New Zealand triathletes shed gloom of Glasgow

FINE FETTLE: Kiwi triathletes Andrea Hewitt and Nicky Samuels are in fine form heading into the triathlon world champs.
FINE FETTLE: Kiwi triathletes Andrea Hewitt and Nicky Samuels are in fine form heading into the triathlon world champs.

Post-Glasgow success gives triathlon women boost ahead of World Championships in Canada, reports BEN STRANG.

Positive energy is surging through New Zealand's elite female triathletes heading into the ITU Triathlon World Championships this weekend.

In stark contrast to their subdued post-Glasgow outlook, the New Zealand team are in fine form heading into the final round of the ITU World Triathlon Series in Edmonton, Canada.

Andrea Hewitt and Nicky Samuels finished second and third at the latest round of the series in Stockholm, Sweden, last weekend.

The result has been a big boost for the duo after a disappointing Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where New Zealand failed to claim a medal.

For Samuels, it's down to better preparation, with her appeal process ahead of the Glasgow Games throwing that preparation into turmoil.

Ahead of Stockholm, Samuels spent a good training block at altitude, and felt fresh going into the race.

''I came down from altitude two weeks earlier and I think that was a timely thing,'' she said.

''I think I probably should have come down earlier than that, too. I just had nine days of really good training pre-Stockholm.''

She said that result is a good indicator that she will be firing on all cylinders in Edmonton.

''If you've got that form a week earlier, you've still got that form a week later,'' she said.

''It'll be no problem to back it up. It's sort of like your last hard training session. For that to go well is a good indicator for where you're at.''

It was Samuels' first podium in the world series, and for Hewitt it was the first time she mounted the podium in three years.

It's not as if Hewitt has struggled for form in 2014, but it a matter of getting over that hump and on to the podium.

''I've raced 12 times this year and never been out of the top six,'' Hewitt said.

''To get on to the podium was another step, to show that I've still got it.

''I've had form all year, but last week the race in Stockholm, you know when you plan a race, it went the way I'd planned.

''To get a breakaway on the bike and make that stick so there was less of the field to run against when it came to the run. I guess that was the difference.''

If all goes to plan in Edmonton it will be a similar story, and a tough, technical bike leg should help those plans fall into place.

Hewitt checked out the bike leg yesterday, and said it should break up the field.

''The course is pretty tough.

''I went out on the bike [yesterday] and there's a couple of hills we go up, so hopefully it'll split the field up and it won't just be a running race like other races.''

New Zealand head coach Greg Fraine has similar expectations, and said the bike course in particular should suit Kiwi athletes.

He did warn, however, that there are many impressive cyclists in the field.

''It's a good solid course, a good honest course,'' Fraine said.

''The bike course is reasonably solid. It's pretty tough those first two laps, some good little climbs in there and quite technical, which will suit our athletes.

''It's not a drag strip, but with a couple of good climbs it will suit our athletes quite well.''

He said the team was under pressure to perform after the poor performance in Glasgow, and admitted they would like to prove a point.

''You could say there is a point to prove,'' he said.

''We've done a lot of hard work since Glasgow. All the athletes and coaching looked at what we've been doing. We've had a very thorough debrief of what we did prior and leading into Glasgow.

''We've made some changes, and there's been some very good work done in the period since Glasgow.

''The racing last weekend in Stockholm was a reflection of some of the hard work.''

The New Zealand women's elite team of Samuels, Hewitt, Simone Ackermann, Rebecca Clarke, Anneke Jenkins and Kate McIlroy race at 6am on Sunday (NZ time).

Tony Dodds and Ryan Sissons compete in the men's race at 6am on Monday.

Waikato Times