In a perfectly timed break on the bike, Belgium’s Rob Woestenborghs won the men’s elite ITU Duathlon World Championships, which took place as a part of the Cali World Games. The win for Woestenborghs was his first world title since 2008 and marked his return to the World Championship podium for the first time in three years.
Early in the race, a large group formed together on the four-lap 10km run course. Martin and Antoine Duvivier (BEL) led the pack at the start of the third run lap, but it was Nicolas who made it on his bike with a slight advantage.
Despite such a sizable school of men running together, Woestenborghs was not one of them. However, he quickly made up a 30-second deficit on the first lap of the bike to lead the six-lap course. Spanish athletes Martin, Roger Roca Dalmau and Sergio Lorenzo Prieto answered his pace, as did France’s Nicolas and Benjamin Choquert. A host of other men rode with them, including Duvivier, Thomas Bruins (NED), Sergio Silva (POR) and Philip Wylie (GBR).
But all of that changed when the experienced Woestenborghs, Martin and Roca Dalmau broke away for a 50-second advantage midway through the cycling course. The trio worked together to increase that lead to a minute on the next lap.
Then a determined Woestenborghs decided to make a risky break at the end of the bike, leaving the pair of Spaniards in an attempt to return to the podium for the first time since 2010. With a minute advantage off the bike, the Belgian bulldozed for the podium through the 5km run.
The early move proved to be a smart decision for him, with the time gap too great for the field to overtake on the final two-lap run circuit. Woestenborghs reclaimed his spot at the top of the Duathlon empire in 1:43:39. With the gold, he now owns five World Championship medals, including a silver in long distance.
Behind him, cramps began to plague Roca Dalmau’s chances from medalling late in the bike, giving teammate Martin room to sprint by for a clear shot at silver, which he eventually claimed in 1:44:23. Nicolas, who had trailed Roca Dalmau by more than a minute at T2, capitalized on the Spaniard’s poor state to hammer home on the run for bronze in 1:45:46.
Competing in her first Duathlon World Championship race, Japan's Ai Ueda experienced great success as she pulled ahead on the run to win the women's title in one hour, 57 minutes and 59 seconds.
The Duathlon World Championships will take a different form this year, as the world’s best duathletes head to Cali, Colombia to race for the titles as a part of the 2013 Cali World Games.