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France’s Carole Peon overcame brutal conditions on a challenging course to seize her first ITU World Cup title in a thrilling finish in Guatape, Colombia today. Japan’s Tomoko Sakimoto closed out a strong performance to take silver while Spain’s Zurine Rodriguez recorded her second straight World Cup podium with bronze.
“It’s just amazing to (win) here in this altitude, it’s just so great,” said Peon. “It was a hard race and I am really really happy.”
Heavy overnight rains caused a landslide, blocking half the bike course which forced race officials to reduce the race to a sprint distance – 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run. The rain did not relent as the women stepped onto the start pontoon amidst miserably cold and wet conditions.
Brazil’s Pamela Nascimento Oliveira was first out of the water with Margit Vanek (HUN) and Line Jensen (DEN). Also not far behind were a host of contenders including Vicky Holland (GBR) and Mariko Adachi (JPN) and Juri Ide (JPN). Peon was also in that front pack from the swim and biked in the lead group made up of about 16 women including many of the pre-race favourites.
Once out onto the run course, Peon made a break early on with Adachi. But Adachi, the reigning Asian Games gold medallist, couldn’t hang on to Peon’s impressive pace and soon faded back. But it wasn’t long before another Japanese athlete, Sakimoto, challenged Peon for the lead
But Peon, who’s returning from injury, refused to back down and stayed in the lead for good. She cruised to the finish line to celebrate the first World Cup title of her career.
“There was no problem with my injury today and I was impressed with myself that I can run like this without too much run training,” said Peon.
Peon had previously finished runner-up twice in World Cup events, in Kitzbühel in 2008 and Cancun in 2007. She has also struggled with injury this year but had two fourth place finishes – in the season opening Dextro Energy Triathlon Series round in Sydney and in Tongyeong just last month.
Sakimoto held on for silver while Rodriguez secured the bronze in cold and wet conditions, at the first World Cup event in Colombia since 1992.
It was a season best result for Sakimoto, whose previous best was fifth in Sydney back in April. Sakimoto also claimed silver at this year’s Asian Championships. It was the second consecutive World Cup bronze medal for Rodriguez after she also finished third in Tongyeong last month, which was her first World Cup medal.
Vanek finishd in fourth place while Poland’s Agnieszka Jerzyk, the current U23 World Champion, rounded out the top five.
Full ITU points and Olympic qualification points were still awarded as per the force majeure rule in ITU Competition Rules.