By ITU Admin on 23/10/03 at 12:00 am
Release: 25 October 2003
Vouliagmeni, Greece: For immediate release. In an event branded as a “test”
of next August’s 2004 Athens Olympic Games Triathlon, the Sydney Olympic Games
silver medallist Michellie Jones had to out-sprint Britain’s Jodie Swallow for
the victory in the Athens 2003 Sport Event and ITU World Cup. Pilar Hidalgo of
Spain was 3rd. In the men’s event, Rasmus Henning of Denmark was declared the
winner in the closest sprint finish in triathlon’s history over France’s Cedric
Fleureton. Sven Reiderer of Swizterland was 3rd in the men.
Barb Lindquist of the USA led on the swim while a chase pack consisting of: Hidalgo, Jill Savege of Canada, Leanda Cave - the reigning World Champion, Joelle Franzmann of Germany, Belgium team-mates Mieke Suys and Kathleen Smet and Liz Blatchford of Australia formed behind her a few metres back. By the end of the 1 lap, 1500 metres swim Lindquist had a lead of about 18 seconds as she swept through transition onto the 5 lap, 40km bike ride.
Lindquist rode alone at the front through the first lap but the chase group, now 18 riders, cut her lead in half and finally caught her at the top of the 820m climb which has an 18% grade in parts.
The second chase pack, led by Elizabeth May of Luxembourg, Andrea Walko of Hungary and Renata Berkova of the Czech Republic also managed to bridge to the leaders on the second lap - creating a group of over 20 riders at the front.
This group stayed intact at the front of the race with the exception of Liz Blatchford who dropped out at the top of the big hill on the 3rd lap.
Barb Lindquist led into the bike to run transition followed by Pilar Hidalgo, Michelle Dillon and Michellie Jones.
“Agony Hill” took it’s toll on the legs and by the beginning of the 3 lap 10km run several competitors began to drop off the pace. This included the early leader, Barb Lindquist, who dropped back to 7th while Spaniard Pilar Hidalgo took an early lead after the first of 3 run laps. Jodie Swallow, Jill Savege and Michellie Jones were also going stride for stride with Hidalgo, with Leanda Cave and Michelle a few seconds back.
By the halfway point, Jones, Swallow and Hidalgo were running together at the front, with Savege dropping back about 14 seconds, and Cave and Dillon fading out of contention.
Going into the final lap Swallow and Jones had pulled ahead of Hidalgo and it took a sprint down the finish chute to sort things out, with the “Grand Dame of Triathlon”, Michelie Jones adding the Athens ITU World Cup to her record number of triathlon wins. Jodie Swallow captured her first-ever World Cup podium finish, with Pilar Hidalgo 3rd.
In the men’s event a strong field of 67 dove from pontoon into the azure blue water of Oceanida. Australia’s Craig Walton moved to the front with Volodomyr Polikarpenko of the Ukraine, Tsukasa Hirano of Japan and hometown favourite Vassilis Kromidas trying desperately not to let Walton escape onto the bike course and earn an insurmountable lead.
Walton exited the swim in 18:26, with Hirano, Polikarpenko and Joe Umphenour of the USA next out of the water about 18 seconds back, followed by Olivier Marceau of Switzerland Rasmus Henning of Denmark and Cedric Fleureton of France.
After the 1st lap on the bike, Walton’s lead increased to 31 seconds as a very serious chase pack consisting of Marceau, Fleureton, Henning, Axel Zeebroek of Belgium and Sven Riederer set off to reel him in.
By the 3rd lap, the group of Marceau, Fleureton, Henning, Zeebroek and Riederer caught Walton and created as well-oiled machine of six at the front. A huge chase pack rumbled alone behind, which included some of the great runners of the field like Ivan Rana, Hunter Kemper and Simon Whitfield, but had difficulty getting organised, resulting in several breakaway attempts, the most serious one being by Ivan Rana, Hecktor Llanos of Spain and Richard Stannard of Britain.
A perfect concert of exchanging the role at the front resulted in the leaders extending their lead through lap 4 and 5. By the end of the bike the sextet swept through the second transition 2:48 ahead of Stannard and Llanos, who had dropped Rana the last time up the big hill.
Shortly after the start of the run, Walton who has been suffering from a nagging foot injury pulled out, leaving Marceau, Fleureton, Henning, Zeebroek and Riederer with a lead that the chase group could not possibly overcome.
Hunter Kemper and Volodomyr Polikarpenko were the only ones who made any inroads into the lead, but their efforts were not enough. The leaders dropped Alex Zeebroek and Oliver Marceau on the first lap of the run as Rasmus Henning, Cedric Fleureton and Sven Riederer ran shoulder-to-shoulder at the front. There was no answer to the order of the podium until the last lap when Fleureton and Henning slowly pulled away from Riederer setting up for Triathlon greatest sprint finish between Rasmus Henning and Cedric Fleureton. It took technical officials 10 minutes to review the finishline video, results and photo finishes to determine the eventual winner - Rasmus Henning by 3/100th of a second.
A feeling of satisfaction settled over Vouliagmeni as ITU officials, officers of the Athens Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and Competition Manager Gergely Markus and his team began to reflect on the success of the Athens Sport Event and ITU World Cup and to finalise plans for next summers Athens Olympic Games Triathlon.
Find more details about this event - 2003 Athens ITU Triathlon World Cup