It was an event that provided a podium of firsts as Spaniard Uxio Abuin Ares captured back to back wins and the first gold medal at the inaugural 2016 Miyazaki ITU World Cup. While the other two podium spots were earned by Joao Silva (POR) and Gregory Billington (USA), backing up from a top ten finish in Tongyeong last weekend.
After surviving the masses during the swim and bike legs that saw 46 men enter the second transition together, Abuin executed on the run and timed his sprint on the blue carpet to perfection just edging out veteran Silva and Billington to end his 2016 with two World Cup titles.
“Today the race was very hard because double distance, last weekend was the weather was very hot and the race was very, very fast,” said Abuin.
“I felt very good, I had very good feelings on the first two laps then if feel a little bad, but I push 100 percent, push hard and I finally get the victory and very happy to win again.
“I’m improving and hope to be in the WTS next year,” he added.
The day started with the last medals and points on offer as the final race for the 2016 World Cup season.
Like the women, choppy waters for the two-laps of 750 metres welcomed the men. While the conditions were ready to test the field, it was William Huffington (USA) and Matthew Roberts (AUS) that best adapted holding a ten second lead exiting the water and long run into T1.
But the chasers were not far behind and after a short stint at the front of the bike Huffington and Roberts were joined by Maximiliam Schwetz (GER), Matthew Baker (AUS), Marcel Walkington (AUS), Jumpei Furuya (JPN), Ryousuke Maeda (JPN), Marco Van Der Stel (NED), Peter Denteneer (BEL) and Matthew Roberts (AUS).
Early race leader Huffington was forced out of the race in the early laps of the bike.
These eight worked well to keep the chasers at bay for 20km and etched out a small lead, but the inevitable happened, and they all came together at the end of lap four to form a group of 46.
Kjel De Hertog (BEL) and Koki Yamamoto (JPN) were the first to take up the lead position in the group and a brave breakaway on lap five by Russell White (IRL) and Takanori Sugihara (JPN) was eventually brought back to the group.
As the pack remained together at the end of the bike the second transition zone would become a gathering of all contenders at the same time and a frantic changeover to get out first.
However, it was Simon De Cuyper (BEL), Peter Denteneer (BEL), Yuichi Hosoda (JPN) and Igor Polyanskiy (RUS) who were able to avoid any trouble and executed a swift and quick exit to lead out onto the run.
But the chasers were not going to let them escape up the road and a group of 12 came together. They remained that way for the first few laps, happy to test each other out, and looking comfortable with the pace.
On lap three the tempo had upped and the group was reduced to seven, Eder Mejia Munoz (MEX) established himself at the front from, Silva, Polyanskiy, Abuin Ares, De Cuyper, Polyanskiy and Billington.
Polyanskiy was the first to fall off on the bell lap and the pace stepped up again - six remained to fight out for just three medals.
In the final stages the sprint came from a long way out and it was Abuin who was first to go, but Silva and Billington were not handing it over.
Onto the blue carpet and in a final surge, Abuin broke the tape first and claimed his second victory in two weeks. The wily Silva was good enough to edge out Billington to grab silver. After finishing 37th at the Rio Olympics, Billington was pleased to end the year with a podium finish.