Jesse Featonby overcame some challenging times to take out a career best result at the 2013 Chizhou ITU Triathlon Premium Asian Cup last weekend. With a great all round race Featonby found himself at the head of the race on to the run and never looked back. This is a strong result for Featonby and builds on his solid start to the year. With a 5th at Mooloolaba this year, a 14th at Wellington in a strong international field and other solid results Featonby will be taking a lot more confidence in to his next few races.
In the women’s race Australian Kirralee Seidel won after coming from behind after the swim where she had to put in a fast bike to bridge the gap. Her run was too good for the field.
We caught up with Jesse Featonby to congratulate him and hear first hand how the race went. After a travel debacle to rival ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’, Featonby arrived at the race 11am the day before, prepared himself in record time and had the race of his life.
The strong international field was field was lead by multiple ITU Premium Cup winner Vladimir Turbayevskiy along with two other Russian athletes, and with a large representation of Australian athletes making their way over to compete it was going to be crucial for Featonby to put himself in a strong position throughout the entire race. With the addition of heavy rain all week and on race morning, the six lap technical bike course was also an important factor to watch out for.
On race morning Featonby wasn’t feeling that great. “After a solid warm up I was confident the training I had done in the weeks leading up would put all the disasters of the trip far out of my mind.”
The two lap swim went far better than he had anticipated. “I didn’t feel good in the water but fought hard and hung on to the front guys coming through the first lap which was lead by Australian Mitch Kealey. This was a massive shock as some solid swimmers including Ron Darmon, Alex Latin andÂ Vladimir TurbayevskiyÂ were all within my sights. I put in everything I had to make sure I stayed with the group and I entered transition in the lead pack of 12 athletes.”
Featonby had a great transition and settled into the pack over the six lap rain soaked course. Several attacks were made by Sam Speechly and Ben Lyons with Ben unfortunately suffering the consequences of wet weather and getting a puncture on lap 3. He wasn’t the only one as several others became victims over the 40km. The chase pack which included some strong runners such as Matt Brown and Tim George were gaining significant time on the leading group. “With a brand new Trek Madone underneath me I backed myself and had a few goes at breaking away from the bunch. I was chased down continuously and with a lap to go the chase group made contact taking the group outÂ to about 20 athletes. With one last attempt with half a lap to go myself and Alex Latin, a good friend from Estonia, slipped away and in just one lap got a solid 30 second lead into the second transition.”
With a lead heading out on to the 10km run Featonby found himself in a position he has never been in at this level of competition. With a lot of confidence back into his running fitness he didn’t let the nerves take control. “I focused on a plan of holding the 30 second gap rather than blowing myself up on the first lap. The up and back four lap course allowed me to judge the competition.” Featonby’s main chasers were Kealey,Â Vladimir Turbayevskiy, George and Latin who were running shoulder to shoulder over the first half of the run. He held the lead from the chasers for the first 5km. “Over the final 5km I gave everything I had left and turning the final U-turn with 1.25km to go, I was thrilled to see I had extended my gap fromÂ Turbayevskiy and Kealey. While I was still a long way from the line, I couldn’t help but smile the final kilometer as it started to sink in what I was about to achieve.
After overcoming the shambles of a lead up the days before, Featonby was ecstatic to finally get his turn to lead the way down the finish chute to win his first ITU Premium Cup. “With 30:37 10km run I’ve definitely bounced back from the injury of last year!”
Mitch Kealey took out the bronze for another fantastic Australia result.
In the women’s race Australia also had a great win with Kirralee Seidel winning the gold ahead of fellow Australian Gillian Backhouse coming in for the silver.
Full results and splits below.