The return of the number one Spanish team and competition within some nations for places at this year’s ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships will guarantee top-class racing at this weekend’s world cup in Duisburg, Germany.

Adding extra spice to the event will be the arrival of teams from lesser-known canoeing nations, including a small team from North Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, Iraq and Uganda.

Canoe sprint powerhouse Hungary will also have a team in Duisburg after missing last weekend’s world cup. However many of their biggest names, including five-time Olympic gold medalist Danuta Kozak, will again be absent.

Spain is considered one of the greatest threats to Germany’s dominance of the men’s kayak competition, and especially the team boats. After missing last weekend’s world cup in Poznan, the powerful Spanish K4 combination will be on show in Duisburg.

But the German team will be at the top of its game this weekend, as the world cup is doubling as its selection event for this year’s World Championships. Several other teams are also tinkering with team boat combinations, adding extra pressure to the competition.

Spanish world champion Carlos Garrote returns in the men’s K1 200, and his showdown with British Olympic champion Liam Heath will be an event highlight.

In the K2 men’s 1000, Marcus Gross is back after missing last weekend through illness, and will team up with world championship partner Max Hoff once again. Jacob Schopf, who helped Hoff to gold in Poznan, will team up with 20-year-old Tamas Gecsoe.

Schopf is being touted as the next big thing in world canoeing, which may make life interesting for the more experienced Hoff/Gross combination.

Canada’s Laurance Vincent-Lapointe and Katie Vincent will face a tougher time this weekend in the women’s C2 500, with the return of Hungary’s Virag Balla and in Kincso Takacs, and Russia’s Olesia Romasenko and Kseniia Kurach.

World champions Yul Oeltze and Peter Kretschmer have consistently seen off every challenge that’s been made to them in the men’s C2 1000, but once again will have to withstand German teammates and Olympic gold medalist, Sebastian Brendel and Jan Vendrey, this weekend.

A place in the German world championship team is at stake.

Brendel, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, was surprisingly off the pace in Poznan last weekend in both the C1 and C2 compeittions, but is a notoriously slow starter to the season. Cuba’s surprise C1 1000 gold medalist, Jose Pelier Cordova, is a non-starter this weekend.

Lisa Carrington and her New Zealand K4 teammates have returned home, but there is still no shortage of world champions and Olympic gold medalists in action, including Portugal’s Fernando Pimenta in the men’s K1 1000, and Canada’s Vincent-Lapointe in the women’s C1 200.

The ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup begins on Friday in Duisburg.

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