Lionel Sanders of Windsor, Ont., has won the 2016 Ironman Arizona and is a 12-time Ironman 70.3 champion. Sanders is among the elite field vying for the International Triathlon Union Long Course World Championship on Sunday. Emanuel Sequeira/Western News

Pro triathletes know Long Course field is deep

ITU Long Course world championship field is deep

France’s Sylvain Sudrie is back to defend his International Triathlon Union (ITU) Long Course World Championship title in Penticton.

That doesn’t concern Canadian Lionel Sanders, who is ready to dethrone the champ starting at 6:20 a.m. on Sunday in the three-kilometre swim, 120-km bike and 30-km run.

“I came here in good shape. I didn’t come here to do anything other than to … they can roll me away in a stretcher at the end for all I care, I definitely come here to try and take the win,” said Sanders of Windsor, Ont. during a press conference at the Penticton Lakeside Resort. “If I get beat, it’s because someone outworked me and that’s all there is to it.”

Sanders was taking questions from the media and public during the press conference Saturday morning that included local pros Jeffrey Symonds and Jen Annett, Australians Josh Amberger and Melissa Hauschildt, Great Britain’s Leanda Cave and Canadians Rachel McBride and Kelowna’s Heather Wurtele.

Sanders denied there is any pressure in facing Sudrie. Sanders, who won Ironman Arizona in 2016 and is a 12-time Ironman 70.3 champ, said he can only do what he is capable of. He has never faced Sudrie but has done research on the three-time ITU champ (France in 2013, 2014 and Oklahoma in 2016).

“I think anytime you can go for a world championship title, they can take records away from you, but they can’t take world titles away from you,” said the 29-year-old. “I feel like I’m entering sort of the peak of my career. It’s prime time. Now’s the time to show what you got.”

Australia’s Joshua Amberger is ready to take on a deep elite mens field for the ITU Long Course distance World Championship. Amberger is primarily a half-distance triathlete racing this distance for the second time.(Emanuel Sequeira/Western News)
Along with Symonds, Sanders is competing with a Canadian contingent that includes Jordan Bryden who is the 2017 Ultra 520K champion, Nathan Killam who finished third in the 2016 Canadian long distance championship and Cody Beals the 2017 Ironman 703. Eagelman second place finisher.

Australian Joshua Amberger will also be looking to find the podium in just his second time competing in this distance. In his ITU career, he has three wins and seven podium finishes in 33 starts. This season he has won Ironman 70.3 Calgary, Ironman 70.3 Jönköping and the Byron Bay Triathlon in Australia.

The 28-year-old likes to be at the front of the crowd and is confident there. Amberger said he knows he will have company from his French opposition, but as well as American Andy Potts. He said Potts may be 41, but “he’s one of the biggest hitters in triathlon ever.”

Among Potts accomplishments is being a two-time World Cup Champion, World Team Champion in 2006, the U.S. Triathlete of the Year and an Olympian in 2004.

On the women’s side, there will be a new champion as Jodie Swallow of Great Britain is not competing. Fellow Brit Leanda Cave will try and defend the World Championship for her country. Cave, who won this championship 10 years ago knows her opponents will be bringing their best.

Related: McBride eyeing another ITU Long Course medal

“I like to page my best on the girls having to chase me down, rather than me having to chase them down,” she said. “These girls I know are exceptional cyclists. They don’t leave anything out there.”

Among the women’s field, McBride is the lone female who reached the podium last year in Oklahoma who is competing.

Great Britain’s Leanda Cave is racing for the International Triathlon Union Long Course World Championship in Penticton Sunday. Cave won the 2002 Short Course World Championships in Cancun, Mexico, among her other accomplishments. (Emanuel Sequeira/Western News)
She and Amberger are impressed by what they have seen of the course.

“I love the fact that there is some hills in it. We don’t see a lot of races that challenge the athletes enough with climbing these days,” she said. “That’s exciting for me. I feel that climbing is definitely one of my strengths. A flat run I’m never going to complain about.”

Amberger, who hasn’t seen the entire course, said what he has seen is spectacular and reminds him of Queenstown in New Zealand.

“The lake and the hills. It seems like just a really good atmosphere to have a race in,” said Amberger, who has represented Australia several times. “I’m always a fan of a downtown, a downtown finish. Typically when it’s like that, the town is always getting behind it and there is always a lot of curiosity from people walking around. It’s nice to be racing in a city with so much triathlon history.