ITU World Cup new Plymouth - Murray & Donner take wins
The Quality Hotel Plymouth International ITU World Cup new Plymouth did not go the way of the local Kiwi athletes but nonetheless was a huge success with some amazing racing playing out in front of big crowds that lined the Ngamotu Beach course with Kaitlin Donner (USA) and Richard Murray (SAF) winning gold medals.
Photo Scottie T
The women’s race came down to a sprint finish with Donner (USA) holding off her fast finishing compatriot Renee Tomlin, with pre-race favourite Vendula Frintova (CZE) winning bronze. Sophie Corbidge was the best of the Kiwis in 13th place.
“It was a great race. We had tough conditions this morning when we came out here and the swim was rough, but you can’t complain with the U.S. going one and two on the podium,” said Donner.
Earlier Carolina Routier (ESP) and Tamara Gorman (USA) led the field out of the sprint distance 750m swim. Then heading into a hectic and busy first transition, on the bike the first lead pack formed with Routier, Margit Vanek (HUN) and Yuko Takhashi (JPN) starting out as the driving force in the front group over the technical five-lap bike course.
Tamara Garrido Gomez (ESP) who was able to pick up her first career World Cup title last week in Mooloolaba, unfortunately fell in the first lap of the bike and was forced to exit the race.
A pack of about 17 held strong through the bike portion with Donner, Emmie Charayon (FRA), Frintova (CZE) and Corbidge (NZL) leading the charge. With the chase group holding onto a 14-second deficit, the frontrunners carried a performance together all the way through the second transition and leaving the separation of fate to the last three running laps.
As they hit the pavement onto the three-lap run course, Donner laid down the pace and stayed consistent throughout the 5k. Despite Tomlin’s effort to gain some last-lap momentum and close the gap between her and Donner, it was Donner who was able to cross the line first and claim the top podium position.
Donner said, “In the last lap I really had no idea where Renee was, really I was just building into the run like I did in Abu Dhabi so I was just trying to run my race and it worked out for me today.”
Tomlin crossed the line for silver today after smashing the run course, making huge inroads into the leaders throughout, finishing in a time of 1:01:18.
“I am looking forward to a 10-K where I have a little bit more room, but it was my first podium finish in a World Cup so I am really happy with it,” said Tomlin.
Frintova claimed the last podium position after she was unable to match the speed in the final 100m from the Americans.
The men’s race proved to be an exhibition of class from top seed Richard Murray (SAF), the world number 5 simply dominated his opposition and won despite incurring a 10 second penalty for a transgression in transition.
“That was great, I loved it here, the crowd was amazing and yeah, I knew I had a penalty, I was just too quick through transition and forgot about my helmet and I was hoping – ‘maybe they didn’t notice’ – but of course they did and I saw my name on the penalty board.
“I thought about taking the penalty of the first lap but I wanted to get some rhythm so I built a good lead and then had enough to the finish line. This has been great, what a great place, the training and now the racing, it just continues a good start to the season for me.”
Exiting the water on the back end of a big lead group, Murray had work to do early on the bike but in a large field was able to join what turned into a large and fast moving lead train, with Phillip Graves (Great Britain) constantly on the front as the Brit looks to show he can do a job on the bike for the British team if required.
Ryan Sissons (NZL) had endured a torrid swim, being kicked in the face, losing his goggles and vital time, emerging from the water in the third chase group and with time being lost on every lap, the Kiwi decided that discretion was called for with the Auckland World Series race coming up in 7 days.
Sam Osborne (NZL) was in the lead group and matching it with some of the world’s best as the pace continued at a crazy clip, with riders slowly but surely being dropped with each lap ridden.
Murray was the first to make a move on the run, knowing by now that he had a 10 second penalty to serve the South African showed his customary speed over the opening kilometre to immediately gap the field and set about building a buffer to ensure the penalty would not prove costly to his gold medal hopes.
Big Russian Alexander Bryukhankov powered to the front of the chase group as slowly more athletes fell ofr the pace, eventually leaving just Kristian Blummenfelt (Norway alongside battling for the minor medals.
Murray meanwhile served his penalty and still had time to high five it down the finish chute in front of the large crowds and skip over the line to back up his third place in the opening WTS race in Abu Dhabi a fortnight ago.
The podium for Bryukhankov was a first in two years in a return to form while it was a massive career best for Blummenfelt, surpassing his 18th place finish in Mooloolaba last week and giving Norwegian Triathlon a huge boost as they try and quality for Rio 2016.
Best of the Kiwis was a gutsy Sam Osborne in 33rd place while Robert Huisman battled on debut at this level to come home 68th.
The event was made possible with the support of Quality Hotel Plymouth International, Venture Taranaki, TSB Community Trust and Port Taranaki.
Quality Hotel Plymouth International ITU World Cup Triathlon
Sprint Distance (750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run)
1 Kaitlin Donner, USA, 1:00:18
2 Renee Tomlin, USA, 1:00:20
3 Vendula Frintova, USA, 1:00:25
13 Sophie Corbidge, NZL, 1:01:12
TBC Rebecca Kingsford, NZL (full results not yet available, will be online later www.triathlon.org)
1 Richard Murray, SAF, 52:38
2 Alexander Bryukhankov, RUS, 52:59
3 Kristian Blummenfelt, NOR, 53:02
33 Sam Osborne, NZL, 54:31
68 Rob Huisman, NZL, 57:52