FORMER world champion Non Stanford admits there’s no hiding the desire for a home victory on Sunday, even if the ITU World Triathlon Leeds naturally plays second fiddle to the Olympic Games.
Stanford, 27, will be one of five Brits competing in Sunday’s elite women’s race and one of four based in Leeds. The 2013 world champion will be joined by Adel flat-mate Vicky Holland who is also Rio Olympics bound, with Sunday’s Leeds contingent completed by Lucy Hall and Jess Learmonth.
Birmingham’s Jodie Stimpson completes the British quintet with Helen Jenkins – the third female member of this summer’s GB Olympic party – sitting the race out having focused on sealing Games qualification by winning the ITU Gold Coast leg in April.
Stanford and Holland had already qualified for Rio and Stanford admits neither will be in peak condition on Sunday with everything geared around peaking to perfection in Rio. There is, though, nonetheless, no hiding the desire for a ‘home win’ in Leeds.
Stanford reasoned: “This Sunday is our last opportunity to race in front of a home crowd and that’s going to be really special for us. Hopefully there will be a home advantage and it’s all part of the build up to the Games.
“I don’t think any of us are in that peak condition that we want to be in for the Games and I don’t want to be in the best condition yet. We want to peak right in time for the Games.
“But it will be exciting and I know we all want to go out there and perform well in front of a home crowd and definitely we are all hoping to podium which would be fantastic here in Leeds – though we have to remember that’s all part of the process of getting to the Games.
“There’s five of us that are racing and I’d like to think that out of the five of us, there is definitely a chance of at least one of us podiuming. I would love to come out in Leeds and perform well. I have been here for five years and Vicky has been here for the last three years so we’d like to come out and put on a show for the home crowd. There will be a strong British contingent and I think the international field is really strong as well. Gwen Jorgensen is obviously the hot favourite for gold in Rio this year and then there’s Flora Duffy who has been doing very well in the series. We are not going to be short of any tough competition, that’s for sure.”
Uniquely, the start line for Sunday’s race in Roundhay is only about a 10-mile drive from Stanford and Holland’s home in Adel.
There will, though, be a different choice of accommodation on Saturday night.
Stanford explained: “It’s going to be a bit bizarre and we are actually staying in a hotel on Saturday night before the race.
“It would be so weird to wake up in your house on the morning of a major event – sat on your sofa in your pyjamas watching Friends eating cereal and then being like ‘oh God, I’ve got to be on the road in an hour! It would be far too relaxed so we are going to go into a hotel the night before the race just to stimulate the normal race prep really, just to make sure that we are in the right head space before we go.
“We are staying right in the centre so we will be right in the middle of the action which is great.
“When we have finished we can then pop straight to the hotel and shower and go home. That’s amazing!”