Snowsill makes strong return to international circuit
Courtney Atkinson pushed Olympic gold medallist Germany’s Jan Frodeno all the way to go down by one second in today’s Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series race in Korea, with compatriot Brad Kahlefeldt finishing third.
In the women’s race, reigning world champion Emma Moffatt was pipped in a sprint finish for the second time in a row to claim bronze. And in what was a good day for Australia, three-time world champion Emma Snowsill made an impressive return to the international circuit after an 11-month lay-off, finishing sixth, just 10 seconds behind winner, Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf.
Atkinson’s effort was startling considering he had missed the season opener in Sydney last month having lost a considerable amount of weight over summer due to a debilitating virus. He bounced back brilliantly today in Seoul, shooting to the lead at the start of the 10km run to kick clear of a pack of more than 50 riders entering transition.
Frodeno bridged the gap at the halfway mark and the pair ran shoulder to shoulder for the remainder of the race, with the lanky German coming over the top of Atkinson in the final 20 metres. Kahlefeldt, 10th out of transition, raced solidly, mostly on his own, to collect his 21st ITU podium finish.
â€œI felt good on the bike and with the way transition was set up I knew the pack would have to spread out, so I really dug in for the first kilometre and that really set me up for the race because Jan was the only one that could tag onto me,â€ Atkinson said. â€œNo matter what I did, I just couldn’t quite shake the big fella â€“ I did everything in my power to win it and came up just short. But I’m really pleased; I could hardly get out of bed a month ago and by making a few smart decisions about what events to race, hopefully I’ve set myself up for a good season.â€
Kahlefeldt, too, was pleased to be back on the podium after a disappointing race in Sydney. â€œAtko and Jan really accelerated hard at the start of the run and I just missed going with them on that, so I settled into a rhythm when I found myself on my own and in the end was pretty happy to run my way into third. It was a pretty solid day for Australia all round, so we can’t be too disappointed.â€
The women’s race finished in equally spectacular fashion, with six of the world’s leading triathletes grouped together at the top of the straight, but it was Ryf who timed her run to perfection to claim her first major ITU victory ahead of last-start winner Chilean Barbara Riveros Diaz.
Earlier, with the water tempreture at just 14 degrees, Snowsill struggled in the opening 1500-metres swim, exiting more than a minute down on the leaders. She worked hard with a chase pack on the 40km bike leg to get back into contention and be among a lead group of 28 women as they headed into transition.
Moffatt unleashed what is fast becoming a signature burst at the start of the run and opened a significant lead which she held until the 8km mark where she was joined by Diaz and New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt.
â€œI should obviously be practicing my sprint finishes a bit more!â€ said Moffatt. â€œI was feeling good on the bike so I wanted to take the run out hard and see what I had rather than sit back in the pack like I did in Sydney. It was a bit tough racing out on my own and I even felt okay when the girls caught me, but I just didn’t quite have enough left over the final 300 metres. A couple of bronze medals to start isn’t too bad to start the series, so hopefully I can stay consistent and just mix up the colour of the medals a bit.â€
DEXTRO ENERGY TRIATHLON â€“ ITU WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
RACE 2: SEOUL, KOREA, SATURDAY, MAY 8
WOMEN: 1. Daniela Ryf (SUI) 2:01:00. 2. Barbara Riveros Diaz (CHI) 2:01:02. 3. Emma Moffatt (AUS) 2:01:04.
MEN: 1. Jan Frodeno (GER) 1:51:49. 2. Courtney Atkinson (AUS) 1:51:50. 3. Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS) 1:52:18.