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Brendan Sexton (AUS) ran away from the field late in the run to snatch his first career World Cup title in Monterrey, punctuating his impressive start to the 2011 season. Earlier this year, Australia’s rising star was second and fourth against tough fields in Mooloolaba and Sydney respectively.
Three-time European Champion Frederic Belaubre (FRA) took the silver, finishing nine seconds behind Sexton, for his World Cup medal since 2007. Hunter Kemper (USA) was third to claim back-to-back podiums after his victory at the Ishigaki World Cup three weeks ago.
For Sexton, the victory is a huge statement for his Olympic selection aspirations.
“The selectors know that I’ve got talent and that I’ve got the ambition to do well but they want to see athletes that could win races rather than do well so hopefully I’ve proved a point that when it comes to the crunch that I can actually cross the line first,” said Sexton at the finish area.
With a full field of 76 men, a big battle in the water was unavoidable as the men had to navigate a unique 1.5km canal swim course. A French trio that included Raphael Aurelien, Pierre Le Corre and Vincent Luis worked together well and got on the bikes first. There were, however, no significant gaps between athletes. A group of approximately 60 athletes came together in the big lead pack on the first lap of the 40km bike course.
A significant group of 66 athletes rolled into the second transition. It didn’t take long for the contenders vying for the podium were gradually narrowed down with a heat wave sapping the athletes’ energy. Sexton, Kemper, Belaubre, Luis, Matt Chrabot (USA), Ruedi Wild (SUI), Jarrod Shoemaker (USA) stayed together until the halfway point of the 10km run.
On the third lap of four, Sexton finally made his move and broke away, building a lead with Belaubre and Wild chasing after him.
In the final lap, Sexton was strong enough to enjoy the final stretch, taking in the cheers from local crowds. While Belaubre secured second place, Kemper caught Wild in the last 400m for the final spot on the podium.
“It’s a unique swim. It was definitely something I won’t want to do in a hurry again. I’m not good with a rough swim so I got knocked around a bit. It wasn’t too bad but I could have gotten a better start,” said Sexton.
The race is sure to serve as a big confidence booster for Sexton and the veterans Belaubre and Kemper as the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series shifts to Europe in four weeks.
“I’m happy. Today I know I am really back. I make three second (place) races this year,” said Belaubre, his seventh career World Cup medal. “Right now, I need to go to the first place. Next race is in Madrid. I’m so happy to be back on ITU Family to see everyone and to have all the support. It’s a great day for me today after two years.”
“It feels good. It was a hot day out here today and I was strong in all three disciplines,” said Kemper. “I had a pretty decent swim. The bike ride I was in front the whole time, just trying to be smart position-wise and it was good. And then in the run I was plugging away, leading the first 5k and I just got tired with the heat. I’m training in Colorado, not used it. The last couple of laps, it was survival.”
Ruedi Wild just missed the podium in fourth place while French youngster Vincent Luis rounded out the top five. Shoemaker finished sixth, Danyl Sapunov took seventh while Chrabot capped off a great day for the U.S. as the third American in the top-8 of the men’s race.
The next round of the 2011 ITU Triathlon World Cup series will be July 10 in Edmonton, Canada. The next Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series event will be in Madrid on June 4-5.