Outside of the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii Ironman Melbourne is arguably the hottest Iron distance field globally. In addition this is the first time in Australia that an Ironman triathlon is being held in a major metropolitan city and therefore will gain major TV, Print and Radio network exposure. We just hope that the coverage will be positive and will hold up the men and women racing as true sporting heroes therefore raising the profile of our sport like we used to have in the 1980s.
Due to injury one of the men that would have been short odds to take the title is out of the race. It would have been exciting to see Pete Jacobs racing in Melbourne and going head to head with Craig Alexander again. Whilst Ironman Melbourne is a hot field it can be argued that 4-10 of the worlds leading Ironmen would still be making sure that they are at 100% in October and Melbourne may be a little early in the year to gauge performance.
I have to say that there are just so many people to cover in the preview that it is impossible to do everyone justice so apologies if anyone feels slightly under represented. I am happy to update so please email us by clicking here with any extra information.
The Australian contingent will be racing hard to make sure that the first ever Ironman Melbourne title is not won by an overseas athlete. Heading the field has to be Craig Alexander closely followed by Luke Bell, Luke McKenzie, Aaron Farlow, Clayton Fettell, Courtney Ogden and Matty White. That is not to take anything away from Joe Gambles, Greg Bennett, David Dellow, Justin Granger, Paul Matthews, Josh Rix and Jason Shortis. Over a 70.3 you would be a fool not to take Greg Bennett seriously along with Paul Matthews and Joe Gambles. Gambles and Matthews could be the ones in this group to watch and David Dellow if he is on.
Craig Alexander did not have the best start to the year because of sponsor commitments and a fair bit of overseas travel in January. He has had a solid block since and as the consummate professional that he is will be in perfect shape for Sunday. Crowie is here to win and will be the one to beat on Sunday. It is not every day that many of the pros racing get to race the world champion and they will all want to perform well against him.
Luke Bell is a Melbourne local and knows the conditions better than anyone. Read Luke’s race preview by clicking here. As one of the world’s most prolific winners of half ironman and 70.3 races (19 firsts, and 14 seconds and thirds) he will be looking to perform well in front of the home crowd. With a 5th, 7th and 13th to his name at Kona Bell will be looking for that elusive Ironman win on Sunday. At the press conference today Bell acknowledged his ‘local’ status. â€œI live 2km down the road so I’m literally local! I can tell you how many steps from Frankston to St Kilda Sea Baths along the iconic Beach Road stretch with thousands of cyclists riding along the road each day,â€ said Luke Bell. â€œIt’s a city that loves a big event and the field has definitely lived up to the expectations. On a scale of events, it’s on an International level with the Grand Prix here last week, and ASP Surf Pro at Bells Beach coming up,â€ continued Bell.
Luke McKenzie is flying under the radar a bit. He shouldn’t be. “Yes, it’s a good feeling to fly under the radar, but to have the quality of field here in Melbourne, it’s exciting because there is no other field outside of Hawaii assembled like this. To have this race in our home country, it really is exciting to be lining up in this size event. I’m looking forward to giving these guys a good run,â€ said Luke McKenzie. McKenzie’s coach Siri Lindley is confident with where McKenzie is.
Aaron Farlow has come on in leaps and bounds since teaming up with Brett Sutton and Team BBB. Last year Farlow won Ironman UK got two more podiums in Ironman Wales and Challenge Henley on Thames. Farlow won Challenge Wanaka in January this year and will be well placed if everything goes to plan on Sunday.
Another to fly under the radar is Courtney Ogden. Ogden was unlucky at Ironman Australia last year when a couple of punctures put him out of the running. Otherwise he had a good race with a great run. In January this year Ogden was 4th at Challenge Wanaka with his bike holding him back. In October last year Courtney finished 16th at Kona with a solid run of 2:55.
Gambles in particular seemed very relaxed and confident when chatting to Trizone today. “After suffering through my Achilles issues and using some lifts in my shoes while getting them right I found that I was having some hamstring issues which I couldn’t get rid of. I was reluctant to get rid of the lifts because they had fixed my Achilles but in reality they were now causing me other issues. I threw them away four weeks ago and have been running freely since.” Gambles raced the Australian Long Course at Falls Creek in early February and knew exactly what he need to address before Melbourne.
