Andrea Hewitt soared to her second consecutive victory in the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series today in Yokohama. After a virtuoso performance at last weekend’s Grand Final in Beijing, Hewitt followed that up with another stunning display for her third career WCS win and second in as many weeks.
“To back up Beijing here in Japan is really cool,” said Hewitt. “Each lap got hotter and hotter and harder and harder and I probably slowed down as well but I managed to hold on so I’m so happy.”
Emma Moffatt came across for silver while Hewitt’s teammate Kate McIlroy made it two on the podium for New Zealand after breaking through for her first podium finish at the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series.
A hot, humid day welcomed the women for the start of the race. With air temperature officially at 28 degrees and rising, it was a real fight from the start.
Out of the 1.5km swim, British junior Lucy Hall led the women out of Yokohama Bay with World Champion Helen Jenkins just behind her, reminiscent of Lausanne last month. The pair headed out on the 8-lap bike course together but only to see their lead dwindle as the chase group pulled even by the third lap. The new lead pack of 25 women included most of the big pre-race contenders including Hewitt, Moffatt, Lisa Norden, and Emma Jackson.
The chase group of about 22 women included Nicola Spirig, Vanessa Fernandes, Kate Roberts, Under23 World Champion Agnieszka Jerzyk and Ai Ueda, Japan’s top hope and one of the best runners on the circuit. Slowly but surely this group chipped away at the one-minute lead. By the seventh of eight laps, the chase pack joined the leaders, resulting in a big group of 48 women heading into T2 together.
First into transition and onto the run course was Spirig, followed closely by McIlroy. But it didn’t take long for Hewitt to power to the front. As the temperatures soared above 30, the humidity played a bigger role in the race. Early in the first of four laps, Hewitt and Moffatt pushed to the front while Spirig quickly dropped off and Jenkins surged to third place.
Setting a torrid pace, Hewitt soon dropped Moffatt and emerged as the woman to beat in this race while a battle ensued for silver and bronze. At one point Jenkins had pulled ahead of Moffatt but it was short-lived as the World Champion Jenkins couldn’t keep up.
Clutching a comfortable lead, Hewitt had enough time to high-five the Japanese fans as she approached the finish line, stopping the clock at 1 hour, 59 minutes and 17 seconds.
“Today was about a run race,” said Hewitt, who blazed to the day’s fastest split of 34:30. “A big group came off the bike together so I went out as hard as I could on the run and ran the first part with Emma Moffatt. After that when I was alone, I was just looking forward. I didn’t want to look back; I was just going for the finish line and going as hard as I could.”
Moffatt finished up 13 seconds back of Hewitt to secure silver. McIlroy won the battle for bronze over Ireland’s Aileen Morrison, Jackson and Jenkins who faded to sixth place.
“I wanted to go out solid without making myself pass out for the last couple of laps. I just tried to keep that control for the first few laps and use whatever I had left for the last two. I kept telling myself, only two more laps to go in the season and I’m done and it seemed to work. Andrea obviously had a bit more in the tank and had a really good race,” said Moffatt.
“It’s a really awesome way to end the season. I’ve had a really up and down season with injury. I got outsprinted last weekend in Beijing, when I was running in third for most of the race, and I was determined not to let it happen here, so I went with 300 or 400 metres to go and managed to hold them all off. I’m really happy and it’s amazing to have a New Zealand one, three,” said McIlroy.
Fernandes finished up in 26th place in the first major race of her comeback.
Before the race, a moment of silence was observed for the victims of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March. This event was the first major international sporting event in Japan since then.
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