VICKY Holland has backed her less-discussed Leeds compatriots Lucy Hall and Jess Learmonth to excel in Sunday’s elite women’s race of the ITU World Triathlon Leeds.
Leeds duo Holland and Non Stanford are both heading for the Rio Olympics along with Helen Jenkins, who misses this weekend’s event after focusing on sealing Games qualification by winning the Gold Coast leg in April.
But two other triathletes will also represent Leeds on Sunday in Learmonth and Hall, and Holland expects both to put up bold showings.
Birmingham’s Jodie Stimpson completes the quintet of British runners – all bidding to fell reigning dual world champion Gwen Jorgensen of the USA.
Holland said: “Lucy and Jess are phenomenal swim-bikers and I think they will look to utilise that on this course.
“It’s a small field in terms of the international field that’s come but it’s a very strong field if you look at the top end of it.
“I think maybe the top seven from the Chicago Grand Final of last year are all racing this weekend so it’s a very strong field even though there’s not that many.
“So splitting up the race will be interesting and maybe that’s the way that Lucy and Jess will approach it. The rest of us will try and hang on!”
Holland was brought up in Gloucester but moved to Leeds in 2014 and now shares a house with 2013 world champion Stanford.
The 30-year-old is delighted that the ITU World Series is coming to Leeds.
“I’m really excited that it’s here and the way the city has got behind the event so far,” said Holland.
“You have probably seen our faces plastered everywhere – it’s a bit scary.
“I don’t know whether it’s really cool or embarrassing but it’s amazing and I think Leeds is very good at getting behind big sporting events.
“We have seen the response to the Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour de France and I think this weekend is going to be another great event.
“I think people are really going to get behind it and it’s in the city centre so it’s going to be great for people to come and watch.
“I am really excited to get in there and be part of it.”
Sizing up her own aims for the race, Holland pondered: “It’s hard because I am so focused on Rio and everything is still a stepping stone to Rio.
“I have had some really good training, I’ve had some not such good training, and this is still just another step on our way through to Rio. That’s the one that really counts.”