Clayton Fettell will most likely be the one that all the other pros will be nervously watching. There is no doubt where he will be after theÂ swim and will follow with his equally strong bike. Will this mean that the leading pro males will make decisions and alter their race day plan depending on what Fettell throws at them or continue with their own race plans. At Abu Dhabi recently Fettell through caution to the wind and had a crack at winning from the front. This didn’t work out but he was not far off at the end.
Matty White will pressing for a big result this weekend. White has managed to get rid of all injuries and recently won the Victor Harbour triathlon after a 140km run week. “My injury woes are now gone and the signs are good heading in to Melbourne. After Melbourne I will be waiting for our first child to be born which is due late April so if all goes to plan I will be in Busso 70.3 and Cairns Ironman.”
Another Australian triathlon legend is Jason Shortis. The evergreen ironman great has completed well over 50 Iron distance triathlons and was 3rd at Ironman WA in December. In this race he ran himself in to 3rd after being slightly off the pace in the swim and bike. Shortis posted a 2:49:58 marathon. Being slightly off the pace in the swim and bike in this race will not be ideal. This is a Kona strong field and the swim / bike will set the race up.
The overseas athletes are here in big numbers and will want to take the title from the Australians. Eneko Llanos had a good result recently in Abu Dhabi and has been in Wollongong for the last three weeks completing his preparations for Melbourne. As one of the world’s leading Ironmen he will not be traveling this far without expecting a win.
Frederik Van Lierde will be one of the short odd favourites. He showed that he is in great form recently at the Abu Dhabi triathlon with a 5th place just 3:28 behind winner Rasmus Henning.
Kiwi and 10 time winner of Ironman New Zealand Cameron Brown is feeling good going in to the race. Speaking to Trizone yesterday Brown feels he is in Good shape for Sunday “With NZ Ironman 70.3Â three weeks ago I’m now fully recovered. If it was a Ironman it would be a different story! Hopefully that will put me in good shape for a hard race on Sunday as NZ 70.3 was fast! The field has a number of top guys mainly Craig Alexander. He will be the man to beat plus Eneko Llanos. With 10-15 strong Aussies there as well it will not be an easy day at all but I’m looking forward to it. Should be a fast day looking at the race course especially the bike.”
After a couple of 70.3 wins last year and a very good training block with coach Darren Smith in Canberra former World Duathlon champion Bart Aernouts is competing in his first Iron distance race. Aernouts is confident of a good performance. At the recent Wollongong triseries race Aernouts spoke to Trizone about Melbourne. “I feel I have done the work needed and am confident that I will be in the mix later in the race. There is the unknown element but I have raced many long distance races and I have am sure I will be fine.” One of Aernouts training mates, Lisa Norden was very bullish about his chances in Melbourne. “Bart will be one of the dark horses”.
Mitch Anderson had a mixed race at the recent Falls Creek Australian Long Course Championship. His bike and run were exceptional. He had a minor issue in the swim but regained himself and exited the water just a bit down on the field. The surprise of the day was his speed over the 20km run. It will be interesting to watch Mitch on Sunday. He could be right up there.
|Van Lierde, Frederik||Belgium|
Belgian Timothy Van Houten and American Lisa Roberts win Challenge Madrid
The first edition of Challenge Madrid was disputed today, with triathletes like Iván Alvarez, Gustavo Rodríguez, Dylan McNeirce y Sofie Goos, amongst others, as big favourites on the departure line. Lisa Roberts and Dolça Ollé, who made their debut in this distance, were also amongst the favourites. The competition started at 7.50AM in Buitrago de Lozoya with a 3.8 km swim in the Riosequillo dam.
First out of the water was New Zealander Dylan McNeirce, with a 5.42 minutes advance over Portuguese Jose Estraingeiro, who was followed by Zoltán Petsuk and David Castro. Mikel Elgezaban came out 10 minutes later and Alejandro Santamaria and Iván Alvaréz more than 11 minutes.
On the cycling leg, the triathletes faced 180 km throughout the Madrid Region on a demanding circuit with over 3000 meters positive incline and with New Zealander Mc Neirce heading the race. Another protagonist of this segment was Spaniard Mikel Elguezabal, who showed his strong point and started to take over at Rascafría, just like Timothy Van Houten, who would end up winning the competition.
