For the second year in a row, the World Triathlon Series Grand Final came down to a furious finishing chute battle between Spain’s Javier Gomez and Great Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee. And for the second year in a row, it was Gomez who pulled out a killer kick to edge ahead and this time it was enough to claim his third Elite Men’s ITU World Championship title in London on Sunday.
In a pulsating last 200m Brownlee initially broke away and looked like he would be victorious in front of the home crowd, but with the line in sight Gomez fought back brilliantly to claim victory by just one second, finishing in one hour, 48 minutes and 16 seconds.
“It feels amazing to be world champion, I can’t really believe it,” said Gomez after his victory. “It probably wasn’t my day for running, I felt quite tired, so I was just working hard on the sprint, on the last kick. It’s amazing to be champion, I’m so happy.”
Jonathan Brownlee’s second-place finish means he claimed silver medal in the overall world championship rankings, while Mario Mola (ESP) finished third in 01:49:10, which also meant he snatched bronze in the overall rankings
It was one race too many for Alistair Brownlee, however, whose on-going Achilles injury finally caught up with the Olympic champion and rankings leader before the Grand Final. Alistair had won the past 10 consecutive Olympic distance races he’d competed in on the ITU circuit, including three this year, and he was in his usual position in the lead group during the swim and the bike.
But he began wincing visibly at the start of the 10km run and soon started to drop away from the leaders. He courageously continued to fight his way to the finish, outrunning other athletes despite limping significantly, and even stopping during the dramatic sprint finish to cheer on his brother. Alistair eventually finished in 52nd place, which saw him finish fourth in the overall rankings to just miss out on a world championship medal.
For the women, Great Britain’s Non Stanford claimed the 2013 Elite Women’s ITU World Championship after a dramatic Grand Final race in London on Saturday.
Stanford finished in 2:01:32 to win her second series race of the season, finishing 25 seconds ahead of Ireland’s Aileen Reid (IRL) in an impressive second place and a further three seconds ahead of Australia’s Emma Moffatt in third.
Stanford’s Grand Final win ensured she also secured the overall ITU World Championship final in a race full of surprises, which saw two other pre-race favorites struggle. Stanford’s win created some unique history, as the first woman to win an Elite ITU World Championship in the year directly after winning an Under23 World Championship. Great Britain’s Alistair Brownlee is the only other athlete in ITU history to do so.
Rankings leader Gwen Jorgensen (USA) was forced to retire after a crash on the bike and Germany’s Anne Haug had a poor swim that pushed her right out of race day podium contention. Haug eventually finished down in 34th place in 02:06:28, but can console herself that despite an uncharacteristically bad day, she held on to a world championship podium finish with bronze. It was double heartache for Jorgensen, however, whose performance in London paved the way for Jodie Stimpson (GBR) to snatch a place on the overall series podium. Stimpson finished fourth on the day in 02:02:06, which helped her to silver medal in the overall standings.
The day had started well for Jorgensen. With only thirteen points separating the top three women after the seven races before London, Jorgensen knew her slight advantage would be enough to hold off Haug and Stanford if she managed to win in London. And it was Jorgensen who set down the marker during the 1.5km swim in the Serpentine. Continuing on from her strong swim in Stockholm, Jorgensen was within ten seconds of the lead after the first lap and exited the water in 11th place, just 15 seconds behind Moffatt who was first out of the water in 18:43 just ahead of Sarah Groff(USA).
Things got even better for Jorgensen when news filtered through that Stanford had been given a 15-second penalty after not correctly placing her wetsuit in her box after the swim.
The swim was also significant for Haug. While not uncommon for Haug to exit the water towards the back of the pack, she struggled more than usual in the water. She was two minutes behind the leaders when she got on the bike and her usual comeback ability this time failed to materialize.
It was looking like Jorgensen could begin to think about victory but there was more drama on the bike, as Jorgensen fell in slippery conditions, costing her vital time. More trouble was to follow as a bruised Jorgensen soon retired from the race to end her chances of winning her first world championship.
Suddenly Stanford was back in pole position as part of a large lead group on the bike, but with a penalty to take, it gave new hope to Jodie Stimpson who had started the day fourth in the rankings. At the start of the race, Stimpson had only a slim chance of becoming world champion but after an action-packed first half of the race, Stimpson knew she could win the world championship if she won the race and Stanford finished third or lower.
Stanford and Stimpson were part of the 23-strong lead group as the bike entered the final lap. The group also included Reid, Moffatt, Groff and 2011 World Championship Series silver medallistAndrea Hewitt (NZL).
Rachel Klamer (NED) was first to start the run, leaving transition in 1:28:19 but Stanford soon raced ahead and created a big early lead. The Briton’s tactic was to build a strong enough lead before taking her 15-second penalty in the hope she would resume the race still in front. She did exactly that, Stanford took her penalty just before the final lap and did indeed restart the race in first place ahead of Groff. A determined Stanford clearly wanted to win in style and increased her lead after her penalty before crossing the line to huge cheers from the home crowd.
Behind the frantic battle for race podium places ensued as at times, Stimpson, Moffatt and Groff were in second place. But with a final finishing chute burst, it was Reid who pulled out the killer kick to claim a silver medal, to equal her best series result. Moffatt held on for third – a year after she crashed out in the London 2012 Olympic Games triathlon race – while Stimpson crossed the line in fourth, enough to claim the overall series silver.
Bart Colpaert (BEL) and Susan Blatt (GER) have taken the inaugural titles of Challenge Almere-Amsterdam in the first year this historic race has been run as part of the Challenge Family. For both of them, these were also their first victories over the full distance and they held their own against the competition and the weather.
Colpaert is not new to Almere, having won the half distance triathlon in Almere last year. He took the lead in the cycling half way into the race and refused to give up the position following up with the day’s fastest marathon of 2:57:24 to take the win in 8:34:50, comfortably ahead of Georg Potrebitsch in 8:43:19. Erik-Simon Strijk cycled strongly and advanced forward with the fastest split of the day of 4:42:55, which was enough to see him into third in 8:45:48.
This was Susan Blatt’s fourth full distance triathlon and there was nothing holding the German back as she shrugged the harsh weather conditions off. After the swim she was five minutes behind Hillary Biscay (USA) who led out of the water in 51:37, but the American was unable to cope with the cycling prowess of the German. She posted a 5:06:12 bike split, putting her into first place for the rest of the race. It seemed as though the race was over for Irene Kinnegim after just a few hundred meters into the swim. She was plagued with cramps and clung to a buoy for five minutes but still managed to continue her race and promised the announcer after the swim that she would speed up. She did indeed speed up and ran her way into second place and the Dutch Championship title with the fastest run of the day in 3:17:17, finishing in 9:47:37. Kathrin Walther (GER) rounded out the women’s podium in 10:07:10.