On Sunday June 3rd, the fourth edition of Rev3 Quassy takes place in Middlebury, Connecticut. Ever since its inception in 2009, Rev3 has enticed one of the most competitive professional fields in all of triathlon to the shores of Lake Quassapaug to vie for its share of the $125,000 prize purse.
This year is no exception, as well over fifty professional men and women will attempt to take home the $17,500 winner’s check.
As in years past, the 2012 race plays hosts to several former world champions. On both the men’s and women’s side of the coin, expect to see some long resumes – and the accompanying egos – placed on the line.
Examining the men’s race, the number one seed is last year’s champion, from South Africa, James Cunnama. Having literally ridden and run away with the crown, Cunnama has the confidence that he can make up the deficit he will likely face out of the water. If James has fully recovered from the injury – and subsequent surgery – that sidelined him at the end of 2011, his strength across the hilly terrain will put him as a clear favorite to win back-to-back titles.
A long list of men is waiting to stop Cunnama from being the first man to have a repeat victory at Quassy. Standing tall atop that list is Matty Reed from Boulder, Colorado. The man who won that first ever Rev3 title is anxiously waiting for his breakout performance of the year. Reed’s race from the front style typically means that he gains or loses confidence by the company he keeps. If he can build the swim/ bike lead he is so comfortable with, there is little doubt that his competitors will have little chance of closing the gap.
Experience on the Quassy course pays big dividends, and not many folks have the experience here – as well as the strength – to contend on this course like training partners and Aussie mates, Richie Cunningham and Joe Gambles. Each of these athletes has tackled all three previous Quassy events, and have taken home a nice bit of Rev3 cash in the process. Cunningham is the ever-present tactician, whose hot streak in 2012 has allowed him to contend for a podium in nearly every event he has entered. His well rounded approach to triathlon will be capped off on Sunday with a blazing fast run – a true weapon to have against this field. Gambles has not shown his cards as frequently or as openly this season, only having finished the early season IM Melbourne (8th place). Surely motivated to prove his form, Gambles has the know-how and the tools to put himself on a precious and lucrative podium spot.
In addition to our regular Rev3 contenders, a smattering of talented and hungry men are eager to tackle their first ever Quassy event. Fresh off a hard fought title defense last month, two-time Wildflower winner Jesse Thomas is in peak form, and enters this event with proven strength and speed to take down some of the talented favorites. His inexperience on the course could be a blessing, as there will be little holding back once he leaves the lake. Another athlete who shares the wicked run speed that characterizes Oregon’s Thomas’ race is Kaleb Van Ort, a man whose short course speed could come in quite handy in chasing down the traditional long course talent up front.
Well proven at the half distance, Aussie Paul Matthews has a dangerous style of racing, whereby he takes plenty of risks in racing off the front. If he teams up with other powerful swimmer-bikers like fellow Aussie Clayton Fettell (who should be first into T1), he is more than capable of running to the top step of the podium.
A few highly talented wildcards could also make surprising appearances at the front of this race. Most notably Brian Fleischmann, Chris McDonald and Rich Allen – three men who have vast experience across all distances – should be competitive in each leg of the triathlon.
And finally, two steely veterans are jumping into the fray this weekend, each with enough of a pedigree that to overlook their presence would be foolish. American Tim DeBoom – a two-time Kona champ and multiple IM winner – is making his first Rev3 appearance. Another multiple IM champ, who is no stranger to Rev3 events, is Viktor Zymstev from the Ukraine. Viktor’s run speed is highly feared by many of his competitors.
Regardless of whether this race is won with a frontrunner’s attempt, or a come-from-behind approach, we can be sure that the battle will be hard fought and exciting. We also know that significant changes to the overall Rev3 Series Leaderboard are afoot, as our points leader Cam Dye is not on this weekend’s start list.
One of the only race rosters on the circuit that has ever rivaled the high level of competitiveness of the men tackling Quassy is Rev3’s pro women’s field. And this year is no exception. While the women will not have to contend with superstar Julie Dibens, who is forsaking her title defense to work the sidelines in a supportive role (and rebuild her body after surgery), they certainly have their hands full.
To select one clear favorite is a challenging task, but combing over the roster, four potential champions quickly rise to the top of this elite field. Having proven that she can win on the big days, two-time Quassy winner and 2010 Kona champ, Mirinda Carfrae arrives with the most balanced attack of the true contenders. The success of her race hinges on her ability to punch out a competitive bike time, while keeping in reserve enough energy to hold her mantle as the sport’s fastest runner. With a much improved swim leg, Rinny should be out of the lake near enough to the leaders to draw close to the front early on in the show. If she’s within a minute or two of the lead by T2, her tenacity coupled with her powerful stride will enable her to win or collapse trying.
Kelly Williamson, a former second-place finisher at Quassy (2010 behind Carfrae), has shown in 2012 that her cycling is not as weak as it once was. The strong swimmer, and even stronger runner out of Austin, Texas needs to keep the gas pedal down for 56 miles, and not let Rinny catch or gap her on the ride. If Kelly’s bike split keeps her even or ahead of Rinny, it could be a true cage match to the death, as both women routinely split their half marathons well under 1:19. Kelly’s hot streak this spring most definitely makes her a confident racer, but will confidence translate to the stellar performance she’ll need to win?
Heather Jackson has recently joined the ranks of women who can punish themselves to phenomenal run splits. Well known as one of triathlon’s strongest cyclists, Jackson showed at Wildflower as well as at Oceanside that her running speed rivals that of the sport’s best. Provided she does not lose too much time in the water, Heather is well primed to improve on last year’s fifth place finish. Her star is rising, but has it risen enough to pull off the upset against the tough Quassy field? Time will tell.
The fourth women who has regularly shown a dominant bike/ run combo is last year’s third-place finisher Angela Naeth. Working with a powerful bike ride, Naeth has the ability to pull near or even with the race leaders by T2; however, the question is whether or not she can take the lead over her fleet footed rivals. With any less than three minutes advantage in T2, Naeth will struggle to keep in front of a hard charging trio of Carfrae, Williamson and Jackson. But with the time gap in her favor (more than three minutes), she could easily take a step or two up the podium from her 2011 performance.
Rev3 Quassy always manages to draw a deep field, and beyond our four favorites, there are several women who are primed and ready to dethrone and disappoint the aforementioned quartet.
Atop that list is four-time Ironman champion, Heather Wurtele from Canada. Recently Heather finished a close second place at the New Orleans duathlon, showing that her typical form of dominance (swim fast, bike faster, run strong) is not the only way she can excel. If Wurtele brings her A game across all three sports, she’s going to shove her way right onto the podium.
Next in line to upstage the favorites are Rev3 Racing Teammates, Jessica Meyers and Malaika Homo. Both women are targeting the entire Series, and know that big points, big money, and big bragging rights are on the line Sunday. Quassy’s Half Rev format – and its punishing hills – suit these two strong and speedy ladies to a tee. And each one is coming closer and closer to their late-season-peaking form.
Less proven at the half distance, but each equipped with top-notch swim/ run combos, Laurel Wassner, Lauren Goss and Nicole Kelleher each have what it takes to factor into the mix later in the game. If they ride well over Connecticut’s brutal hills, the top five is within their grasps.
The beautiful thing about triathlon is that nobody’s resume can do the day’s swimming, biking, or running for them; and when the accolades and recent results are ignored, the good fights can truly begin. This weekend promises to feature like a Battle Royale, from start to finish.
written by Michael Lovato