Once in the town of El Escorial, Belgian Van Houten took the lead with a 42-second advance over Mikel and 1:50 over McNeirce; he reached T2, on Puente del Rey in Madrid Río, in first position. Dylan McNeirce finished second at 6:19. Gustavo Rodríguez also ran a good cycling leg and finished fifth at the second transition, followed by local Madrid triathletes Javier García, sixth, Alejandro Santamaría, seventh and Ramón Ejeda in ninth position.
In the 42 km run, Belgian Timothy Van Houten was able to keep his first position until the end, where he earned a moving victory in this first edition of Challenge Madrid with a final time of 8:33:23.
“It has been a spectacular competition, an amazing circuit with lots of people cheering who made you feel at home,” said Van Houten who appeared extremely emotional and did not hesitate a second to publicly address very touching words to his parents “I could not be here without them. Thank you for supporting and helping me; I am very happy to have earned this victory in Madrid, it is just as much yours.”
German Lukas Krämer (08:49:09) finished second. Alejandro Santamaría (8:56:21) was third and completed the men’s podium.
The performance of great New Zealander triathlete McNeirce was also notable, although he had to forfeit in the second round of the run segment due to back troubles “I enjoyed the race very much, and I felt very good. The atmosphere was spectacular. Unfortunately, I experienced back aches during the second lap of the run and I had to forfeit but… I will be back
Gabriela Zelinka finished the swim leg first, closely followed by Yvette Grice and Dolca Ollé in third position. Favourite Sofie Goos finished fourth at 20 seconds and Lisa Roberts at more than 7 minutes.
Once on the bike, Sofie Goos was the first to cross Rascaría with a 1-minute advance over Gabriela Zelinka and1:49 over Lisa Roberts who was third after a spectacular comeback. Dolça was fourth, a full 15 minutes after Goos. The situation remained the same until the very last part of the cycling leg, where Lisa Roberts took over her opponents and reached T2 with a 3:20 advance over Gabriela Zelinka and 4:34 over Sofie Goos. Dolça finished this second segment in fifth position.
In the 42 km run, American Lisa Roberts increased her advantage and arrived alone at the finish line to win the race in a total time of 09:32:51
Gabriela Zelinka finished second, followed by another big favourite, Sofie Goos, who took the third position.
“This is my first long distance triathlon”
Lisa Roberts, the winner of the women’s race, said “I am very happy to win here. There is a spectacular atmosphere and the whole circuit was really moving, especially this finish in the Puerta del Sol.”
Team “Las Perlas” won the relay race in a total time of 09:32:52
- Timothy Van Houten 08:33:23
- Lucas Krämer 08:49:09
- Alejandro Santamaría 08:56:21
- Lisa Roberts 09:32:51
- Gabriella Zelinka 09:51:42
- Sofie Goos 10:10:12
Danish Start-up Launches the World’s First Custom Fitted Swimming Goggles
New Danish technology has paved the way for the world’s first custom fitted swimming goggles, making the swimwear comfortable and 100 percent waterproof. The product is being crowdfunded on Kickstarter until October 31st.
Have you ever experienced water leakage or discomfort with your swimming google? Problems with swimming goggles are well known among professional swimmers, triathletes and fitness enthusiasts. But soon it will all belong to the past.
The Danish start-up THEMAGIC5 has developed a new groundbreaking technology that can 3D outline your face directly through your smartphone on THEMAGIC5’s app. Based on the 3D animation, your swimming goggles are custom fitted to perfectly match the shape of your face.
“It has been our ambition to develop the world’s best swimming goggles – completely custom fitted for you,” says Rasmus Barfred, Co-Founder of THEMAGIC5.
The product is on sale through a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter until October 31st. THEMAGIC5 is targeting to sell around 1,000 goggles and raise 50.000 USD in capital.
Several World Championship swimmers have already begun using their custom fitted THEMAGIC5-goggles. Most recently at the World Cup in Budapest in July.
“We have the ambition to be the leader in the market globally. We have launched a product and technology that the world has never seen before. Therefore, of course, we are extremely pleased that our goggles have been well received by World Championship swimmers,” says Rasmus Barfred.
