Fernandes and Atkinson Joyous in Japan

Fernandes and Atkinson Joyous in Japan

By ITU Admin on 18/04/07 at 12:00 am

Vanessa Fernandes of Portugal and Courtney Atkinson of Australia have won the 2007 Ishigaki BG Triathlon World Cup, in Ishigaki, Japan.  While Fernandes waited until the final run lap to make her decisive move, Atkinson sealed his victory in the opening minutes.

This is the first time I have done a good week of training, without injury, stated the 21-year-old Fernandes.  I can do the work that I want and I had a good result.

Fernandes, who fell just short of making triathlon history two weeks ago in Australia by winning her 13th consecutive world cup, was back to her winning ways with a finish time of 2 hour 4 minutes and 16 seconds.  In blustery, wet conditions, Fernandes was able to break away in the late stages of the run from a small group containing 3-time world champion Emma Snowsill of Australia and last years course winner, Debbie Tanner of New Zealand to claim gold in the second round of the 2007 BG Triathlon World Cup series.  Snowsill, who remains on top of the world cup rankings with her second place, crossed the finish line in 18 seconds back.  Tanner followed in third a further 17 seconds behind.

Seventy-two women hit the water for the opening 1,500 metre swim after a small delay due to a brief downpour, causing flooding of the transition area.  Fernandes and a small group of seven led by Sarah McLarty of the United States, managed to pull away from the rest of the field early on in the 2-lap swim.  The group contained many top contenders including Fernandes, Jill Savege of Canada, Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand and Annabel Luxford and Emma Moffat of Australia.  Both Snowsill and Tanner, among a few other top women, found themselves in an unusual position in the second group out of the water, almost one minute down. 

The swim was a washing machine, said the petite Snowsill.  It was a tough day.  I knew as soon as I got out there I wasnt 100%

Snowsill and Tanner spent most of the early stages of the bike course working hard with a small chase group of athletes to reel in the leaders on the fourth of six laps of the windy 40 kilometre bike course. 

All three podium finishers would come from this group as the trio of Fernandes, Snowsill and Tanner quickly came together and spent most of the 10 kilometres running shoulder to shoulder. 

On the run I tried to keep with Emma because last time she was strong and pulled away, said Fernandes.  I tried to stay with her and Debbie.  In the third lap I put in a little bit more and pulled away.

The significant hill, which athletes negotiated a total of 6 times, was the point where Fernandes decide to make her move.  The last time up the hill Fernandes powered away from the Aussie and Kiwi to take her 15th career world cup victory.

For me personally, it makes me want to go back and find that extra 1%, commented Snowsill of the ongoing battle between herself and Fernandes.  That means places these days.  You have to be on top of your game all the time and you have to find ways to find that extra little bit.

Snowsill and Tanner continued side by side until the closing 500 metres, when Snowsill managed to gap the Kiwi and run into second place. 

I know those two girls are exceptional runners, commented a visibly exhausted Tanner.  For me I was to dig deep and stay with them.  Vanessa pushed on the hill and made a bit of a break.  Emma made a break at me but I was able to get back.  In the last km, she pushed again harder and inched me out.

In the mens event, Atkinson, who deems this course lucky after loosing his wedding ring in the swim here two years ago, claimed the Ishigaki world cup title for the third year in a row, the fourth time since 2000.  Atkinsons time of 1 hour 53 minutes and 27 seconds managed to best second place Bevan Docherty of New Zealand, Olympic silver medalist, by 46 seconds.  A further 13 seconds back in third position was fellow another Kiwi, Kris Gemmell.

This place definitely holds a special something.  Its like a home away from home racing, commented Atkinson.  Im ecstatic.  I cant believe it

Atkinson managed to break away after the opening 1,500 metre swim with swim-bike specialists Craig Walton of Australia and Marko Albert of Estonia.  This was the strategic move of the race, enabling Atkinson to place an 80 second cushion between him self and the chase group by the end of the 40 kilometre bike.

I have to thank Craig Walton and Marko Albert because without them I wouldnt have had such an easy run, continued Atkinson.  This year I was able to enjoy it.  For two years I have won it with a sprint finish against the Americans.

Initially losing time in the early stage of the bike, the chase pack, which contained many of the sports top runners such as; Docherty, Gemmell, Simon Whitfield of Canada, Shane Reed of New Zealand and Jarrod Shoemaker of the United States, managed to pull themselves into striking distance of the podium over the final two laps.  This enabled a few of the athletes to reel in Walton and then Albert over the hilly run course.

Out on the bike those first few km are really the deciding factor, commented 2004 world champion Docherty.  I could see Courtney and the other two up there working quite well and I was trying to motivate the pack as I knew I was running well.  Courtney worked well today and deserves the win.

Out on the 10 kilometre, 3-lap bike course, however, Atkinson cruised to a decisive win and his fifth world cup title, fourth from Ishigaki. 

“I couldnt have dreamed of having a better run, stated Atkinson.  To be lucky enough to have a race work out three years in a row is just amazing. 

The battle came for the other two podium spots with Docherty breaking away from the chase group to run into second place with Gemmell not far behind in third.

Ive been trying to get a lot stronger in the second half of the run, said bronze medalist Gemmell.  I knew I would be better then most and I went out a little slower on the run.  I knew some of the other guys were going to blow up.

With the win Atkinson now sits at the top of the BG Triathlon World Cup rankings and takes home a large share of the Olympic qualifying points on the line and the US$100,000 prize money.

Courtney [Atkinson] has won here three times in a row and you dont do that by accident, added Gemmell.  I think they might rename this place Ishi-atko.

The next stop of the 2007 BG Triathlon World Cup series heads to Lisbon, Portugal in three weeks time on May 6th.


2007 Ishigaki BG Triathlon World Cup Elite Women results

FERNANDES, Vanessa (POR)              2:04:16
SNOWSILL, Emma (AUS)                  2:04:34
TANNER, Debbie (NZL)                      2:04:51
WARRINER, Samantha (NZL)              2:05:51
MOFFATT, Emma (AUS)                    2:06:01
SPIRIG, Nicola (SUI)                          2:06:05
HEWITT, Andrea (NZL)                      2:06:22
DENSHAM, Erin (AUS)                      2:06:46
LUXFORD, Annabel (AUS)                  2:06:51
HONGNI, Wang (CHN)                      2:06:55

2007 Ishigaki BG Triathlon World Cup Elite Men results

ATKINSON, Courtney (AUS)            1:53:27
DOCHERTY, Bevan (NZL)              1:54:13
GEMMELL, Kris (NZL)                  1:54:26
REED, Shane (NZL)                    1:54:31
COLUCCI, Reinaldo (BRA)            1:54:34
ALBERT, Marko (EST)                  1:54:40
WALTON, Craig (AUS)                  1:54:46
WHITFIELD, Simon (CAN)              1:55:09
MCMAHON, Brent (CAN)                1:55:18
SHOEMAKER, Jarrod (USA)            1:55:28


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