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Japanese women continue to dominate the Huatulco ITU Triathlon World Cup. With 2-time defending champion Ai Ueda not back to try for a third straight title, her teammate Juri Ide kept the title in Japan by storming to her second career World Cup victory.
Following a solid swim, Ide rode safely in the lead group before burying the field on the 10km run to win by a comfortable margin, stopping the clock at 2 hours, 12 minutes and 52 seconds.
Italy’s Annamaria Mazzetti crossed the finish line 46 seconds after Ide for silver in the second straight World Cup this year after finishing runner-up in Tiszaujvaros in August. Spain’s Marina Damlaimcourt broke through for her first career trip to the World Cup podium, securing the bronze.
The day began with a 2-lap 1.5km swim in the warm waters in Santa Cruz Bay. After the opening 1km lap, American swimming powerhouse Sarah Haskins led the women as they ran back into water for the second 500m lap. But uncharacteristically, Haskins fell off the pace slightly and was 12th into the first transition.
Instead it was Bermuda’s Flory Duffy that led the women into T2. Not far behind were Claudia Rivas (MEX), Ide, Ainhoa Murua (ESP) and Aileen Morrison (IRL) as the women headed onto the tough 40km bike course.
With the challenging hill re-inserted back into the course this year, the women had their work cut out for them as they tackled the hill eight times.
A lead group of 14 women emerged and they worked well together to build their lead and extend it with every lap. Taking turns at the front of the lead pack were strong riders like Line Jensen (DEN), Duffy, Haskins, Morrison and Mateja Simic (SLO).
As if climbing the grueling hill eight times wasn’t tough enough, the scorching heat and rising temperature were sapping the athletes of much-needed energy.
As they came off the bike, the chase group was down by more than two minutes. Mazzetti was first out of T2, followed by Duffy, Damlaimcourt, Simic and Morrison. Ide exited T2 in 10th place but it didn’t take long for the Japanese star to surge to the front.
She made her move on the second lap and opened up lead of 23 seconds on Mazzetti and Damlaimcourt while Morrison, Duffy, Haskins and Simic all began to fall off the pace.
By the bell lap, Ide appeared to have the win locked up with a sizeable 39-second lead in hand, leaving Mazzetti and Damlaimcourt to battle for silver.
Finishing strong, Ide broke the tape to claim her second career World Cup title, sweet redemption after a difficult season in which she has battled a lower leg injury since last year.
Mazzetti ran clear of Damlaimcourt in the final lap to comfortably take silver.
Morrison finished up in fourth place while ITU Development athletes Simic and Duffy finished fifth and sixth respectively.
Claudia Rivas was the top Mexican on the day, finishing in 12th place.
In all, there were ten different nations represented in the top ten. Portugal’s Vanessa Fernandes got off to a slow start with a weak opening swim. That put her down by more than three minutes early in the bike. After riding solo for a few laps, she pulled the plug and withdrew from the race.