‘Corkscrew Hill will be defining feature’
Officials have said there was no second guessing concerning the course for tomorrow’s MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda, with the accidents that marred the first race of the series in Abu Dhabi labelled “an aberration”.
The feature of the Bermuda course will be Corkscrew Hill, up which cyclists will ride ten times during tomorrow’s elite men’s and women’s races, and Phil Schmidt, the chairman of WTS Bermuda, said it was “designed to maximise entertainment for the crowd and challenge for the athletes”.
Flora Duffy, the two-times defending world champion and home favourite, was one of several competitors who crashed on their bicycles in Abu Dhabi eight weeks ago and Steve Petty, the Bermuda Triathlon Association president, dismissed the chances of such an incident happening in Bermuda.
“Abu Dhabi was an aberration,” Petty said. “That is a motorsports track. It never really rains. There was so much oil on that track and as soon as it rained, it brought it to the surface and it was really dangerous. I think the whole ITU committee [were] looking at how do they avoid something like that happening, but in Bermuda, [if] it rains once, it cleans the road. We’ll be fine.”
Schmidt said the Hamilton course has been well prepared over the past few weeks.
“If you’ve look at what happened in town over the last few months, most of the roads have been re-paved, so the course should be in pristine condition and we’ve had a lot of help from government departments and the Corporation of Hamilton,” he said.
“The course is as good as it gets. Behind the scenes, I’ve chatted to some of the athletes, Rachel [Klamer, the WTS leader who won in Abu Dhabi], I spoke to yesterday morning over breakfast briefly about some of the oil that comes out sometimes on the racecourse, so they know, and Flora is a local, so she knows anyway what the course is like, so [there has been] no second guessing, it should be fantastic racing.
“We actually have history that suggests [Corkscrew Hill is] the right thing to do. Steve was there 20 years ago when we had a World Cup here that went up Corkscrew and there was no doubt that that was going to be the feature and we’re expecting crowds on that hill to really cheer on the athletes.”
Schmidt also spoke about the vision organisers had for the course.
“When I started out I was like: ‘What if we had a course that combined the best of what the World Triathlon Series offers’,” he said. “So like a hill, like in Rio on the bike course. A run hill, like in Stockholm, for example.
“What if we had a home hero crowd, like we see in Leeds? And then we created this race and it turned out to be a fantastic course now that runs up Corkscrew Hill, has a swim in the ocean, crystal clear.
Hopefully the sun will shine and make that turquoise blue really come out and shine out.”
Meanwhile, Petty is hopeful that the course will be in local heroine Duffy’s favour.
“The good thing about triathlon is that it’s three disciplines and the courses the ITU are now using are very short, criterium style, so the racers are coming by many times,” he said.
“The cyclists will pass the same point ten times, so ten times up Corkscrew Hill, which, as Phil mentioned, 20 years ago was really received well because it gave the cyclists within the group the chance to have a challenge, when it used to all come to the run and the fastest runner would win. But now these courses are more challenging, the cyclists tend to spread it out, and that’s to Flora’s favour, but it’s also to a lot of the other athletes’. They like a challenging course.
“But back to the spectator experience - the fact that they run four times by the finish area, they swim twice, two loops, and ten times on the bike, gives spectators the chance to see and really get involved in the race.”
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