2019 Pan American Games
Luisa Baptista and Crisanto Grajales claim gold in triathlon at the 2019 Pan American Games
On the opening day of the 2019 Pan America Games in Lima, Peru, the top triathletes in the Americas took to the stage, to represent their country and compete. Triathlon was the second-medal event of the Games, with the marathon events being awarded the first medals.
The elite women’s triathlon event opened the schedule with 33 elite women lining to contest across the Olympic distance race format which consisted of a 1.5km open water swim (2-laps), 40-km bike course (6-laps) and finished with a 10-km run (4-km) which encircled the venue of Playa Agua Dulce.
Conditions were cool for the race start with the air temperature recorded at 15 degrees Celsius and water temperature was 15.1 degrees Celsius, ensuring a wetsuit swim for athletes.
Brazil’s Vittoria Lopes led out of the 1.5km ocean swim and into the first transition. Lopes had opened up a 1-minute gap on the rest of the field and rode out solo.
Race favourite and fellow Brazilian Luisa Baptista and USA’s Avery Evenson were the next women through transition and out onto the 40-kilometre bike course. A group of sixteen women followed as they flurried out of transition and set out for the bike stage of the race.
The course featured a challenging hill, which tested the field of athletes over 6-laps. By the second lap of the bike course, the gruelling climb had already separated the field of women as Lopes extended the gap by over 1-minute on the chase group which included Baptista, Chile’s Barbara Riveros and Mexico’s Claudia Rivas and Cecilia Perez. By the third lap this chasing cluster of elite women had closed the gap under 50-seconds behind Lopes.
The Brazilian triathlete continued to showcase her leg power as she pedalled across the course solo.
Riveros, Evenson, USA’s Sophie Chase, Rivas and fellow Mexican Jessica Romero were all in the mix of the second group.
By lap 5 USA’s Chase, who was one of the first women out of the swim, lost touch with the chase and pulled back slightly from the group.
The rest of the field were spread out across the course. The Pan American Games attracts a field of experienced triathletes as well as athletes from nations where triathlon is still developing, therefore their level of race experience differs significantly.
By the bell lap Lopes was still proving a force to be reckoned with as she maintained the impressive 50-seconds lead. Lopes produced a fast second transition and moved out onto the run course. On the charge behind was Baptista, Riveros, Rivas and Chase.
The third group of elite women into transition included another strong Brazilian, Beatriz Neres and Romero.
Lopes continued to stride across the run course to lead the race. This was her debut at the Pan American Games and the Brazilian was displaying powerful form.
The hunt for the medals between the elite women remained open and Baptista, Perez, Chase and Rivas. Baptista made a break in the final stage of the run, overtook Lopes to take control of the race. The pressure was on in the final kilometre as Perez maintained her running form in third place.
In a dramatic finish Luisa Baptista from Brazil, proved why she was the top-seeded female leading into the 2019 Pan American Games, ran her way to victory and received the gold medal for Brazil.
“It will be very emotional to wear the gold medal. It’s a success not only for me but for all the people around me. My family is here and it is very special. I was very confident in my run. I knew I could do it, it was an amazing race. I am very happy for this,” said race champion Baptista.
Vittoria Lopes, who produced a perfect race combination to lead most of the race, crossed the line and was awarded the silver medal, establishing two spots on the podium for Brazil.
“I was fascinated with the competition. I am so happy to represent Brazil with my friend Luisa (Baptista). This is my first Pan Am Games and I have a long way to go. I worked hard on the bicycle. I knew the competition would be tough.
“I ran my race. I did my race. I did my job and I did it myself, Lopes said.
An impressive performance by Mexicos’s Cecilia Perez earned the bronze medal, capping the elite women’s podium at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima.
“It is so exciting. I worked very hard to get this result. I talked with my coach a lot about getting a gold medal, but being on the podium is a good taste in my mouth. I wanted to start in the lead but I raced in the chasing group instead. The idea was to race smart because I knew there were good runners in the group.
“I knew that Baptista would give her all, but I tried to fight until the end,” said Perez.
Chase, who was strong all day, crossed the line in fourth place while defending Pan American Games champion Barbara Riveros, from Chile, claimed fifth position.
