Whitfield, Hewitt take inaugural Kitzbuhel World Cup
Kitzbuhel, Austria is no stranger to fast and furious racing action. But instead of skiers speeding down the world renowned Hahnenkamm mountain, the town witnessed spectacular sprint finishes in both men’s and women’s races in today’s Kitzbuhel BG Triathlon World Cup.
A rainy and sombre morning welcomed the 60 elite women who were vying for the US$100,000 prize purse and valuable Olympics qualifying points at stake. Much of the pre-race hype surrounded Aussie Annabel Luxford who was in position to take over the number one ranking in the world with a fourth place finish in Kitzbuhel. Outside of Luxford, all eyes were on Canadian prodigy Kirsten Sweetland. The 18-year old already has a pair of podium finishes this year and came into the race ranked three in the world.
After diving into scenic Schwarzsee Lake to start the race, Andrea Hewitt grabbed the lead after the swim. But it was by a small margin and she had a host of challengers hot on her heels including Luxford, Sweetland and Joelle Franzmann. Out onto the highly technical 40-kilometer bike course, a lead group of nine women built a 36-second lead. But it was short-lived as the chase pack, anchored by the Swiss tandem of Nicola Spirig and Magali Di marco Messmer, caught up to the leaders on the sixth lap. For the rest of the bike, 28 women rode together and at times were within just five seconds of each other.
With almost 30 women heading out onto the final leg together, the race was going to be decided on the flat 10-kilometer run course. After the first lap, the contenders narrowed down to 11, with the usual suspects in the hunt; Luxford, Sweetland, Hewitt, Franzmann, Spirig, and newly crowned German champion Christiane Pilz. Many were expecting a showdown between Luxford and Sweetland but instead the Austrians were treated to a dual between local favourite Eva Dollinger and Hewitt. In the last 200 meters, Hewitt, last year’s BG International Triathlon rookie of the year, surged ahead and sprinted away to claim her first world cup win.
The Kiwi adds the inaugural Kitzbuhel world cup title to an already impressive career that includes the 2005 Under23 World Championship and a Commonwealth Games bronze medal. Dollinger thrilled the home crowds with a silver medal performance in her first career trip to the world cup podium. Nicky Samuels made it two Kiwis on the medal stand with a bronze, also her first world cup podium finish.
Pre-race favourite Luxford failed to finish after reportedly feeling weak and dizzy during the run. In stark contrast, Austrian heroine Kate Allen blistered the run course with the fastest time of the day to finish in 11th place after coming out of the water in 48th spot.
In the men’s field, the pre-race talk centered also centered on an Aussie and Canadian; four-time world cup winner Brad Kahlefeldt and 2000 Olympic champion Simon Whitfield. Though not usually known as a strong swimmer, Whitfield took the lead out of the water but was closely followed by a large group of men. The lead pack was tightly bunched together for most of the leg with nearly 50 men all within seconds of each other. And like the women’s race, this would be determined in the run.
As the men racked their bikes and set off to decide the race, the real contenders emerged. As expected, Whitfield and Kahlefeldt were in the thick of it, along with Olympic bronze medalist Sven Riederer of Switzerland. Frenchman Frederic Belaubre, who was competing in his first world cup of the year after missing much of the season due to a foot injury, was also in the hunt and eager to make a statement in the second half of the season.
Riederer relentlessly hung on as the group pushed the pace in the final lap. Both Whitfield and Kahlefeldt tried to break away but the others kept surging ahead with them. With about 300 meters to go, the veteran Whitfield began to pull away alone and powered through to win his second world cup title of the season. It was the ninth win of his illustrious career and moved him into a tie with Miles Stewart for third among all-time world cup winners. This was Whitfield first race since becoming a father in June and proudly held a picture of daughter when he accepted his gold medal.
In a gutsy effort Belaubre edged out Kahlefeldt for the silver, while Riederer finished just off the podium in fourth place.
Next stop for the 2007 BG Triathlon World Cup series is July 29 in Salford, England.
2007 Kitzbühel BG Triathlon World Cup – Elite Women Results
1. HEWITT, Andrea (NZL) 1:54:31
2. DOLLINGER, Eva (AUT) 1:54:34
3. SAMUELS, Nicky (NZL) 1:54:45
4. NIWATA, Kiyomi (JPN) 1:54:46
5. FRANZMANN, Joelle (GER) 1:54:53
6. SPIRIG, Nicola (SUI) 1:55:01
7. PILZ, Christiane (GER) 1:55:16
8. SWEETLAND, Kirsten (CAN) 1:55:27
9. PEON, Carole (FRA) 1:55:49
10. HARRISON, Jessica (FRA) 1:56:00
2007 Kitzbühel BG Triathlon World Cup – Elite Men Results
1. WHITFIELD, Simon (CAN) 1:42:56
2. BELAUBRE, Frederic (FRA) 1:42:57
3. KAHLEFELDT, Brad (AUS) 1:43:01
4. RIEDERER, Sven (SUI) 1:43:07
5. RAELERT, Andreas (GER) 1:43:27
6. CLARKE, William (GBR) 1:43:32
7. RANK, Sebastian (GER) 1:43:34
8. POLIKARPENKO, Volodymyr (UKR) 1:43:41
9. TURBAEVSKIY, Vladimir (RUS) 1:43:46
10. DE VILLIERS, Hendrik (RSA) 1:43:48
Related Event: 2007 Kitzbuehel BG Triathlon World Cup
|Results: Elite Men|