Casper Stornes is up for the challenge of defending his Elite Men’s title during MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda today, competing against what he believes is a stronger field than what he conquered a year ago.
“I’m feeling better this year; better trained and feeling overall much better,” he said. “It’s a stronger field this year than it was last year for sure.”
While he feels good about his condition and preparations, the Norwegian knows he has his work cut out competing against a star-studded field that includes former world champions and Olympic medal-winners Javier Gómez Noya and Jonathan Brownlee.
“I think this is going to be a lot harder to get away on the bike since it’s a better field with Javier and Johnny,” Stornes added.
During the bike stage last year when the 22-year-old broke away from the field on the third lap and maintained his lead the rest of the way to secure a maiden world series title.
“I was planning to stay in the group and save energy but I went a bit earlier,” Stornes said.
“I was just thinking just lay into the bar until they catch me and go off the hill on the power. But I saw I had a 25-seconds lead on one lap and then I was thinking I can’t stop now; I just have to continue.”
Stornes’s unexpected triumph exceeded his expectations.
“I didn’t expect to win,” he said. “My expectation was maybe a top ten.”
Stornes, ranked 23rd in the world, concedes that there is more pressure on him this time around as the defending champion.
“It is a bigger pressure than last year since no one knew who I was,” he said.
Stornes’s compatriots Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden finished second and third respectively last year, making Norway the first nation to sweep the podium at a world series event.
“The Norwegian team did amazing last year and is something really hard to do at this level of competition so my respect for that,” Stornes said.
Blummenfelt and Iden are also returning among a strong field that boasts three-times defending world champion Mario Mola, who is going in with plenty of momentum, having won the season opener in Abu Dhabi last month.
Gómez, the five-times world champion and Olympic silver medal-winner from Spain, is among those making their debut in this year.
“It’s my first time here in Bermuda and I love the course, so hopefully I can have a good one and make some improvements as well for the next races coming up,” he said. “Obviously when you hit the start line, you want to win the race, you want to try to do your best.”
Gómez is making his much awaited comeback to WTS racing in his preparation for the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year.
“I’m excited to be back in ITU racing after a year of being more focused on longer distances,” he said.
“It’s my first big race this year and the goal is to qualify for Tokyo, so let’s see how it goes.
“I’ve been doing this for many years and this race is really tough and really competitive. I believe the best athletes in the world are doing this kind of racing. It’s a very tough competition that if you have a bad day you can finish 20th or 30th.
“It’s very tight, very competitive and you cannot make any mistake.”
Go to www.royalgazette.com to view a live stream of the elite races