2017 ITU World Cup season kicks off with Murray and Hall victories
The first ITU event in Cape Town was a thrilling start to the year. Trizone looks back at this exciting race, the all-South African men’s podium and incredibly battle between English friends Learmonth and Lucy Hall.
ITU South Africa Men’s Race Review
Local South African Richard Murray had told everyone how desperately he wanted to win the ITU race on home soil since his last win four years ago, but he wasn’t the only one with his eyes on the top spot. Local South African athletes Henri Schoeman and Wian Sullwald were other key power players, and the start line was tense.
This tension built and maintained intensity throughout the swim, with a strong lead pack forming and storming through the water. The bike leg was no different, and the furious lead pack powered on with a thick group vying for the win. Schoeman was riding his new Hypervox Swift Bike, a huge talking point on social media before the event thanks to its slick styling.
Penalty threatens Murray’s dream
As the pack stormed into T2, Murray dropped his helmet outside the box, earning himself a time penalty. Scrambling, he narrowly took the lead with Schoeman racing hard just behind him. With his wish to win on home soil, Murray worked hard throughout the run, and maintained his lead until the finish. Murray was followed by an all-South African podium of Henri Schoeman in second and Wian Sullwald in third.
Richard Murray (RSA) – 51:33
Henri Schoeman (RSA) – 51:41
Wian Sullwald (RSA) – 51:56
“Third time’s a charm they say! Finally got it today. When I heard about that penalty though… I thought it was a 15 second penalty and I knew the gap to Henri was not that big, so I was pressed. That was the hardest I pushed myself in the first race of the season ever! So happy though to finally get the win in Cape Town,” said a very happy, very relieved Murray.
“I’m happy with my race. The form is good. I made that one mistake going out on the run when I pushed too hard to follow Richard. I went in the red a bit too early so I could not push harder at the end when Richard served his penalty. I thought I might have a chance, but my legs were feeling like lead at that stage,” said Schoeman.
Wian was thrilled with his result, posting on Facebook: “Great to finally get the season started here in Cape Town with the Discovery Triathlon ITU world Cup and a clean sweep in the mens field with me finishing 3rd. Happy to see that my come back trail in well on path. Very big thank you to all the wonderful people that came out to support us and make the pain a bit easier. Congrats to champs Richard Murray and Henri Schoeman who made history with the first ever clean sweep at a World Cup!
All three athletes mentioned the impact of an all South African podium. “It is a fantastic day for us. I am happy we could have done it for our country and sport,” said Schoeman.
Murray added: “It could not have been a better day out in Cape Town. I very happy for Wian seeing that he is coming back after being injured. I hope this will help grow the sport even more.”
ITU South Africa Women’s Race Review
Rivals and friends, Great Britain’s Lucy Hall and Jessica Learmonth battled throughout the entire race last weekend in Cape Town.
Starting the swim stroke for stroke, the pair continued their battle into the bike leg. Rachel Klamer of Holland dug her heels in and worked hard on the bike to gain on the leaders, and at T2 she was moving up. As the run commenced though, Klamer lost some steam, and Ai Ueda of Japan soared past her.
Exciting sprint finish at the blue carpet
The leaders were neck and neck though, and the two friends had discussed a sprint finish as they ran step for step during the run. “We decided during the run that we would start sprinting once we reach the blue carpet and just to go for it and what happens, happen,” said Learmonth.
“The plan was to use Cape Town as part of our training and have a bit of fun! We wanted to test some training tactics as well and it did work, but triathlon is very unpredictable and there are so many variables…so when it all works out it is just wonderful!” said Hall.
On her first World Cup win she added: “It is amazing. I’m turning 25 next week and I always said that if I can get a World Cup podium before I am 25 then I will be happy.”
Ueda could not hide her satisfaction with her podium place. “My favorite discipline is running and the weather was perfect today. I’m just so happy that I got on the podium again.”