“Since I started using THEMAGIC5s swimming goggle I have not felt the urge to adjust my swimming goggles all the time. When you swim as much as I do, the irritation you get from your swimming goggle seems a part of the game. I am happy that this problem has finally been fixed so I can focus my attention on the joy of swimming,” says Marina Heller Hansen, Part of the Danish national team and participant at the 2017 FINA World Championships.
CorSense HRV Monitor: Optimise Health and Fitness Without Wearables
Elite HRV, creators of the popular heart rate variability (HRV) app and platform, has launched the CorSense via a global Kickstarter campaign.
CorSense is an HRV sensor that slips onto any size fingertip. With CorSense, in just two minutes/day, users can optimize nutrition, training, recovery, sleep and stress without the use of chest strap monitors or 24/7 wearables. HRV is a unique biomarker used by hundreds of thousands of coaches, athletes, clinicians, wellness seekers, and researchers. It is a comprehensive “check-engine light” for the body and mind that is also non-invasive and responsive. HRV is linked to biological aging, athletic performance, and risk of numerous chronic illnesses.
CorSense is a highly-accurate, easier, comfier, non-wearable alternative to chest-strap heart monitors, patches, ear-clips, fitness bands, and adhesives. Utilizing advanced sensor technology, CorSense slips onto a fingertip and automatically activates, senses the pulse waveform, syncs via Bluetooth, and transmits HRV data to any compatible HRV app.
“The number one request from our 130,000-plus users has been to make HRV tracking simpler and more comfortable without compromising accuracy. Based on this feedback, we designed CorSense from the ground up to precisely track HRV with no user intervention apart from slipping it onto their finger. CorSense does the rest.”
With CorSense and HRV, enhanced health, fitness and wellbeing takes just 2 minutes/day.
Jared Simons: Chef Turns Plants into Ironman Power
Jared Simons is the plant-based chef with a love of Ironman. Trizone caught up with the American athlete to chat about everything from food to weight gain and the alpha types who love 70.3.
One sport ends, another door opens
“I was a wrestler, I didn’t grow up doing swim, bike, and run,” Simons told Trizone. He had a talent for his sport, but his body wasn’t so sure it was for him. “I was getting recruitment letters for college, but into my senior season I was having nerve issues with my neck.”
“My parents had taken me to see so many different doctors and they all said I had traumatic neck damage,” said Simons. After years enjoying playing American football when he was young, plus his chosen sport of wrestling, Jared Simons’ neck was giving out. “The doctors told me I shouldn’t be playing contact sports, so my parents pulled me out of wrestling,” said Simons.
College dreams replaced by cooking school
With his future college pursuit off the table, Simons turned to the other aspects of his life. “I’d been working as a dishwasher at a restaurant, and since I was quite a heavy kid, I enjoyed being around food,” Simons said. “My dream of going to college and wrestling was over, and I was so intrigued by everything that surrounded me at the restaurant.”
Simons was convinced of his new path, but his parents weren’t yet onboard. “Being a chef definitely wasn’t glamorous at the time. The Food Network had only just launched and they were all famous chefs!” laughed Simons. “I told my parents I’d applied to college, but I had only contacted a culinary school in San Francisco. It was tough to convince them, but finally, I did and I went off to the California Culinary Academy.”
Over the next four years, Simons worked exceptionally hard at culinary school and then in restaurants, but like many chefs, the long hours and stress took their toll. “I opened a restaurant when I was 22, then another when I was 26, so I was super busy. My extracurricular activities were very limited,” Simons told Trizone. “I was working a lot, eating poorly and drinking a lot socially. As the years went on I started ballooning up. When I was around 29, I was just over 205 pounds and I felt horrible.”
Fast-paced and stressful, the culinary business had been both wonderful and taxing for Simons, but a friend came to his rescue. “I had a customer who was gorgeous and she was my ‘trainer’ but we really just walked and talked!” laughed Simons. “One of my friends opened a gym and offered to train me and I took the leap.”
“He asked me what my goals were, and I said I wanted to look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club.”
In exchange for training the young chef, Simons gave his friend credit at the restaurant. “I got one hour of weight training with him, and I did one hour of cardio by myself every day,” said Simons. Summoning the fierce work ethic that had helped Simons reap the success of his cooking talents, Jared Simons was on his way to becoming an extremely driven athlete.
