No looking back; it’s not just a saying.
American Sarah Haskins executed her will on a six-woman lead group to help create the buffer she needed—without looking over her shoulder—to hold off a late charge from Japan’s Ai Ueda to win the Monterrey ITU Triathlon World Cup Sunday in 1:57:15.
In the men’s race, rising Australia powerhouse Brendan Sexton proved his fourth-place result at the ITU WCS event in Sydney was no fluke, rolling away from runner-up Frederic Belaubre of France and resurgent American Hunter Kemper to take his first World Cup victory in Mexico in 1:46:56
Haskins’ Big Gamble
“I couldn’t be happier right now,” a tired, but elated Haskins said. “This is my third win in a row, so I can’t complain. I’m just so glad that I held on!”
Haskins exited the water in the women’s race and was the instigator of a small lead group that included with Bermuda’s Flora Duffy, Hungarian Margit Vanek, Brazilian Pamela Oliveira, Japan’s Akane Tsuchihashi and Mexican Claudia Rivas, as the pack attempted to grow an initial 40-second gap to the main pack.
One of the major race favorites, Great Britain’s Liz Blatchford, missed the split in the swim, and was summarily relegated to the second chase group.
On the bike the lead group pace—set by Haskins—was hotter than the 90-plus degree temps on the course as shelled athletes fell back from the group to be absorbed by the following chase group. In fact, only Duffy was able to hold the pace as Haskins careened over the winding eight-lap track on an auto race course.
Yet despite illusions of grandeur, not even Duffy couldn’t handle Haskins’ torrid pace, and dropped off with six miles left in the bike.
“When it was just the two of us, I was like ‘well, this is gonna either go really well, or really bad.’” Duffy said. “I figured I’d hang on, take some pulls and see what I could do, but she picked it up an extra notch and when the gap opened, that was it.”
Haskins considered whether a solo effort was the smartest thing in the Mexican heat, but knew she had allies in the main group, and decided to forge on, hoping her buffer in T2 would be enough to keep a horde of hungry runners at bay.
“With two and a half laps left, I made the decision: I gotta go,” Haskins said. “I’m appreciative of my American teammates like Jill (Petersen) Gwen (Jorgensen) and Alicia (Kaye), because I’m sure they weren’t working in the group.”
Taking a healthy 1:24 buffer onto the run, Haskins maintained a steady tempo on the four-lap circuit, but could see the chasing group, which included and was paced by last year’s runner up Ai Ueda was closing the gap as the miles wound down. On the final lap, the diminutive Ueda tore away from her chase pack and took up the Haskins hunt solo. Haskins knew the game.
“That last kilometer, I knew Ai was coming and gave it all I had,” she said. “To lead all day and give it back in the last 100 meters, I just couldn’t let that happen.”
In the end, Haskins claimed the win, with Ueda, despite a blazing day-best taking second just over her shoulder, six seconds in arrears.
“The last lap, I knew I was 25 second back and I sped up,” Ueda said, “but Sarah was very tough.”
German surprise Annie Haug claimed bronze, just six seconds behind Ueda.
Sexton’s Tactical Attack
The mens event truly came down to the run. Two separate packs assimilated into one massive organism that swerved over a bike course, a featured several tight switchbacks, and given the sheer size of the group, resulted in a few spills. In fact. Sexton touched wheels with a rider and came down, with a few others collected in the spill with two laps remaining. Sexton was able to scramble to his feet and rejoin the pack, while some were forced to call it a day.
American Hunter Kemper, who recently won ITU World Cup Ishigaki, was a constant force at the front of the race, sitting fifth wheel during the entire bike, which set him up for a swift T2 and dash out to lead the field onto the run. Midway through, he was till the man on front, as Sexton, Belaubre, Switzerland’s Ruedi Wild, American Matt Chrabot and later, Jarrod Shoemaker
“It was a matter of waiting until everyone else got a bit more fatigued, then stepping it up,” Sexton said.
The move actually was sooner than he planned; Wild attacked the group two kilometers to go on the 10k run, and Sexton was on it. “I didn’t want to go that early, but did a bit of a counter-attack on Ruedi and got a bit of a gap on Fred (Belaubre) and decided that was my chance.”
Sexton coasted across the finish run-up, soaking in his first World Cup win. Belaubre took silver, 10 seconds back, while Kemper proved he’s back with a solid third-place showing.
“Another podium, two in a row—I’ll take it,” Kemper said. “Sexton was too tough today, but I’m really encouraged. Today shows that it’s there—it’s consistently there. It’s early May, and I can’t be peaking now—if I am, I’m in trouble. I’m right where I need to be.”
2011 Monterrey ITU Triathlon World Cup
May 8, 2011, Monterrey, Mexico
1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run
1. Brendan Sexton (AUS) 1:46:56
2. Frederic Belaubre (FRA) 1:47:06
3. Hunter Kemper (USA) 1:47:11
4. Ruedi Wild (SUI) 1:47:20
5. Vincent Luis (FRA) 1:47:27
6. Jarrod Shoemaker (USA) 1:47:37
7. Danylo Sapunov (UKR) 1:47:39
8. Matt Chrabot (USA) 1:47:50
9. Carlos Javier Quinchara Forero (COL) 1:47:51
10. Tony Dodds (NZL) 1:47:52
1. Sarah Haskins (USA) 1:57:15
2. Ai Ueda (JPN) 1:57:21
3. Anne Haug (GER) 1:57:27
4. Helle Frederiksen (DEN) 1:57:29
5. Gwen Jorgensen (USA) 1:57:33
6. Rachel Klamer (NED) 1:57:46
7. Kathy Tremblay (CAN) 1:57:51
8. Katrien Verstuyft (BEL) 1:57:56
9. Rebecca Robisch (GER) 1:57:58
10. Emmie Charayron (FRA) 1:58:00