National Sprint Champs Preview: Two Provinces

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The Super Series makes its third stop of the season this weekend at the Two Provinces Triathlon, where the winners will also pick up the titles of National Sprint Champions for 2016.

As you would expect for a National Championships, the field is packed with top athletes who will be looking to defend their titles from last year, or aiming to add one of the biggest races of the season to their already impressive list of victories.

Two Provinces Race Map

The Course

The course at Two Provinces is famously fast and very straight forward, which will go a long way towards removing luck as one of the factors that could decide the outcome.

The 750m swim begins in what is reputed to be the warmest water in the whole of the country. Thanks to the local ESB power station, which discharges warm (but perfectly clean) water just upstream of the swim site, the waters where the River Shannon meet Lough Ree are always a few degrees warmer than any other part of the lake.

The bike course is probably the most straightforward of any race in the country, with competitors making just two turns in the village before the road heads north-west in an absolute straight line for almost 9km before doubling back on itself. As a result there will literally be nowhere to hide for any packs of riders that manage to break away early on the draft-legal bike leg. On top of this, everyone will know exactly where they stand once they hit the turnaround point.

Like the bike, the 5km run course in Lanesborough couldn't be simpler and heads more or less in a single straight line from transition for 2.5km before a tight turn brings competitors back along the same route. It is however a little less flat and what appears to be nothing more than a gentle rise to a bystander will take a toll on the athletes when the chase for the finish line is in full flight.

Age Group Race

Two Provinces will also carry Vodafone National Series points and with hundreds of competitors in the non-drafting format, the battle in the Age Group race could be every bit as fierce as amongst the Cat1 athletes. More information on wave times and the route is available on the Two Provinces website.

Five from the Men's Field

Thirty five Cat1 male athletes are listed to start Two Provinces. Below is a run through of just five of the main competitors and comes with the caution that over a sprint distance race there could well be a bolter we've missed out on.

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Darren Dunne

Darren Dunne won Two Provinces convincingly in 2015 when it was still a non-drafting event. But the 19-year-old, who lines up on Saturday is a different athlete to last year's victor. Already this summer Dunne has stood on the podium at both of the Super Series races he has entered and had a particularly impressive performance at sprint distance in the Firmus City of Derry race. The shorter distance should suit Dunne and he is definitely one to watch out for on the run.

Chris Mintern City of Derry

Chris Mintern

Mintern was crowned National Standard Distance Champion at the last Super Series race in Hell of the West and will be heading in to Two Provinces full of confidence. Last week he guided Cork Triathlon Club to victory in the National Relay Championships thanks to some very impressive splits. Very few athletes have ever managed to win both Sprint and Standard distance titles in the same year, but Mintern could be one to buck this trend.

Cillian Tierney HOTW 2016 1

Cillian Tierney

Cillian Tierney was one of the standout performers from Hell of the West, finishing on the podium of a famously gruelling race at the age of just 18. Tierney should be even stronger over the shorter distance and can be expected to be in the mix for the podium again this weekend. 

Kieran Jackson City of Derry 2016

Kieran Jackson

Jackson finished a very creditable 20th at the European Cup race last month in Weert. He missed out on Hell of the West, where he would have been among the favourites to compete for the title. With probably the most international ITU experience of any athlete in the men's field, Jackson will be tactically very astute.

 

James Edgar

James Edgar

Jamess Edgar will be lining out in his first Super Series race of 2016 at Two Provinces but the 18-year-old has had a relatively busy year so far,  placing 15th at the Junior European Cup race at Holten in the Netherlands and an impressive 6th at the ETU Quarteira event in Portugal back in April.

Five From The Women's Field

No fewer than 29 female athletes are registered to race in Two Provinces and even accounting for the inevitable handful of non-starters, the women's field will be one of the largest ever seen at a Super Series race with lots of fast swimmers who could upset the odds. Going on current form, here are five to watch.

Carolyn Hayes North Tipp Sprint

Carolyn Hayes

The defending champion at Sprint Distance, Carolyn Hayes has been racing her way to fitness this season and in the absence of Laura Tighe (who is off on international duty in Hamburg) will be one of the clear favourites in the race. Tactics would well play a big role in the women's race and Hayes will surely look to use her exceptional swim abilities (she retained the National Aquathlon Championships for the 3rd straight year earlier this month) to carve out as a big a lead as she can over the famously fast finishing Heather Foley. 

