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While the temperatures certainly heated up at the men’s race of the 2012 Banyoles ITU Triathlon World Cup, the competition didn’t get steamy until the final discipline. The race was a game of wait and see, as a pack of more than 50 men competed in one large group until the run.
It was worth the wait for young Lukas Verzbicas (USA), as the run proved to be a pivotal moment in the competition and his career. The 19-year old Junior World Champion made his debut on the elite international circuit with a tremendous final run lap to earn him his first World Cup title.
“It was great,” Verzbicas said. “It was my first world cup, as well as my first world cup victory.”
The day began predictably enough when the Polyanskiy brothers quickly moved to the front of the swim. Fernando Alarza, an up and coming athlete for Spain, joined the Russians as a leader out of the swim exit. Alarza hopped on his bike and slid ahead to lead a group of more than 30 men onto the first lap of the ride.
With a flat course lacking many opportunities for strong or technical riders to pull away, another 20 men joined the lead congregation by the end of the first lap. Only a small assembly of six riders remained trailing.
Vidal, who left the water in 24th place made his way to the front of the ride just in time for Russia´s Denis Vasiliev to break away to a 38-second lead. Meanwhile, Polyanskiy opted to fall to the middle of the pack where Verzbicas was nearby. For the final two laps, Vidal pulled the sizable field, while Verzbicas and Polyanskiy conserved energy.
After pushing through a congestive second transition, Verzbicas, Vidal, and Polyanskiy ran shoulder to shoulder, having quickly overtaken Vasiliev and the rest of the competitors. Together, they continued forging further ahead until the final lap when Vidal and Verzbicas dropped Polyanskiy.
Vidal had a slight edge over Verzbicas, but it didn´t last long. Verzbicas kicked into turbo speed with half a lap to go and left the Frenchman behind.
“Polyanskiy and Vidal started the run out well,” Verzbicas said. “Without planning it, I pushed forward and just kept pushing the whole way.”
Wearing number 43, Verzbicas surged over the finish line to his first world cup victory with a 17-second lead.
Vidal claimed second, while Polyanskiy crossed over 36 seconds after the top time of one hour, forty seven minutes and twenty eight seconds.
“I’m pretty happy, getting a podium is always good,” Vidal said. “Obviously, I would have liked to have won, but coming into the hard work ahead of the Olympics, I think it was pretty good.”