronze.

"But anything can happen on the day and they [Brownlees] have had a pretty up and down season. They've only been on the podium once and that's unusual for them. They could have a bad day.

"They hadn't been in great form then in Hamburg they showed they were back. Certainly if I can beat the Brownlees I'd be pretty happy. I'd love to be on the podium."

South African Richard Murray, Scot David McNamee and all three Australians were Sissons' toughest rivals in the race to the podium.

Hewitt, meanwhile, believed the course would suit her, too. She lined up with compatriots McIlroy and Nicky Samuels, their hopes all boosted by the absence of Wales' Helen Jenkins, one of the world's best sidelined by a foot injury.

"It's not so much a pure runner's course. I won't say I like the hills, but based on my results and what happens in races, it suits me," Hewitt said.

Jenkins' absence leaves Hewitt, England's Jodie Stimpson and Australia's Emma Jackson as the leading hopes, based on recent form. Jackson was second, Hewitt fourth and Stimpson fifth in the sprint distance event in Hamburg 10 days ago.

Of Jenkins' withdrawal, Hewitt said: "That was a surprise because she raced the whole world series, she didn't have a break. She kept saying she had niggles but no one knew it was that serious. It's a loss to the race."

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