Edmonton ITU Triathlon World Cup race a stepping stone in Kyle Jones' career

Kyle Jones, shown here leading the chase pack during the 2012 London Olympics, has replaced a...

Kyle Jones, shown here leading the chase pack during the 2012 London Olympics, has replaced a semi-retired Simon Whitfield as this country's premier male triathlete. (QMI Agency)

CON GRIWKOWSKY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:44 PM ET

EDMONTON - There’s good reason the Edmonton ITU World Cup holds a special place in Kyle Jones’s heart.

Over the years, it has been a springboard into his transition as Canada’s face of triathlon.

It was just a couple of years ago that Jones finished fourth in the event. More significantly, though, he finished the race ahead of Simon Whitfield, the man who put triathlon on the Canadian sports map with his Olympic gold in 2000.

When Whitfield decided to no-show at last year’s event, Jones collected his first-ever World Cup win.

“Winning a race always leaves a good taste in your mouth and you want to come back next year,” said Jones. “For me to have the opportunity to defend the World Cup title and also the national championship title is important for me. It’s important for me to be here.

“The weather looks good. In the past we’ve had everything from rain to sunny to mosquitoes. We’ll be ready for whatever.”

Nobody’s really sure where the mosquitoes have gone this year, but it’s a sure bet that Jones is ready to sting the field again.

Now that Whitfield has gone into semi-retirement, Jones is ready to take on a leadership role as the face of the national team that has become much younger.

“It’s certainly a great opportunity for me,” said Jones. “Being the new leader of Triathlon Canada. What Simon did sort of set the bar for us.

“We’ve got a great new face of young guns coming up. It’s really fun for me. If I can help lead this group to success over the next 3-4 years, I look forward to that.”

With the London Olympics out of the way, Edmonton is one of the rare Canadian events able to show off just how much talent the young Canadian crew has as it builds toward the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

And his former training partner has shown the way.

“I certainly learned a lot from Simon over the years,” said Jones. “From giving training advice to how to carry yourself and maturing as an athlete. If I can pass on some words of wisdom to the young guns, that’s great for all of us. We have a young group that’s very talented and I think we’re going to see a lot of success over the next few years.”

With Whitfield out of the competitive triathlon picture, Jones moved back to the Hamilton area from Victoria in May.

After finishing a disappointing 25th at the London Olympics, Jones knew he had a long way to go.

“I spend most of the winter in Florida training and most of the summer I’ve spent in Europe,” said Jones. “It’s somewhere close for me to come home and be close to family. I have their support and a lot of great resources in that area.”

With the Rio Olympics still three years away, time is on his side. He’s still only 28 and the next Olympics will be right during the peak of his career.

“Last year was a bit of a breakthrough year for me — I progressed throughout the season,” said Jones. “Obviously, I didn’t have the performance I wanted to have at the Olympics, but I knew I was in great form.”

He continued to train and finished sixth at the 2012 Grand Final in Auckland.

“It was a real breakthrough for me,” said Jones. “Unfortunately, I crashed in the first two races of the World Cup this year. It’s been a bit of a rocky start. It’s just a matter of staying on my bike and putting it all together.”

2012 ITU WORLD CUP

WHO TO WATCH

Elite Female

Start time 1:15 p.m.

Erin Densham, Australia, No. 1

2012 Olympic bronze medallist.

Flora Duffy, Bermuda, No. 2

Second-place 2006 junior world.

Joanna Brown, Canada, No. 4

Third place finish at 2012 U23 Grand Final; 7th dmonton 2012.

Ellen Pennock, Canada, No. 8

Won 2011 PATCO junior elite in Edmonton; 4th Edmonton 2012.

Sarah-Anne Brault, Canada, No. 10

2011 Canadian champion; 2nd Edmonton 2012.

Chantell Widney, Canada, No. 12

Edmonton athlete finished fifth here in 2012.

Kirsten Sweetland, Canada, No. 18

Winner of 2006 junior world championship.

Elite male

Start time 2:45

Kyle Jones, Canada, No. 1

Defending champion; 6th place at 2012 Grand Final.

Richard Varga, Slovakia, No. 2

22nd London Olympics.

Andrew Yorke, Canada, No. 4

9th place Edmonton 2012.

Andrew McCartney, Canada, No. 8

2nd 2012 Kelowna Pan Am Cup.

Alexander Hinton, Canada, No. 10

2nd place Edmonton 2012.

con.griwkowsky@sunmedia.ca


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