By Fergus Murray on 15/12/10 at 6:58 am
After five months of intense racing that began in April, it all came down to Budapest on September 11-12. The 2010 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Grand Final would be staged in the stunning Hungarian capital where the course navigated around legendary landmarks like the Parliament Building, Chain Bridge and the Danube River.
Olympic gold medallist Jan Frodeno came into Budapest ranked number one and had his sights on his first World Championship. But 2008 champion Javier Gomez was just behind him in striking distance. Along with Alistair Brownlee in the mix, the men’s race promised a world of excitement and drama. And it certainly lived up to its potential.
Those three men, who won four of the six Series events, headed out onto the run together, setting up a phenomenal fight to the finish line. But Frodeno struggled and quickly faded back. Brownlee, meanwhile, kept pushing the pace as Gomez fought to stay close.
As they hit the finishing stretch, Brownlee shifted into yet another gear to win his second straight Grand Final. But it wasn’t enough to defend his world title. Gomez, who took silver, was crowned World Champion for the second time in his career after finishing the year number one in the world.
“The second championship feels even better than the first,” Gomez said. “I had to fight so hard for it today. I would have loved to win today’s race as well, but winning the world title was the goal, so I couldn’t be happier.”
Germany’s Steffen Justus became the World Championship silver medallist and Brad Kahlefeldt of Australia took bronze. Clearly suffering on the run, Frodeno finished a disappointing 41st place and dropped to fourth in the overall rankings for the second straight year.
In the women’s field, the day belonged to Emma; both of them. Aussie Emma Snowsill dominated the run while teammate Emma Moffatt walked away with her second straight world title.
Out of Lágymányosi Bay along the banks of the Danube River, the women entered T1 and sped out onto the streets of downtown Budapest for the 40-kilometre bike. Reminiscent of the 2008 World Championships, American Sarah Haskins and Helen Jenkins of Great Britain led the charge and tried to force a breakaway. But it wasn’t successful with a chase pack pulled by along by Nicola Spirig and Lisa Norden.
Among the lead group of 40 women that entered T2 together was Snowsill, which was not good news for the other women given her running prowess.
As they began the 10-kilometer run, both Snowsill and Moffatt surged to the front but it wasn’t long until the 2008 Olympic gold medallist was running solo.
“When [Snowsill] took off I really wanted to go with her, but there was no way. She was going way too fast for me,” Moffatt later recalled.
No one was going to catch Snowsill on this day as the three-time World Champion decimated the run course and won by almost two minutes. Next across the finish line was teammate Moffatt, who clinched the 2010 ITU World Championship by finishing atop the Series standings.
“The second title definitely means more than the first,” said Moffatt. “I’m really happy about my finish and also really happy to see another Aussie get the win today.”
Third in the Grand Final and second in the rankings, Spirig became the World Championship silver medallist. Norden won bronze, her second straight elite World Championship medal.
After becoming the only woman to win two rounds of the Series, Canadian Paula Findlay continued to impress in Budapest, finishing the race—and the season—in fifth place.
Next year the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series will culminate in Beijing, at the same venue that Snowsill and Frodeno conquered to become Olympic champions. The Grand Final will be held on September 10-11, 2011.
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