2016 WPE season officially kicks off in Buffalo City
The 2016 WPE season officially kicks off this weekend with the 2016 Buffalo City ITU World Paratriathlon Event. The race continues the battle to earn qualification points for the Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games this summer where paratriathlon will also officially make its Paralympic debut with the women’s PT2, PT4 and PT5 sport classes, while men from PT1, PT2 and PT4 will be represented.
On both the men’s and women’s side, the rosters are stacked and filled with talent from athletes looking to toe the line at Copacabana Beach in September. With Continental Championships still looming for the European and Asian athletes, it is further important those athletes clench crucial Paralympic qualifying points this weekend, meaning you should expect a showdown in the races come Sunday.
The Great Britain National Champion, Phil Hogg, is topping the start list for the men’s PT1 sport class. Buffalo City is the event to open up his 2016 race season and he continues to remain one of the strongest British contenders for Rio this summer. But Brazil’s Fernando Aranha and Spain’s Jose Vicente Arzo Diago are also names that are expected to do extremely well this weekend. While Aranha finished behind Hogg in the World Championships last year, he was the Detroit WPE champion and also was crowned the Brazilian National Champion for 2015. Arzo on the other hand is the Spanish National Champion, so it will be close to see which Champion can trump them all.
However, Buffalo City will see some powerful opponents that could shake up the race. South Africa’s own Anton Swanepoel got third in this race last year and will want to podium again. Giovanni Achenza (ITA) won last year in Edmonton WPE and placed fifth in the Chicago Grand Final, the highest finish on the start list. Lastly, Frenchman Alexandre Paviza had three WPE podiums last year but never was able to secure the win, but that could all change in Buffalo City. As one of the most competitive sport classes booked for Rio, the Buffalo City World Paratriathlon Event is a critical race to earn points for Paralympic qualification.
Racing solo for the women’s PT1 sport class is Catherine Van Staden of South Africa.
The 2015 season was a strong year for Italian Michele Ferrarin. He was the Italian National Champion and he podiumed in every race he contested, which included WPE gold medals in London and at the Chicago Grand Final where he was crowned the World Champion. So with Buffalo City as his…