By Erin Greene on 14/07/12 at 6:16 pm
Ashleigh Gentle, Charlotte McShane and Annamari Mazzetti thrived in a new race format during semifinal action at the Tiszaujvaros ITU Triathlon World Cup. Australians Gentle and McShane headed up the first semifinal, while Mazzetti of Italy took control of the second semi.
With the unique format, athletes participate in two days of sprint semifinal and final action. Going off in waves every 20 minutes, the top 12 in each heat qualified for finals Sunday. One additional athlete also advanced, rounding to 25 athletes in the finals.
“It’s really cool, it’s something different,” Gentle said of the format. “I’ve obviously never done it before because it’s the first time in Tizzy to see it. I think it’s something we could definitely implement into other races on the World Cup circuit.”
In the first semifinal, Hungary’s own Margit Vanek led out of the three-lap 750m swim. She followed closely by a pack of nearly 15 athletes spread over 17 seconds. McShane and Gentle trailed at the bottom of the first pack on the swim, but quickly caught up on the bike. On the first lap of two laps, a lead pack of 21 athletes formed, riding together throughout the flat 20km course.
While also a flat course, the quick, three-lap 5km run provided the grounds to break away. Rebecca Robisch (GER) wasted no time jolting to the front on the first lap. Her lead was short-lived, as Gentle and McShane worked together to close in on Robisch early in the second lap.
The Australians ran together for the remainder of the race, finishing with the exact same time of 1 hour, 59 seconds. Gentle will wear No. 1 tomorrow in final action, while McShane will display No. 8.
“I was happy to be up there on the swim, then just to cruise on the bike and just make sure I was in the top 12 in the run,” Gentle said.
In the second semifinal, Alexandra Razarenova (RUS) put in a stellar swim leg to set the scene for a breakaway. Exiting nine seconds back, teammate Liubov Ivanovskaya scrambled through transition alongside Monika Orazem (SLO) and London-bound Mazzetti (ITA) to chase Razarenova down on the bike.
The three were successful, catching the stellar swimmer and gaining an impressive lead of 40 seconds after the first leg of the bike. At the end of the 20km, the four added another minute to their time advantage.
With nearly two minutes on the field, Mazzetti and the Russians dropped Orazem, maintaining a steady distance over the chase pack. The three ran together until the final lap when Mazzetti kicked to the front to win the second heat in 1 hour, 1 minute and 16 seconds.
“I’m happy about this race because I was fourth out of the water,” Mazzetti said. “It was a good swim for me. Then we decided to work well together, so we could just relax. It was fun, but I think tomorrow will be very, very hard.”
There were three Russians in the top five with Razarenova, Ivanovskaya and Arina Shulgina finishing second, third and fourth respectively.
Zsofia Kovacs was the top Hungarian on the day finishing in fifth in this semifinal. The home team will have three women in the final with Kovacs, Vanek and Eszter Dudas.
Finals get underway Sunday 15 July at 3:30pm local time. Follow live on triathlon.org/live
Find more details about this event - 2012 Tiszaujvaros ITU Triathlon World Cup