Results: Elite Women
1. Luisa Baptista BRABRA Flag 02:00:55
2. Vittoria Lopes BRABRA Flag 02:01:27
3. Cecilia Perez MEXMEX Flag 02:02:07
4. Sophie Chase USAUSA Flag 02:02:28
5. Barbara Riveros CHICHI Flag 02:02:42
Crisanto Grajales defends Pan American Games title with victory in Lima
Lima, Peru, set the scene as top athletes, of the Americas, lined up to contest in the 2019 Pan American Games.
The elite men’s triathlon featured 35 elite men set to battle for glory across the 1.5km open water swim (2-laps), 40-km bike course (6-laps) and closing with a 10-km run (4-km) around Playa Agua Dulce, Lima.
2015 Pan American Games champion Crisanto Grajales from Mexico was back to defend the prestigious title.
A strong group of elite men exited the water together and out into the open water for the second lap of the 1.5km swim.
USA’s William Huffman, Canada’s Charles Paquet, Chile’s Felipe Barraza and Diego Moya were the first of the men into transition and out on the bike course. A string of nearly 20 men were on their tails as they produced quick transitions to commence the bike portion of the race.
In the early stage of the bike leg the chase group latched onto the leaders and formed a group of 25 riders, each taking turns in the front seat.
The lead group had all the race contenders, including the Mexican trio Grajales, Irving Perez, Edson Gomez, Huffman, Messias and Kaue Willy from Brazil, Luciano Taccone from Argentina and Barraza.
Brian Moya and Carlos Javier Quinchara Forero from Columbia worked together to chase the leaders but didn’t have the speed or leg power to match the front group. The duo were a fair way back off the pace.
Willy tried to make a break and establish a lead on the group but the strong athletes quickly caught up with the Brazlian and the group remained unstuck.
It was evident that it was going to come down to a brutal running race, especially with the likes of Messias and Grajales positioned in the mix.
Taccone was the first to rack his bike, change shoes and start the run. Messias, Huffman, Grajales and Moya from Chile were hot on his heels.
Pacquet and Perez lost grip but only for a moment before the group formed again, just as they had on the bike.
The group run together across the course and it was only a question of time before one of the front runners would strike.
With one lap to go it was Messias and Grajales who attacked and there was a battle up front.
A medal was going to be awarded to a man in this chase group but it was up for taking at this stage.
With the finish line of the 2019 Pan American Games in sight and in a powerful chase for the gold medal, the athlete wearing number one in the field proved his worth. With an impressive surge to the finish, Crisanto Grajales won the run and held onto the Pan American Games title.
“This is my second Pan American win. I trained very hard for this race and I am very happy for my country.
“It represents all the work I did over the past years. This also means that I have to keep working to prepare for the Olympic test event in Tokyo and the Grand Final in Lausanne.
“We did an amazing job. Together with my team-mate Edson Gomez we felt confident about our tactics that worked very well. He needed to push on the bike portion to avoid breakaways, I had to take care of the running.
“Messias was my strongest rival here. I knew that the 5km, point of the running leg, was the turning point of the race. We were both suffering on the last lap, but the finish is always a matter of mental strength,” champion Grajales said.
Manoel Messias showcased an impressive race combination to sprint to the finish and earn the silver medal for Brazil.
“I didn’t expect this at all. Irving Perez is a fast runner and it was a surprise to me. But on the last lap we could not break away really from the group. I prepared a lot for this race and I trained a lot at altitude. It is important for triathlon in Brazil. We have a great day at triathlon.”
Luciano Taccone from Argentina bolted down the finish strait to be awarded with the bronze medal.
“I feel pure joy, it’s a dream come true. It was a goal that I had right from the start of the competition. I knew it would have been hard until the end, but I’ve prepared for this and luckily I have achieved it.”
Mexico’s Irving Perez produced an outstanding race display to cross the finish line in fourth place and William Huffman made it through in fifth position.
Results: Elite Men
1. Crisanto Grajales MEXMEX Flag 01:50:39
2. Manoel Messias BRABRA Flag 01:50:55
3. Luciano Taccone ARGARG Flag 01:51:03
4. Irving Perez MEXMEX Flag 01:51:06
5. William Huffman USAUSA Flag 01:51:09