“In 2015 I jumped onto Vice’s food portal, Munchies, and I saw an episode titled the “Vegan Ironman”. It featured John Joseph from the New York hardcore band, The Cro-mags ,” said Simons. “I was intrigued by the endurance aspect and his diet and when I got home I told my wife I wanted to do a triathlon. I’d grown up surfing but if you took that board away, I hadn’t done structured swimming since high school,” Simons told Trizone.
Even while training prior to triathlon, Simons wasn’t healthy. “I was doing high-intensity training 70% of the week. I’d eat fairly clean, but every Saturday night I’d have junk food and I had high cholesterol. On the outside, I looked good, but on the inside, I wasn’t healthy.”
Living in the city of countless diets and health fads, Los Angeles, Simons had heard of plant-based diets, but he never thought he’d make it a long-term change. “I cut out one kind of animal product each week and by week six I was eating completely plant-based,” remembers Simons.
The hardest part of going plant-based for the chef? Cutting out dairy, especially butter.
“Every month I’d continue to fine tune the diet,” said Simons. “People around me started to see a physical and mental change. From a sustainability and health standpoint, it made sense.”
Not just influencing his own personal diet, Simons’ new-found love of plant-based foods influenced his restaurants too. “Ultimately I started a plant-based series at the restaurant.”
If you are looking for some food inspiration, then jump over to some of Jared’s favorites;
- Recovery Smoothie – So yum!
- Vegan BLT – No rubbish found in these
- The best Tacos on the planet – so good
Walking a marathon isn’t what Simmons is about
Jared Simons isn’t just another age grouper who likes to finish a race, he’s ferociously competitive. “I’m not going to be a pro, but Ironman races are definitely not just a bucket list thing,” said Simons. “I don’t want to just get through it. Seeing people walk the marathon to me blows my mind, it just doesn’t make sense! I’m not that guy.”
Now Simons has far surpassed his days of spending one-hour doing cardio on his own, and he works with two different coaches. “One coaches me overall with all the facets of triathlon, and I do regular lactate testing with him,” said Jared. “I’m a data guy, if I see the numbers it makes sense to me.” Simons has another coach for swimming, and he’s confident he receives huge benefits from both.
Alpha athletes in 70.3 make Ironman better
“I found my first Ironman easier than 70.3,” said Simons, “at that distance, the effort is dialed back just slightly. Yes, it’s longer, but it’s different.”
It’s not just the distance that makes these races different, it’s the competitors too. “70.3 is a lot more competitive than Olympic distance and Ironman, there are a lot of A-type personalities out there. At the full distance, everyone in the race is like ‘you’re doing it and that’s cool.” During the race, lots of people were like ‘I know you from Instagram, with the beard and the kit and the tattoos! It’s fun!”
Modelling for LA Apparel brand Love The Pain
“I bought a hat from them and took a pic running in it, and they reached out to me. I’m a style guy so I think most of the gear in triathlon blows,” laughed Simons. “These guys though, their aesthetic was great and the product is good, so I bought a lot of it!”
Unlike some athletes who reserve their stylish kits for race day, Simons trains in his Love The Pain kit too. “They decided I was a great customer and I love their stuff, so eventually they asked me to model some kits for the company,” said Simons.
Love The Pain is the answer to daggy racewear, and it’s no surprise people with a foot in the door of the latest lifestyle, food, and fitness trends like Simons are keen supporters.
Check out Jared’s inspiring Instagram feed. After hearing Simons’ powerful story, would you turn plant-based if it meant you were healthier?
Super League: Jersey Brings Out The Best For Kristian Blummenfelt
A new champion has arisen at Super League Jersey. Kristian Blummenfelt of Norway backed up his win in yesterday’s Triple Mix with the win in today’s Eliminator to score the maximum of 50 points and take the Super League Jersey overall win. Blummenfelt took out the top spot in five out of six stages this weekend, a product of a year in which he has come into his own. In the previous Super League Triathlon event on Hamilton Island, he made a mark by winning two out of the three Eliminator stages, then went on to capitalize on this aggressive racing by taking three silvers and one bronze on the world circuit, finishing third in the world.
The podium for Eliminator mirrored the overall podium as Great Britain’s pride Jonathan Brownlee took second place over the three-stage race and in overall points, knocking erstwhile runner-up and defending Super League Hamilton Island champion Richard Murray of South Africa down to third overall.
