All but two of New Zealand's London-bound triathletes will race in Austria this weekend, using the latest round of the world championship series as a tune up for the Olympics.
Nicky Samuels, Kate McIlroy, Andrea Hewitt and Bevan Docherty will race in Kitzbuhel, along with Olympic reserves Debbie Tanner and Clark Ellice. They will be joined by non-Olympic athletes Bryce McMaster, Tony Dodds and Simone Ackermann in the Austrian Alps.
For New Zealand's top ranked athlete and realistic Olympic medal hope Andrea Hewitt, who was fourth in the Banyoles World Cup in Spain last weekend, Austria signals her final serious hit out before London.
''I am happy to be training well for London and racing at the highest level at the same time. This is my last race before the Olympic Games ahead of six weeks of final preparation.''
McIlroy races in Austria, one of the Wellingtonian's favourite venues, for the fourth time.
''I arrived in Sete the end of May to start my last training block towards the Olympics. I have slowly built into the training, giving my calf a chance to get back to 100 per cent post-Sydney (in April).
''It has been a great uninterrupted four-week block of training - great group to train with here in Sete as well as putting on some scorcher days. This weekend will be a good test to see how I am tracking and to get a quality race under my belt. It is a strength based course which I enjoy and fits is well with this phase of my training.''
Docherty has made the move from his United States base to Europe for this weekend as he too has an eye on the calendar with London in mind.
''Training has been going very well, my form seems to be coming on at the right time,'' he said.
''I know there are a lot of the big hitters in this event, and it's a great opportunity to gauge how things are coming along.
''It's around five weeks until the men's triathlon in London, a lot can happen over that time which can 'make or break' your Olympic result.''
National coach Greg Fraine said it was important for the athletes to have a balance between gaining world championship points this week and keeping an eye on London.
''In Olympic year, events such as this weekend are approached with a slightly different perspective. Athletes are still looking to secure good points towards the world championship but the main focus is London and continuing to work towards peaking at the Games.
'This weekend is about ticking a few boxes during the race to confirm their level of fitness and strength at this stage of the build up. While racing is vital for them all, it is important to maintain the right balance during the event this weekend, making decisions that are based as much on London as what might be unfolding in front of them in Kitzbuhel.''
The women's race is Sunday morning (NZT) with the men's race on Monday.
- © Fairfax NZ News