Mislawchuk and Pedersen win World Triathlon Cup gold
A debut World Triathlon Cup win for Alberte Kjær Pedersen lit up the Mexican coastline on Saturday evening as the Dane delivered a sizzling 5km run to take the tape in Huatulco. She managed to pull away from the main group out of transition and didn’t look back until the final straight, where a battle for second was raging between USA’s Kirsten Kasper and Austria’s Lisa Perterer, the American timing her final push to perfection to edge the silver.
“It was really nice racing here, it went really well,” said Pedersen. “My legs were feeling good and I was feeling comfortable and when I turned round I realised there was nobody close. I was injured for the start of the qualification period for Tokyo but who knows what might happen and I’ll keep my fingers crossed.”
The steam was rising off the streets of Huatulco as the women lined up on Saturday evening for the final World Triathlon action of the Olympic Qualification period, and while the rain was holding off, both humidity and temperatures were high.
Kasper led the athletes out for the beach start, looking for one final effort to impress the US Olympic selectors, followed by Perterer who was one of the first to qualify for Tokyo at the Test Event back in 2019.
The American had a great swim too, exiting through the waves out front alongside Anastasia Gorbunova (RUS), with Claudia Rivas (MEX) and Yuka Sato (JPN) close by, Pedersen some 20 seconds back with Niina Kishimoto (JPN) and Amelie Kretz (CAN). Kasper’s teammate Erika Ackerlund was also among the leaders as they headed into transition, and it was a large bike group that quickly merged over the first of the four 5km laps.
Pedersen was straight on the gas as she laid it all down in a bid to join with the leaders and a group of 20 snaked into transition at the end of the first lap, and by the halfway point there was 44 seconds between them and the chasers, including Romina Biagioli (ARG) and Yuliya Yelistratova (UKR).
By the end of the four laps, the gap was almost a minute, and while Perterer didn’t have the smoothest of transitions, she wasted no time getting back to the front, where Kasper, Kretz and Pedersen were already striding clear of the group.
Ecuador’s Elizabeth Bravo, Japan’s Niina Kishimoto and Ackerlund couldn’t quite match the pace of that lead quartet, and it wasn’t long before Pedersen started to ease through the gears once again.
There was little doubt who looked the most comfortable, and the Dane was able to extend her advantage over each of the descents back into the town centre, Perterer and Kasper eventually dropping Kretz and locking into a brilliant game of cat and mouse over the final two kilometres as Pedersen vanished from sight, taking the tape with a huge smile.
After looking like she had blown up, Kasper reeled in Perterer one last time and passed her on the chute for the silver, Bravo taking fourth from Kretz, Ackerlund, Gorbunova, Kishimoto, Renee Tomlin (USA) and Dominika Jamnicky (CAN) rounding out the top ten.
“I came here to win and I didn’t get that today but I am happy with second and my result overall, it’s good practice to race in the heat and hopefully it shows the selectors that I can perform in the heat,” said Kasper. “We’ve trained together (with Lisa) before so it felt like practice and she’s a great competitor and so I had a lot of fun with that. I really wanted second so I went for it and had a little more left in the tank than I thought!”
“It was a good test for Tokyo,” said Perterer. “I think I did well and felt comfortable. I hope I can get some running in over the next five weeks. I am really excited already. I was super surprised with my run. It didn’t feel as smooth as I wanted to feel but I was so happy to finish third, the sprint finish with Kirsten was great.”
Mislawchuk Magnificent once more in the heat of Huatulco
Tyler Mislawchuk arrived in Mexico looking like a man on a mission and left with it fully accomplished, a second successive World Triathlon Cup Huatulco gold to his name and a perfect stepping stone towards Tokyo 2020. After a puncture had put the skids on his return to action in Lisbon last month, nothing other than a podium would have satisfied Canada’s number one, and it was a composed display that secured the win.
It was to be silver and bronze for Brazil, with Manoel Messias second over the line followed by training partner Miguel Hidalgo, the youngster thrilled to pick up a first podium on the circuit.
“I’m over the moon,” said Mislawchuk. “I worked my socks off, Matt Sharpe and I wanted to control the race and rip a quick run. I’ve trained so hard over the last 18 months, we emptied our souls training in Hawaii and I’ve not been home in 14 months, living out of a suitcase. I dedicate my life to this and everything goes into this.”
The mercury was again pushing 30C in the air and the water temperature was likewise, the athletes taking to the beach start at 8am for the sprint-distance race and the last action of the Olympic Qualification period.
Igor Polyanskiy was fastest through the 750m swim, emerging on to the sand first with David Castro Fajardo of Spain and Brazil’s Miguel Hidalgo for company. Right there too was Mislawchuk and home favourite Crisanto Grajales, but it was the Canadian who attacked on the long route into transition to take up a position at the head of a group that he never relinquished.
In fact only 10 seconds separated the top 20 out of the swim and in no time at all the athletes came together in one huge pack of over forty riders navigating the course. Positioning became key, and pace was sacrificed for security with nobody really looking to roll the dice and force a break.
Sweden’s Gabriel Sandor was one of those determined to keep driving things forward, but it was Hungary’s Gabor Faldum who worked his way to the front as transition came into view or the last time, and he was rapidly into his running shoes and out shoulder to shoulder with Mislawchuk.
Kevin McDowell was going well too over the opening stages of the run, moving to the front with Mislawchuk, Faldum, Castro and the Brazilians Messias and Hidalgo working well, setting up a grandstand 5km finale.
It was the Canadian who put the hammer down first though, easing into rare air out front and managing to open up breathing space to the chasers behind. It was the Brazilians right with McDowell, the American knowing that a strong finish would put him to the front of the USA selection committee ahead of Wednesday’s Tokyo team announcement, while Mexico’s David Nunez was also going through the gears and eyeing home-podium glory.
Mislawchuk pulled yet further away, however, and took the tape with an assured 14.50 run, while the battle raged behind.
First Castro dropped off then McDowell, Nunez threatening to strike only to run out of course as Messias and Hidalgo took silver and bronze. It was still a strong fourth for the highest place Mexican, Castro edging fifth from McDowell, Crisanto Grajales, Faldum, Canada’s Jeremy Briand and Ecuador’s Juan Jose Andrade Figueroa rounding out the top 10.
“Me and Manoel (Messias) have been training together for the past three months so I am very happy to share the podium with him and Tyler as well, very strong athletes going to Tokyo and the fact I could manage to be third leaves me very happy," said a delighted Miguel Hidalgo.