By Merryn Sherwood on 09/04/13 at 3:03 am
The first ITU World Triathlon Series of the season is, obviously, a great pointer to the season ahead. However the results showed that perhaps the 2013 season could have been predicted from the final race of 2012, with Javier Gomez and Anne Haug topping the podium again in Auckland. Here we recap the important moments from the series opener, and what to look out for next.
Haug and Gomez complete an ITU hat trick
They both claimed the race wins in the 2012 World Triathlon Grand Final in Auckland last year, and then went on to record victory in the opening World Cup in Mooloolaba. Clearly they started the race as the favourites, and while they both left decisive moves down to the final kilometres, they both won comfortably again. As the 2013 ITU World Triathlon season gets underway, Haug and Gomez definitely have the early running on the 2013 ITU World Championship titles.
Javier Gomez’s ITU win record
Let’s just recap what Gomez has managed to accomplish in the last 14 or so months. In 2012, he didn’t finish off an ITU podium and Auckland was his ninth consecutive one. It also means his the second most successful athlete when it comes to series wins, he has five behind Alistair Brownlee’s 12. But when you put that together with his 13 ITU World Cup wins, it means Gomez is now is now the most successful male athlete in ITU history. He moves past Australia’s Brad Beven, who claimed 17 ITU World Cup titles.
Mario Mola and Joao Silva breakthrough
Gomez has often mentioned Mola as one to watch over the past few years, but he was yet to show that podium performance on a major stage. After two close finishes in 2012, fourth in the 2012 ITU Mooloolaba World Cup and 2012 ITU World Triathon Madrid, he finally came through in Auckland. It showed a move to America to train with Joel Filliol’s squad has paid dividends. As for Silva, he is already a two-time series champion – but he hadn’t translated that anywhere outside of Yokohama. He said after Saturday’s race he was happy to conquer the ‘unfinished business,’ in Auckland after his Grand Final race the year before. Next up, San Diego, where he said he had more unfinished business. Although he remained refreshingly unambitious when pressed for goals post-race. “I don’t know, we’ll see what happens, I’m not too obsessed with the results, I just like triathlon and enjoying the sport,” he said.
The return of Felicity Abram
It’s a script that played out last year, an Australian woman who spent several seasons struggling suddenly comes back on top. In 2012, Erin Densham’s story ended with an Olympic medal. In Auckland it was Abram’s turn. Fresh from a victory in the 2013 Oceania Championships in Wellington, where she beat Kate McIlroy, Abram put together a strong all around performance to claim bronze. Outside of Wellington, it was her first major podium since 2008. All signs point to a reinvented Abram. “I knew from the last Auckland race that I definitely wanted to podium on the next one, and I guess I achieved it so I’m actually pretty happy,” she said.
New Personal Bests
The year after an Olympics usually marks a changing of the guard and if the top-10 in Auckland was anything to go by, this year will be no exception. In the men’s race, Great Britain’s Matthew Sharp finished fifth. However his excellent run wasn’t a surprise to those who took note of his split from last year’s Under23 men’s World Championship race on the same course (31:04), he was slower only than Gomez and Jonathan Brownlee over the same distance. The next three men also posted personal best WTS results, the 2013 U23 world champion Aaron Royle finished sixth, New Zealand’s Tony Dodds in seventh and Australia’s Ryan Bailie in eighth, just ahead of Olympic gold medallist Jan Frodeno. Another Australian, Cameron Good, took 10th place. The women’s race also had PBs, Nicky Samuels registered her series best result in fifth as did 2010 Youth Olympic Games silver medallist Yuka Sato with sixth, and Australia’s Charlotte McShane and Natalie Van Coevorden cracking the top 10 for the first time with ninth and 10th respectively.
Looking ahead to San Diego
Canada’s Kyle Jones had a torrid bike leg and started the run three minutes down on the leaders, but busted out the sixth fastest leg of the day at 30 minutes and 41 seconds, in an impressive dig. He’s certainly one to watch come San Diego. Others that had particularly tough days included Alexander Bryukhankov, who pulled out with a quad injury, Portugal’s Joao Pereira, Ireland’s Bryan Keane, Great Britain’s Jodie Stimpson and the USA’s Gwen Jorgensen. They will all be keen for a second chance in triathlon’s birthplace.
The 2013 ITU World Triathlon San Diego gets underway when the Elite Women race at 3.30pm on Friday April 19. The Elite Men’s race is on at 4pm on Saturday April 20. You can watch the entire races live on www.triathlon.org/tv.
Find more details about this event - 2013 ITU World Triathlon Auckland