The Eliminator format has three stages of swim-bike-run whittling the field down to the fastest 15 and then 10 to race for victory. The conditions were even wetter than the women’s race held an hour earlier as rain continued to pour down on Jersey. Not only would the fastest survive, but also the ones with the least mishaps.
Jake Birtwhistle and Brownlee were among the first few to exit the 300-meter swim and head out onto the five-kilometer bike leg composed of five laps around a one-kilometer circuit. The wet roads made what was already a highly technical course even more threatening. The optimal spot seemed to be up in front of the athletes with good bike handling skills. Those hanging off the back were more inclined to take risks to bridge back up, with crashes taking athletes like Dmitri Polyanskiy of Russia and Ben Dijkstra of Great Britain out of the running.
Blummenfelt found himself in the front bunch on the two-lap run on the one-kilometer circuit and could not resist taking the Stage 1 top finish ahead of Brownlee and ascendant Aussie Aaron Royle, who finished ahead of compatriots Birtwhistle and Matt Hauser, who got the last pontoon spot into Stage 2.
Hauser’s 15th place finish from the previous stage became a distant memory as he pushed out to the front of the swim with Brownlee on his feet. He was determined to make the final stage unlike on Hamilton Island when he was eliminated as the 11th finisher in the second stage.
Strong swim-bikers Ben Kanute of the USA and Australia’s Ryan Fisher pushed the bike pace to ensure they could finish the run in the top 10 even with fast runners coming up behind them. While Blummenfelt fell back to as far as 11th on the bike, this was more of an energy-conserving move as he found the front on the run again, this time with Royle in second and Brownlee in third. But finish order within the top 10 would hardly matter, as it was the Stage 3 finish that counted for the win.
Athletes poured out every last ounce of their speed on this final stage of the Eliminator. Aggressive racing would either be rewarded with a win or a crash out as the rain grew even more insistent. Once again, Hauser led from the swim out onto the bike with Kanute chasing. Brownlee, showing his mastery of these trademark British conditions, sat in third. Murray was on the back foot from the swim and cycled in the back of the bunch. However, with most of the men getting off the bike together, an excellent transition put Murray right back in the race — for second.
Blummenfelt had gone off the front on the final lap of the bike. Once his running shoes were on, he shot off in what looked like a controlled sprint and never let up. It was all Brownlee could do to keep him in sight, and Murray ran out of road to fight for the runner-up position. Hauser in fourth led the final Aussie contingent, followed by Birtwhistle and Royle.
Brownlee said, “I had a massive advantage there with British weather and British crowds so thank you to everyone for coming out even in this weather. I enjoyed today; I actually think I got fitter from yesterday, but Kristian was far better than us all the whole weekend and I was absolutely nowhere near him today. Well done, and well done to Richard as well. It’s great fun, it’s great racing and hopefully, everyone’s enjoyed it.”
Murray responded, “I think Kristian was definitely ahead of both Jonny and myself today as well as yesterday but I gave it everything and the crowd were amazing. The weather didn’t play ball but the guys were safe out there most of the time and we had a great time.”
Blummenfelt said he could not help his gutsy approach to the day’s racing, which has ultimately won for him $18,000 in prize money. “I tried to play a little bit safe in the beginning and just make it inside the top 15 and top 10 but it’s just so hard to hold back when I like racing,” he admitted. “Hopefully I get winter off training now and I’ll be fit for next year.”
With both pro races completed, the Corporate Mix final leaderboard has also been computed. The Corporate Mix overall win relies on the total of a team’s points garnered from their relay finish position and the points from their pro male and female athletes’ finish positions. Team Comprop wins the Corporate Mix with 98 points, boosted by Blummenfelt’s 50 points. First Names Group Team 2 benefited from Katie Zaferes’ 50 points from the twin wins in the Triple Mix and Eliminator, ending up in second with 81 points. The Ravenscroft Titans found themselves in third with 61 points, propped up by their relay team’s great finishes.
