March 24, 2014: A vastly improved swim leg has been the catalyst for a timely return to form for London Olympian Brendan Sexton after another encouraging performance in yesterday’s ITU Triathlon World Cup over the sprint distance in New Plymouth.
Sexton was out of the water less than 30 seconds behind noted swimmers Stefan Zachaeus (Germany) and Richard Varga (Slovakia) over the 750m course in a classy men’s field and put himself in the frame from the outset for the second week in a row.
After a close-up ninth to Spain’s Mario Mola in Mooloolaba last week, Sexton stormed home again for another encouraging performance with the fifth fastest 5km split of the day of 14.43 to finish fifth overall â€“ again to Mola who upset ITU World Champion, Spanish countryman Javier Gomez.
It will be another huge confidence booster for Sexton who knows he faces a tough road back to the kind of form that saw him become the boy most likely in the lead up to the London Olympics.
Dan Wilson, after working hard off the front of the bike, faded on the run, splitting 15:27 while Cam Good, having his first ITU race of the season scrambled into a top 20 finish, coming home 17th after his run split of 15:14.
Other Australians in the field were Jesse Featonby (23rd), Kenji Nener (30th) and Declan Wilson (47th).
Triathlon Australia’s Performance Director Bernard Savage was full of praise for Sexton.
â€œBrendan is certainly showing improvement in his swim â€“ an area he knew he had to continue to work on â€“ he came out in the front group and it set up his race very well,â€ said Savage.
â€œHe ran on to be the best of the boys in what was a mixed bag all round for the Australians after Dan Wilson rode off the front on the bike.â€
Dan Wilson took the reins on the bike with Ireland’s Ben Shaw and Sexton joined in and rode superbly over the 20km bike course to position himself for the 5km run to the finish.
In a field of brilliant runners, including Spanish trio â€“ eventual winner Mola, Gomez and Fernando Alzara and Portugal’s Joao Silva, Sexton fought hard and pushed through chasing the leaders.
While Silva positioned himself well from the start, Gomez and Mola had to work their way through the pack ahead of transition.
They managed to manoeuvre their way there on the third of four laps, and were among a group that included Alarza, Laurent Vidal and Vincent Luis who were first out on the run.
Like so many ITU races though, it was Gomez who went to the front. This time however Mola went with him and further, taking the lead for the majority of the 5km. With the finish line in sight he found yet another gear and rocketed to his second consecutive World Cup title.
The women’s race saw Sexton’s London Olympic team mate Emma Jackson make a tactical error in the swim, getting stuck on the wrong side of the course and she came out with almost 30 girls in front of her and she never recovered, to finish 19th with Australia’s other competitor, Melinda Vernon crashing on the bike to record a DNF.
â€œEmma has two weeks to get her act together for the opening round of the ITU World Triathlon Championship in Auckland â€“ it’s not the end of the world,â€ said Savage.
â€œWhile Melinda was forced out after crashing on the bike; she tried to get going again but eventually called it a day â€“ it was a real shame but there will be lessons learnt I’m sure before the next race.â€
A cyclist, tech geek at heart, a passion for new shiny things and a huge appetite for triathlon. I spend most of my time between managing two of the world's best triathletes and a traditional corporate life.