Triathlon battle for Bahier and Barr in Iseo

PTS2 showdown expected when Italy hosts World Series 29 Jun 2018
a male Para triathlete celebrating crossing the line and a male Para triathlete preparing to swim

Stephane Bahier (L) is looking forward to renewing his rivalry with Mark Barr in Iseo

ⒸGetty Images
By Adam Bailey | For the IPC

Two of Para triathlon’s biggest rivals - France’s Stephane Bahier and USA’s Mark Barr - will go head to head once again on Saturday (30 June) at the International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Para Triathlon Series in Iseo, Italy.

During their careers, the pair have raced against each other 10 times, with Bahier finishing ahead of Barr six times. Usually just seconds separate the two rivals in the PTS2 class, but this weekend Bahier is anticipating a “hotly contested” race chasing Great Britain’s race favourite Andrew Lewis.

“I think there will be some suspense until the end for the podium places, because if you look at this season’s results, all the athletes behind Andrew Lewis appear to be on the same level,” Bahier said.

Paralympic, world and European champion Lewis has been in outstanding form this season, winning the last two races, leaving Bahier and Barr chasing for the final podium spots.

At last year’s World Championships, only nine seconds separated Barr taking silver and Bahier bronze, and the two athletes have very different strengths.

With two fourth place finishes in swimming at the 2004 Paralympics, Barr has the advantage in the water. Bahier’s strength is cycling - a sport he competed in at the 2008 Paralympics - meaning it often comes down to the run.

“Whenever I race Mark, my race plan is simple - do not go out of the water too far behind him, but it never happens,” the 43-year-old said. “I then have to ride very, very hard and finish the race running as fast as I can with the little strength left in me.

“I still have a lot of work to do in running and swimming, but it's only the beginning of the season and I hope there will be good things to come,” Bahier added.

Having won in Iseo last year, the Frenchman knows what to expect.

“The swimming is demanding and sometimes it is done without a suit because the water is often very hot,” said Bahier.

“The bike course seems flat, but when you are racing in a high temperature, this is not obvious. The running takes place in the beautiful streets of Iseo and, again, if the temperature is the same as the previous years, it will not be easy.”

Rest of the field

The men’s PTWC in Iseo features all three medallists from last year’s World Championships, including Dutch Paralympic, world and European champion Jetze Plat. Canada’s world champion Stefan Daniel will compete in his first international event of the season in the men’s PTS5.

Australia’s Lauren Parker will continue her Para triathlon journey in the women’s PTWC, having already secured five podium finishes.

The USA’s Allysa Seely will aim to repeat her World Series win from Yokohama, Japan, in the women’s PTS2.

World champions Daniel Molina of Spain and France’s Elise Marc continue their seasons in the men’s and women’s PTS3 categories, respectively.

France’s Alexis Hanquinquant is unbeaten since June 2016 in the men’s PTS4, while Australia’s two-time world champion Sally Pilbeam will aim to improve her third-place finish from Yokohama in the women’s equivalent.

Great Britain’s world silver medallist Lauren Steadman was victorious in the women’s PTS5 at last year’s event, but France’s world bronze medallist Gwladys Lemoussu will challenge.

Steadman’s compatriot and world champion Dave Ellis is the favourite in the men’s PTVI competition, having won twice already this season. Spain’s world silver medallist Susana Rodriguez will go for a hat-trick of wins in 2018 in the women’s equivalent.

The 2018 Iseo World Para Triathlon Series can be followed online.