Super League: Katie Zaferes crowned First Female Champion in Jersey
Super League Triathlon crowned its first queen with Katie Zaferes taking out today’s Eliminator race and the overall win at Super League Jersey. The Eliminator podium also mirrored the final overall podium, with Summer Cook besting Nicola Spirig to the runner-up spot both in the race itself as well as in total points earned. The Eliminator format involved three stages of swim-bike-run, with the field progressively growing smaller. Only the top 15 finishers of Stage 1 would go on to Stage 2, and only the ten fastest finishers of Stage 3 could compete for the Eliminator win.
Wet conditions today stood in stark contrast to yesterday’s sunshine. As the technical bike course shimmered with leftovers puddles from a midday storm, athletes needed to play a tactical game to ensure they stayed rubber-side up.
Great Britain’s Sophie Coldwell led through the 300-meter swim with Kirsten Kasper of the USA and Carolina Routier from Spain in second and third, but a logjam at the bike mount allowed Coldwell to break clear. Compatriot Jodie Stimpson found her way up onto Coldwell’s wheel, with the two athletes working together to control their race over the five-kilometer bike course where slick cobblestones and tight corners posed many dangers to success.
A wise decision it seemed, for further back in the pack small mistakes on slick patches of road cost athletes some skin and more as they crashed into each other. Two pairs of athletes crashed in the same location one lap apart, taking them out of contention for Stage 2. Desirae Ridenour of Canada and Emma Pallant of Great Britain, and Barbara Riveros of Chile and Emma Jeffcoat of Australia.
Meanwhile, the leading Brits proved well capable of handling the wet, riding into transition with a clear lead for the run. Yesterday’s leading athletes Zaferes and Spirig seemed content to let Coldwell and Stimpson surge ahead; after all, one only needed to rank 15th and higher to move on to the next round.
Coldwell and Stimpson high-fived each other and crossed the finish line together after the two-kilometer run, while Spirig was unable to resist her competitive nature and surged to third place.
A race-within-a-race unfolded for 15th place, with Claire Michel of Belgium clinching the final spot into Stage 2 ahead of Russia’s Anastasia Abrosimova.
The big names were still among the 15 to toe the Stage 2 start line. Coldwell and Stimpson emerged from the water in front, with a few athletes in the back caught in some accidental fisticuffs on the swim.
Zaferes, Spirig, and Kasper stuck close to the two Brits to hit the run in the lead group. Coldwell faded, allowing Spirig, Zaferes, and Kasper to finish second, third, and fourth to Stimpson.
It became a heated race for the last five spots on the Stage 3 pontoon. After a while on her own, Cook finally bridged up to the leaders. Rachel Klamer, Charlotte McShane, Emmie Charayron, and Melanie Santos beat Non Stanford for the chance to race once more.
While the athletes had been largely tactical through the first two stages keeping their chips close, Stage 3 of the Eliminator was where they would spend them. It was time to see who could go fastest over the now-familiar course.
The pace was up as athletes stretched out single-file over the swim. Coldwell once again was first out of the water, followed by two Americans Kasper and Cook. The three pushed to make a break on the bike, but a hard-charging Spirig pulled Stimpson and Zaferes right back up onto them.
It seemed a battle between Spirig of Switzerland and Zaferes of the USA as they got onto the run, but it was here where the American’s fleet feet took her to the front, never to look back.
Meanwhile, Cook’s track-and-field background came good as she put on a surge of her own to pip Spirig for second. While Kasper attempted to make it an all-American podium sweep, Spirig held strong to clinch third.
“On the run, I knew when I made the pass I had to gap them or else it was game over. So I really just went for it and I tried not to look back. I was running pretty scared at the end but it worked out,” said Cook post-race. “I was really nervous yesterday morning and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was a little bit scared but I ended up thinking last night that yesterday’s format was one of the most fun races I’ve ever done. Today was pretty fun too but I’m still in a little bit too much pain to appreciate it yet.”
While Spirig slipped to third overall after coming in second yesterday, finishing at the pointy end in a top-caliber field was a testament to her strength and quality as an athlete. She said, “It’s good fun, I think it was tough for everyone today with the weather and with the format but well done to the girls and I think I did my best. I’m very happy.”
Zaferes takes home the top prize of $18,000 and the first women’s trophy for Super League Triathlon after a consistent season on the world triathlon circuit. “It’s just so cool, it’s a different style of racing. It’s a fun style but it is so painful and you cannot hide anywhere,” she said. “I would love to do more of these.”
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