Photo finish in Hamburg
One of the most spectacular triathlon in the short history of the sport took place today in Hamburg, Germany.
Although the air temperatures dipped to 17oC and rain threatened, the spirit of the 200,000 spectators that lined the course was anything but cool.
Jan Frodeno of Germany took an early lead in the 2 lap, 1500m swim with team-mate Andreas Raelert on his heels. Sander Berk from the Netherlands, Russian new-comer Valentin Meshcheryakov, New Zealand’s Kris Gemmell and Shane Reed, Brazil’s Paulo Miyashiro, Anton Storm of South Africa, Australia’s Courtney Atkinson, and Volodymyr Polikarpenko from the Ukraine were close behind.
As they approached the swim prime line, located before the start of the second lap, Paulo Miyashiro of Brazil moved up to Frodeno and the 2 dove into the water in a dead heat.
By the end of the swim Andreas Raelert had moved to the front, as the field sped through the swim to bike transition, then he teamed up with Kris Gemmell to make a small breakaway on the bike
The duo could not put enough time on the huge group behind and were swallowed up on the first lap.
Sylvain Dodet of France was the next to try to break off the front, taking a dozen athletes with him including Mathias Hecht of Switzerland, Gemmel, Raelert, Seth and Logan Wealing of the USA, Brad Krahlefeldt, Peter Robertson and Nick Horman of Australia, Cedric Fleureton of France and Christian Weimer of Germany.
By the end of the 2nd of 8 laps on the bike the leaders had a 40 second lead on the huge chase pack of over 40 athletes.
On the 3rd lap Axel Zeebroek of Belgium teamed up with Andrew Johns of Britain to organize the chase pack and by the start of 4th lap they caught the leaders. Heck took advantage of the moment that the group relaxed and again broke off the front, this time taking Russian team-mates Ivan Vassiliev and Valentin Meshcheryakov, plus Belgium team-mates Peter Croes and Axel Zeebbroek, and France’s Guillaume Dechavanne with him. Some good team-work by the lead group put them 25 seconds ahead by the end of the 5th lap.
Despite some good efforts by Huib Rost of the Netherlands and Australian team-mates Peter Robertson and Chris Hill, the chase group seemed unwilling to go after the leaders and by the start of the 7th lap they had increased their lead to 45 seconds.
The prime line at the end of lap 7 produced a spectacular sprint between Croes and Hecht, with Croes reaching the line first. Meanwhile Shane Reed and Andrew Johns had done their work at the front of the chase pack and had kept the leaders to their 45 seconds lead.
Johns and Rost broke from the chase pack on the final lap but were unable to make a difference on the gap to the leaders, and it was Russian team-mates Vassiliev and Meshcheryakov who sped through the bike to run transition 52 second clear of the chase group.
Peter Robertson appeared to be on one of his stellar come-from-behind wins as he surged from the chase group with Filip Ospaly and Brad Kahlefeldt on his shoulder. Robertson caught the leaders on the second lap with a group of eight just 8 seconds behind him.
The 2nd of 3 laps on the run was a seesaw battle with the lead exchanging several times between Robertson, Johns, Petzold and Kahlefelt with Reto Hug and Sven Reiderer of Switzerland, Nick Horman of Australia, Filip Ospaly of the Czech Republic and the reigning world champion, Bevan Docherty of New Zealand all challenging for the lead.
Peter Robertson fell off the pace at the 6km mark as Hornman moved to the front at the start of the bell lap with Brad Kahlefeldt, Reto Hug and Maik Petzold close behind.
With two kilometers to go Kahlefeldt, Petzold, Reiderer, Ospaly and Hug edged forward of the others as Gemmel and Reed move up to the leaders.
With less than a kilometer to go Ospaly, Hug, Kahlefeldt, Reiderer and Gemmel were running shoulder to shoulder towards the finish line. The tens of thousands in the stadium were now in frenzy as the most dramatic finish in triathlon history unfolded. In the end it took the competition jury to review television footage to decide that Ospaly had nipped Hug for first and Reiderer was ahead of Kahlefeldt for 3rd, as Maik Petzold held off Kris Gemmell to round off the top 5.
The excitement left in the air after the finish was something the sport has not seen before, as a cast of thousands at the podium ceremony cheered when the women winners of the previous day joined the men for the champagne celebration.
The win for Ospaly moved him from 23rd spot on the World Cup rankings, up to 8th, as Hug moved from 9th to 6th. Hunter Kemper of the USA continues to lead the World Cup with 217 points, while Tim Don of Britain is a mere 15 points behind.
World Cup action resumes next weekend in Tiszaujvaros, Hungary with the 9th annual time the series has touched down there. The event promises to challenge Hamburg in terms of spectator enthusiasm and dramatic triathlon racing.
Related Event: 2005 Hamburg ITU Triathlon World Cup
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