World Cup triathlon racing returns to New Plymouth next year after a six-year hiatus.
In 2005, it was an all-Kiwi finish to the elite men's race with Bevan Docherty pipping Kris Gemmell by two seconds in a sprint finish. A year later, American Andy Potts was first home, with Docherty fourth across the line.
Spain's Javier Gomez showed his class in 2008, with Gemmell the best of the Kiwis in fourth spot.
Docherty then beat New Plymouth's Clark Ellice in a Continental Cup race in 2009 - the latest ITU race held in the city.
The World Cup is the second tier competition below the World Series, with the Continental Cup ranked below both.
New Plymouth, with its spectator-friendly course that includes a run leg along the Coastal Walkway, was confirmed yesterday as one of five venues on the ITU World Cup calendar, with the March 22-23 date two weeks before the ITU World Series race in Auckland.
The news comes after months of negotiation from a joint venture of partners including Venture Taranaki, the Oceania Triathlon Union and Triathlon New Zealand.
Oceania Triathlon Union president Terry Sheldrake, one of the driving forces behind a return of elite level racing to New Plymouth, said the timing would fit in perfectly with other high level races in Oceania early in the year.
"The timing is perfect, a week after the Mooloolaba World Cup and two weeks before the opening round of the ITU World Triathlon Series in Auckland," he said.
"New Plymouth will serve as a perfect opportunity for some of the best in the world to enjoy a strong series of events ‘Down Under'. Adding New Plymouth to the calendar provides another opportunity for young and aspiring elite athletes to gain vital international experience without the expense of travel to the other side of the world."
Venture Taranaki chief executive Stuart Trundle said the return of world-class triathlon to Taranaki was great news for the region.
"Attracting an event of this calibre recognises and showcases the region's natural environment, its event friendliness and its energetic community," he said.
"It reflects the region's uniquely Team Taranaki approach to delivering fantastic major events and will offer the aspiring athletes of Taranaki to be motivated and inspired by the world's best triathletes."
Triathlon New Zealand chief executive Craig Waugh is looking forward to a suitably impressive addition to the summer racing programme.
"Tri NZ is excited by the commitment of the Taranaki region to host another world class ITU triathlon event next summer," he said.
"We broke the mould in 2012 by hosting and then retaining a leg of the ITU World Champs Series in Auckland through until 2016, now we can complement that with an ITU World Cup event two weeks prior each year in New Plymouth."
The New Plymouth event will fit nicely into the calendar, being two weeks after the Wellington leg of the national tri series, which includes the world university triathlon championships in 2014 and the ITU World Series event in Auckland, which is also Triathlon New Zealand's national standard distance championships.
Confirmed World Cup events for 2014:
March 15-16: Mooloolaba, Australia
March 22-23: New Plymouth, New Zealand
May 10-11: Chengdu, China
June 14-15: Huatulco, Mexico
August 9-10: Tiszaujvaros, Hungary
- © Fairfax NZ News
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