Heather Foley City of Derry 2016

Heather Foley

Although a powerful swimmer, Foley is almost unmatched when it comes to her ability to reel in competitors on the bike and run. On numerous occasions, the reigning National Duathlon Champion has run her way to victory, the question on Saturday will be whether there is enough road in a Sprint distance event for Foley to make her strengths count.  

Rachel Hawker City of Derry 2016

Rachel Hawker

Last year's Super Series winner currently lies third in the Super Series rankings, thanks to finishing 5th at Hell of the West and 9th at Firmus City of Derry. 23 year old Hawker is one of the fastest swimmers in the race and if she manages to get in the right bike pack will be poised to challenge for the podium on the 5km run leg.  

Ellen Murphy

Ellen Murphy

Murphy helped her Belpark team on the podium at last weekend's Mixed Relay Championships and currently lies in 4th place on the Super Series rankings. As one of the stronger bikers in the race, hers will be a wheel many of the women will seek out on the 20km route.

Carlow Tri-437

Aine Donegan

Donegan is yet to race a Super Series race but is definitely a woman to watch. She finished 4th overall and was the first Irish woman in the Middle Distance race at Challenge Galway. With her strong biking and powerful running, she is perhaps more suited to longer distances but if she manages to find other women to work with following the swim, she could well be in the mix for the top places at the finish line.

Men's Field 

David

Shelley

Trilogy Triathlon Club

Michael

Macken

Athlone TC

Alex

Gray

Wicklow TC

Loughlin

Campion

3D TC

Lochlainn

Connolly

Invictus TC

Anthony

Mulholland

Piranha TC

Enda

Bagnall

Edenderry TC

Maciej

Brumm

Emmett

Mullan

Northwest TC

Niall

Cornyn

Chris

Mcnevison

Lisburn TC

Michael

Sinton

Lisburn TC

Brian

Harris

Wicklow TC

Brendan

Crawford

Belpark TC

Luke

McCarron

Northwest TC

Tiernan

Burke

Predator TC

Aichlinn

O'reilly

Kieran

Jackson

Edwin

Sutton

Cork TC

Bernard

McCullagh

Shane

Dunne

Liquid Motion TC

Cillian

Tierney

GoTri TC

Odhran

Mckane 

Northwest TC

Raymond

Byrne

Eoin

Lyons

Waterford TC

Neil

Bolger

Pulse Triathlon Club

Sebastian

Helka

South Coast TC

Christopher

Mintern

Cork TC

Liam

Murray

Virgina Triathlon & Cyling Club

Jack

Mc gowan

Tri an Mhi TC

Marcus

Mcgowan

MSC Tri 

Aonghus

O Leary 

James

Edgar

Darren

Dunne

Brendan g

Murphy

Belpark TC

Kevin

O'Donnell

Sligo Triathlon Club

Women's Field

Denise

Compton

Tipperary TC

Ellen

Murphy

Belpark TC

Niamh

Ryan

Aine

Donegan

Fingal TC

Eimear

Mathews

Siobhan

Gallagher

247 Triathlon Club

Becky

Coughlan

Rachel

Hawker

Niamh

Corry

Fingal TC

Emer

Wintsch

Olivia

Ni Shuilleabhain

Athlone TC

Heather

Foley

Paula

Burrows

Caron

Ryan

Laura

McGreal

Robert

McGreal

Andrea

Mc Guinness

Tri an Mhi TC

Elaine

Yelverton

Kirsten

Huysamen

Limerick TC

Triona

Mc Menamin

247 Triathlon Club

Joanne

Flanagan

GoTri TC

Estelle

Johnston

Armagh Pike Kickers

Derval

Devaney

Belpark TC

Caoimhe

Ni mhurchu

Sligo Triathlon Club

Siobhan

Ryan

Carolyn maria

Hayes

Limerick TC

Jennifer

Algar

Sligo Triathlon Club

Laura

Wylie

Hi-Elbow TC

Katherine

Kelly

Portmarnock TC