Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf pulled off the sprint of her life to win in the final stretch of the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Seoul in Korea this afternoon, topping world number one Barbara Riveros Diaz of Chile and reigning world champion Emma Moffatt of Australia. Moffatt looked to have the race won until the final two kilometres, when she was caught by the chase pack, making for a thrilling sprint finish with Ryf coming out on top. With her runner-up finish, Riveros Diaz remains in the lead of the 2010 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series rankings.
The race kicked off with a two-lap swim in the Han River, which runs right through the centre of Downtown Seoul. Athletes completed one 1,000-metre lap and one 500-metre lap in the 15-degree (C) water. As expected, former Auburn University swimmer Hayley Peirsol of the United States immediately moved to the front at the start, but she didn’t make a solo break away as she has done in the past. Going with Peirsol were countrywoman Sarah Haskins and Brit Kerry Lang. Peirsol exited the water first, with Haskins and Lang just a few seconds behind. The chase pack, which included Ryf, Riveros Diaz, Moffatt, and Andrea Hewitt (NZL) made their way out of the swim 40 seconds behind the leading trio.
Onto the bike, Haskins, Lang and Peirsol tried to hold off the chasers, but their lead had diminished to just 23 seconds after the first of eight laps on the bike. The lead group was swept up by the chasers on lap three, forming a lead bunch of 19 women. The new front group held a 45-second advantage over another pack of 12 women, but didn’t appear eager to stay away from the second pack. The two groups came together at the end of lap five, forming a lead group of almost 30 women, which rode the rest of the way in tight formation.
After a speedy transition, Moffatt charged to the front at the start of the run and immediately pulled away from the pack. Just one kilometre into the run, the reigning world champ had a 20-metre advantage on the field and looked to be running away with the win. Moffatt’s lead was 13 seconds after the second of four laps on the run, with Ryf, Riveros Diaz, Hewitt, Nicola Spirig (SUI), Mariko Adachi (JPN) and Emma Snowsill (AUS) giving chase.
“I felt really good at the start of the run,” Moffatt said. “But I definitely started to suffer on the final lap.”
The chasers cranked up the pace during the final lap of the run, with Riveros Diaz and Hewitt catching the leader with two kilometres left to run. The rest of the group remained a few metres back, and it looked as though today’s podium would be the same as round one of the Series in Sydney four weeks ago, which Riveros Diaz won. As the lead bunch made the final turn toward the finish, Ryf pulled up to the leading three women and unleashed a furious sprint that no one could match.
“I was really suffering toward the end,” Ryf said. “I’m so surprised I was able to pull it out. I just tried to focus on my technique to keep it together at the end.”
Ryf broke the tape in 2:00:59, with Riveros Diaz finishing second to grab her second podium finish of the 2010 Series. Moffatt rounded out today’s podium, finishing third for the second time this season.
“My goal is to be consistent this year, so I’m very happy with my result today,” Riveros Diaz said. “I just have to keep working hard and remember that it’s a year-long process.”
An on-demand replay of the entire event can be viewed here