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Australian Brad Kahlefeldt got his 2011 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series season back on track in the best possible style, claiming his first ever series win with a thrilling sprint finish in Hamburg today.
Kahlefeldt just managed to hold off Great Britain’s William Clarke and France’s David Hauss, powering away from both in the final 20 metres in one of the most interesting series races so far this season.
Without series leader Alistair Brownlee in the field, there was plenty of cat and mouse games being played throughout the bike. Several pairs tried to breakaway, but in the end a huge group of about 50 athletes hit T2 together, setting up a wild showdown on the 10km run course. Just before halfway, a breakaway group of eight turned into six as Kahlefeldt, Clarke, Hauss, Javier Gomez, Joao Silva and Sebastian Rank started to build an unbeatable lead. Then with three kilometres to go, reigning Hamburg champion, Gomez, tried to turn on his signature burn. But it wasn’t effective this time as Kahlefeldt and Clarke stuck right to his heels. Then with one kilometre to go, Kahlefeldt, Hauss and Clarke pushed away and the other three couldn’t hang with them. The excitement continued to the final few steps, as until the last 20 metres it looked like Clarke had the win, before Kahlefeldt found that other gear he’s employed so successfully in the past to burst through the tape. It was a blistering run leg, with the top four all breaking the 30-minute barrier.
It marked a big step in Kahlefeldt’s season, after initially getting off to a great start to the 2011 season with a World Cup win in Mooloolaba, last year’s overall bronze medallist didn’t finish in Sydney and finished 51st in Madrid. But after a fifth place in Kitzbühel, and a period of sustained success in Hamburg - he wasn’t settling for a place off the top this time.
“This is my eighth or ninth time in Hamburg and a bunch of podiums and fourth, fifth six, and I was thinking I’ve been so close, I can’t lose this.” Kahlefeldt said. “I got my first podium here in 2003 with Andrew Johns and Bevan Docherty, so I just thought about that and thought I couldn’t lose here, I just thought with a kilometre to go I’ve got to push it.”
Kahlefeldt became just the seventh man to win a round of the Dextro Energy Triathlon Series since it was introduced in 2009. It was also the first podium, male or female, for Australia in 2011.
It was also a huge breakthrough day for Clarke – with his first Dextro Energy Triathlon Series podium. His previous best was the fourth place he claimed in Kitzbühel just last month, proving that the 2006 Under23 World Champion is really starting to make his mark on the elite field.
“I’m absolutely over the moon, I don’t know what to say, I’ve been dreaming about this for so long,” Clarke said. “I don’t think its really sunk in yet, I’ve been hoping about this moment for years and years and its finally happened.”
The result also changes the top of the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series leaderboard at the halfway mark. Gomez’s sixth place was enough for him to take over the lead from Alistair Brownlee – who didn’t race in Hamburg – but the podiums really paid off for Clarke and Hauss, who moved up to second and third respectively. Gomez now has 2026 points, just ahead of Clarke with 1935 and Hauss with 1905. Sven Riederer is in fourth overall and Alexander Brukhankov in fifth. Kahlefeldt moved up in ninth place with his win.
In other notable results, Chris McCormack was impressive in just his second ITU comeback race. McCormack led the second chase pack as it aimed to bridge an initial 24-second gap, and eventually did, and then after serving a 15-second penalty, finished in 26th place.
It proved to be another unlucky day for reigning Olympic champion Jan Frodeno, who hasn’t yet been able to win his home race. Frodeno was in the lead pack in the bike but had a mechanical problem in the last lap. Although that put him about two minutes behind the leaders though, Frodeno pushed through and worked the crowd up into a frenzy everytime he went through transition, with a big smile plastered across his face. He eventually finished in 43rd place.
Hamburg marks the halfway point of the 2011 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series, with London, Lausanne and the Beijing Grand Final to come.