Rev It Up, The 1996 Season Begins!
As most of North America succumbed to a deep freeze during
the first week of February, things were heating up in Santos,
Brazil. The $50,000 Bliss /Timex Triathlon, richest in South
America, is the first race on the 1996 Triathlon Professional
Tour. Athletes from all over the World arrived in hopes
of capturing the $10,000 first place prize.
Nine countries were represented with a strong womens
field of Michelle Jones (Australia), Sue Latshaw and Lauren
Alexander (US), Suzzane Nielson (Denmark), Ute Schaffer
(Germany) and Fernanda Keller (Brazil).
The mens field included a strong US contingent as
the top 5 Americans on the Inside Triathlon All-American
list, Mike Pigg, Mark Allen, Wes Hobson, Jimmy Riccitello
and the defending Santos champion Ken Glah were present.
Also racing was Russian and future American Alec Rukoseuv,
German Lothar Leder, Argentinean Oscar Galindez, the current
World Duathlon Champion. Brazil was well represented with
top pros Leandro Macedo, Alexander Manzan, Marcus Onellas
and Armando Barcellos.
Rukoseuv, Leder and Hobson arrived in Brazil Wednesday
to get acclimated to the climate, but their bags and bikes
decided to takes detours. As race day approached, the three
decided to have their own race on Sunday with a 1.5k swim
and a 50k run as the loser buys the beer. With the help
of Nubio de Almeidia and his organization, the three received
their luggage from the airlines on Saturday with Hobson
getting his at 11:30 PM.
Brazilians have embraced the sport of triathlon and the
national and international media present created a high
profile race atmosphere. The question to the athletes was
who was in the best shape this early in the season. Most
of the athletes had only been training 4-6 weeks after taking
a month or two off in November and December. Jones was confident
with a solid month of training in San Diego. Latshaw had
been snow shoeing and skate skiing in Boulder. Schaffer
and Nielson were braving the chill in Europe. Wanklyn and
her husband Glah have been training for the New Zealand
For the men, Riccitello felt confident, eyeing this race
and training well for two months. Leder moved in with Rukoseuv
January 1, in Florida. They both questioned their fitness,
but a 5k run race the previous week of 15:21 and 15:15 respectively
indicated they were by no means unfit. Pigg had been training
by himself at his home in Arcata. Hobson moved to Tucson
January 10 to get some consistent weather. Galindez had
been racing and winning in Argentina December and January,
but he realizes the competition in Santos is much tougher.
Macedo, after competing with an injury at Santos last year
and finishing seventh, wanted to redeem himself in front
of his countrymen. Allen was probably the most prepared
and focused for the race. Since competing in Thailand at
the end of October, he has swum three times in a pool, biked
once a week during the previous five weeks and run three
times a week of no more than five miles. His goal was to
beat all of the women.
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