Gianluca Pozzatti has race of his life to win gold in Miyazaki
The Elite athletes were met with wind-swept conditions as they arrived at Sun Beach Hitotsuba for the sprint-distance 2022 World Triathlon Cup Miyazaki. The course featured a 750m choppy ocean swim, flat 20km (4-lap) bike course with technical sections and a winding and fast 5-km (2-lap) run to finish the race. 60 Elite men lined up along the beach to contest in the battle for World Cup success in Miyazaki. It was a vision of whitewash as the stacked field rushed into the 750m ocean swim in Sun Beach, Miyazaki. There were two distinctive groups during the swim and athletes used the waves and chop to their advantage, all trying to set themselves in front up for a strong run to transition.
Australia’s Oscar Dart swiftly transitioned to take the front seat out onto the 20km course, which consisted of technical sections and turns. Japan’s Jumpei Furuya and Makoto Odakura looking to impress a home crowd, Portugal’s Ricardo Batista and Great Britain’s Jack Willis quickly established themselves into a lead group, which included 11 men.
Spain’s David Castro Fajardo, a medal prospect for today’s race, was forced to retire due to a mechanical on the bike.
The leading group of men continued to work together and put in time on the rest of the field. Ricardo Batista POR, Gianluca Pozzatti ITA, Alberto Gonzalez Garcia ESP and Alessio Crociani ITA were among the athletes pushing the pace on the bike.
As the men approached the next transition of the day, Japan’s Takumi Hojo was first out and onto the run course. Hojo looked incredible as he led the first lap of the 5km run but Italy’s Pozzatti had another surge left in him and powered to the front to overtake the Japanese athlete on the second lap. Batista, Gonzalez Garcia and Willis were running side by side. With Pozzatti looking like he had the gold medal for the day, the battle for silver and bronze was between three strong athletes. Over the final stretch of the run portion of the race, there was no looking back for Pozzatti as he sprinted down the finish chute to take the tape and secure the first-ever World Cup win in his career.
“Honestly I am still speechless, I don’t what to say. My top result in a World Cup was seventh so it’s a huge improvement. The last two hundred metres I didn’t want to look back because I knew he (Alberto Gonzalez Garcia) was coming and I know he is a strong runner. It was incredible, I want to thank all the people who stayed in my corner during the real lows and they trusted me more than I did myself so this is for you guys, I love them all.”
“In a sprint distance race, the strategy is to go all out from the beach start until the finish line. The swim was pretty messy but we managed to breakaway with a group of guys up front, we cooperated together and we ran off with 45-seconds so I knew there was a good group of athletes up front. It was nice to fight with the guys until the finish line and I am so happy to take the win.
“I love Japan, I have such good memories also because of the Olympics last year. It’s always nice to come here, even though it’s on the other side of the world, it’s totally worth it. I’m in the shape of my life. The podium was my goal but to be on the top is unbelievable, I am so happy,” said Pozzatti.
There was a lot of switching positions out on the run course and the sprint for medals was decided by Gonzalez Garcia claiming silver and Batista delighted with bronze. All three men secured their first World Cup medals.
“I am feeling great. It’s been a long journey to have this first podium. We’ve been in Asia, also for the Tongyeong World Cup, to be here is something amazing. A dream and sharing the podium with these guys is something amazing.
“I saw Ricardo behind me but it was the last race of the season so I had to give it everything, nothing left and finally I got it,” said Gonzalez Garcia
“I am still speechless about this result. I was expecting top 10 but came home with a podium place which is always very good. In a sprint-distance race, it’s always all out from the beginning, I tried to get out of the water in front and then on the bike we controlled the gap and worked really well. We reached T2 with a 45-second gap and then it was a battle for the podium,” Batista said.
Willis of Great Britain displayed an outstanding swim, bike and run set-up in Miyazaki but didn’t quite have the speed and settled for a fourth position today. Hojo crossed in the fifth position and was certainly a crowd favourite.
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