1. Who will be the 2013 ITU World Champions? Things just got really interesting.
In the men's race, the last five ITU World Championships have either been claimed by a Brownlee (Alistair 2009, 2011, Jonny 2012) or Javier Gomez (2008, 2010). Right now, with just Hamburg, Stockholm and the London Grand Final to come, Gomez is leading the rankings and has 1144 points on both Brownlees - who are tied at two wins apiece at sixth. Mathematically, it means either Brownlee is still in with a chance, but Gomez is in the box seat. Then of course there are those who sit between them, the in-form Mario Mola, Joao Silva, Richard Murray and Ivan Vasiliev who are all in with a brilliant shot at making not just the overall podium but the title as well. It seems the race is just heating up.
In the women's race, all signs are pointing towards a brand new champion being anointed in 2013. Currently the top four ranked women have not won a senior ITU World Championship. But right now it's hard to split Anne Haug, Jodie Stimpson, Non Stanford and Gwen Jorgensen. Will Haug go from overall silver to gold this year? Will Jorgensen use her past form on the London course to run away with it in September? Will Stanford go from an U23 world title to senior in just one year? Can Stimpson keep up her most brilliant year ever on the tour? Only time - and results - will tell.
One thing is for sure, Hamburg, Stockholm and London are all must-watch races.
2. Alistair Brownlee is really, really, really, really good.
Since taking gold at last year's London Olympics, Alistair has been a bit scarce on the WTS tour so let's take stock at some a couple of points just to reinforce - if you happened to miss it - that he's the man.
- Kitzbuehel made 14 WTS wins.
- The last time he finished off a WTS podium was at the very start of 2011, when he slipped on a rain-soaked Sydney road and finished 29th. Since then his ITU record reads 1-1-1-1-3-1-1-1-1-1-1.
3. Mario Mola can climb.
2013 has already been a breakthrough year for Mola, who finally turned potential into medals. And while he's shown he can definitely handle himself on a bike (Example A, he medalled in Auckland earlier this year) his performance on the Kitzbuehel climb was stunning. If you hadn't changed your description of Mola as 'All-Round Triathlete,' after Auckland, San Diego and Madrid, it's definitely apt now. Particulary as Mola also had the fastest run-split of the day in Kitzbuehel, yes even quicker than Brownlee, making it two races in a row he's clocked the fastest run.
4. Jodie Stimpson's rise continues.
Stimpson was a silver medallist in the women's U23 race at the 2009 ITU World Championships, and followed that up in 2010 with a number of top 10 finishes. Across the next two seasons, they proved hard to come by, but since joining Darren Smith's crew Stimpson has rocketed back to the top of the sport. Following her first World Cup win in Guatape last year, Stimpson has logged seven top-5 finishes including two bronze medals in Yokohama and Madrid. What happened in Kitzbuehel wasn't exactly a surprise, but her bold solo break with two kilometres to go was certainly impressive. Now, she's in with a real shot to take out the 2013 ITU World Championship.
5. Jacko's Back.
Australia's Emma Jackson had a brilliant 2011 season, her first series podium in Hamburg and finished fourth in the Olympic test event in London. 2012 didn't quite go to plan, although she did log an impressive 8th place in her debut Olympic race. Her early races this season had another dash of bad luck, but proved she can mix it with the best with a supreme display of climbing skills in Kitzbuehel to make it back onto the podium.
6. Gwen Jorgensen is still fast.
The fastest female currently on the circuit might have finished 18th and lost her overall rankings lead, but Jorgensen still posted the quickest run split of the day - even across a 136m climb. With courses that should suit her perfectly coming up in Hamburg, Stockholm and the London Grand Final, she's sitting pretty when it comes to the overall world title.
7. Sven Riederer - ITU's Mr Bronze.
It's a title bestowed by the one and only , and the Swiss master memorably called him up on it after the 2011 Beijing Grand Final where Riederer said he made an extra effort to claim silver just so Shepley wouldn't be able to call him Mr Third again. However, it seems old habits die hard and Riederer claimed yet another series medal in Kitzbuehel off the back of yet another stellar bike leg. It now puts him outright as the athlete who has collected the most series medals without a win. Riederer has seven series medals, including five bronze and two silver.
8. Breakthrough performances - Henri Schoeman.
Last year South Africa unearathed a bonafide star in Richard Murray, just a year later - have they found another? Schoeman has already impressed this WTS season with his impressive swim and n Kitzbuehel, he took that another level and seriously challenged for his first podium place and ended-up with fourth. One to keep an eye on. Also a shout out to Thomas Springer and Jason Wilson who also recorded career first WTS top-10 finishes. In the women's field, Katie Hewison recorded her first WTS top-10 finish.
9. The Tri-Angle analysts, how did they fair?
The pre-race chat with and said that all things point to again. They were right.
But how did they go with the other predictions, and what else did they think post-race? Catch the action here.
10. And finally, cows and triathletes. That's all.
I think you all will agree with famous ITU photo ninja Delly Carr, that's one hell of a snap by Janos Schmidt.
Stay tuned for the crucial next event of the ITU World Triathlon year, Hamburg, on July 20 and 21.