With a gutsy breakaway on the bike, Great Britain’s Stuart Hayes stunned the field and stole the win at today’s Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Kitzbühel. The Brit was part of a five-man break on the bike, which was able to build a lead of over 1:40 at the second transition.
“The only way I can win these races is to get away on the bike, otherwise there’s no chance for me,” Hayes said afterward. “Either I get away and it works or I end up near last place because I gave everything I had trying to get away. That’s the way I like to race.”
Spain’s Javier Gomez, who won the last two rounds of the Series in Hamburg and London, wasn’t part of the five-man break, but the fleet-footed Spaniard was able to run his way up to second, despite having to serve 15-second penalty. Gomez, who finished 32 seconds back of Hayes, was penalized for not stowing his helmet properly in the second transition.
“I don’t know that anything would’ve changed if I didn’t have the penalty,” Gomez said. “I don’t think I would’ve been able to catch Stuart today. He had a great race and I’m very happy for him.”
Sixty-five men dove into the Schwarzsee Lake to kick off round six of the Series, and as is becoming routine, Russian super-swimmer Dmitry Polyansky stroked to the front from the start and began to string the group out. The Russian exited the first of two 750-metre loops in just under nine minutes, with a big group only seconds behind. Staying with Polyansky was his countryman Alexander Brukhankov, as well as Frederic Belaubre (FRA) and Maik Petzold (GER). The lead swim group tried to pull away from the rest of the men on lap two, but they were unable to do so as Polyansky led a long string of men into the first transition.
Onto the six-lap, 43.8K bike course, a lead group of 47 men emerged, with most all of the main contenders safely tucked away in the big group. The five-man break got away at the start of lap four, and quickly began to build a huge gap. In the break were Matt Chrabot (USA), Greg Bennett (USA), Christian Prochnow (GER), Hayes and Petzold.
“I’m trying to change the mentality of the pack,” Hayes said. “A lot of guys just like to sit and wait for the run, but I’m trying to change that by biking as hard as I can. Hopefully that will make the bike more of a factor in the future.”
With 15K left to ride, the lead bunch of five had extended their advantage to just under a minute, as the five men worked well together, sharing the lead every 20 seconds to maximize their gap. The group’s excellent teamwork paid huge dividends, as the gap swelled to 1:43 by the time the leaders hit the second transition.
“I knew a group would breakaway today,” Gomez said. “I tried to be part of a break early on, but it didn’t work out. That was too much time to give guys like Stuart—he’s too strong of a runner.”
Hayes immediately pulled away out of transition, building a gap of 20 seconds on the rest of the lead bunch by the time he wrapped up the first of four run laps. Chrabot and Petzold ran in second and third, respectively, but were losing big chunks of time to the likes of Gomez, reigning world champ Alistair Brownlee (GBR) and current world number one Jan Frodeno (GER), as the run neared the halfway mark.
As Hayes headed into the final lap, it was clear that the gap was too big to close, and the Brit had plenty of time to slow down and enjoy his first-ever Series win. Hayes stopped the clock in 1:52:32, marking the second year in a row that a Brit has won in Kitzbühel (Brownlee was victorious in Austria last year).
Gomez secured his third consecutive podium finish with his runner-up showing, with Frodeno finishing third, another 17 seconds back of Gomez. With his third-place finish, Frodeno remains the leader of the world rankings heading into the Series Grand Final in Budapest next month.
“It was a very tough race today, Frodeno said. “It was an honest bike course and that made the run especially tough. I take my hat off to Stuart—that was a great performance. I always enjoy seeing guys win with a breakaway on the bike like that.”
Rounding out the top five were Chrabot, who posted his best Series finish ever (4th) and Petzold (5th).
If you missed today’s race, log on to triathlon.org/tv to catch the full two-hour replay, available now to premium members.
The women’s race in Kitzbühel kicks off at 2pm local time on Sunday. Click here to find out what time that is for you.