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It was a golden day for France as Etienne Diemunsch completed a French sweep in Guatape today, the first time since 1991 that France has swept gold at a World Cup. It was a career breakthrough for Diemunsch, claiming his first World Cup title after an impressive fourth place showing at the recent Under23 European Championships.
“It’s just the second World Cup of my career so I’m very happy to win today,” said Diemunsch at the finish area.
Mexico’s Crisanto Grajales pulled ahead of France’s Tony Moulai for the silver after Moulai was forced to serve a 15-second penalty on the last lap of run when it looked like he had the win wrapped up.
After the women battled cold conditions and a downpour of rain, almost 60 other men lined the pontoon just as the rain finally began to let up.
Heavy overnight rains caused a landslide, rendering half the bike course inaccessible. That forced race officials to reduce the race to a sprint distance – 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run.
Even with the shorter distance, the day did not start well for the eventual champion.
“I swam really bad because my wetsuit was open during the swim so I was very far from the lead pack and I had to work very hard during two laps (of the bike),” said Diemunsch.
Cuba’s Michel Gonzalez and Richard Varga (SVK) led the men out of the water and into T1 with Canada’s Brent McMahon close behind. The trio was first onto the testing 20km bike course but they were not alone as there was a long line of approximately 35 men behind them. Doing the bulk of the work up front were notably strong bikers such as Moulai, Matt Chrabot (USA), Andy Potts (USA), Leonardo Chacon (CRC), and Ivan Rana (ESP). Absent among them was McMahon who suffered a flat tyre and was forced to withdraw from the race.
That lead pack—which contained many of the pre-race favourites—rode together, perhaps playing it conservative on the slick course.
Rana was the first into T2, followed closely by Chrabot, Kris Gemmell, Diemunsch and Moulai as it was evident this was going to come down to a fast and furious battle on the 5km run course.
Diemunsch quickly surged to the lead but his French teammate Moulai kept within striking distance. Grajales also joined the two Frenchman as the three names to fill the podium came into focus.
In the late stages of the final lap, it appeared that Moulai had broken clear of his teammate but his road to victory snarled to a halt as he was forced to serve a 15-second penalty upon entering the town square where the finish line was located. The penalty was due to dismounting his bike past the dismount line when entering T2.
Moulai’s penalty opened the door for Diemunsch who seize the opportunity and sprinted home for the first ITU World Cup victory of his young career, stopping the clock at 57 minutes and 15 seconds.
“Tony would have won normally but he got a 15-second penalty and I’m so disappointed for him. But the French have done well at the end of the season,” said Diemunsch, who along with Carole Peon, will take home both golds back to France. Impressively for Diemunsch, the win came in just his second World Cup start though he has enjoyed success on the European Triathlon Union (ETU) tour.
Grajales came across the line seven seconds later to claim silver, the second World Cup podium of his career. Despite the penalty, Moulai was able to hang on for the bronze.