World No 1 Javier Gomez is expected to be on the start line for next month's ITU World Cup sprint race in New Plymouth.
Gomez, who is training in Christchurch, is no stranger to New Plymouth having won a World Cup triathlon race over the Olympic distance in the city in 2008 when he beat Kiwi Bevan Docherty in a close finish.
The sprint distance involves a 750m swim, a 20km bike ride and a 5km run. The Olympic triathlon distance is twice that.
"Gomez has never lost a race in New Zealand," Oceania Triathlon Union president Terry Sheldrake said yesterday. "He won the junior world champs in Queenstown in 2003, won in New Plymouth in 2008 and won the world champs in Auckland in 2012 and then again in the 2013 ITU World Series opener, again in Auckland."
Sheldrake said already 117 men and 63 women were on a "wait list" for the Port Taranaki- sponsored event on Sunday, March 23.
The top 75 ranked triathletes will gain starts.
"What that means is the men are given starts on their rankings. It will be a superb field. At this stage, all the women will race."
The New Plymouth race has a $US60,000 (NZ$72,000) prize purse and Sheldrake said triathletes would use the race as part of their buildup to the opening round of the ITU World Series over the Olympic distance in Auckland two weeks later.
"It's absolutely exciting for New Plymouth. It will be a world-class field," Sheldrake said.
The elite women's race starts at noon, with the elite men's race starting two hours later.
Age-group and relay racing for beginners and age-groupers will be on Sunday morning, allowing participants to then relax and enjoy watching some of the world's best in action at Ngamotu Beach.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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