By Fergus Murray on 01/12/10 at 5:30 pm
The anticipation and excitement of the 2010 Dextro Energy ITU Triathlon World Championship Series escalated on July 24-25 as the focus moved to London and the site of the 2012 Olympic Games. For just the second time, athletes got a glimpse of the venue that awaits them in 2012.
With a stacked women’s field in London, few would have even considering betting on a little known Canadian named Paula Findlay. But the newcomer shocked everyone—including herself—in one of the year’s biggest events.
After the first of eight bike laps around world-famous Hyde Park, a group of 24 women came together to make up the lead group. And they weren’t messing around on this day, creating a lead of almost two minutes going into T2. And with a slew of talented runners among the leaders, the winner was going to emerge from this front group.
Out on the 10-kilometre run course, the field of 68 women was whittled down to four: Findlay, home favourite Helen Jenkins, Swiss Nicola Spirig and Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand. Aside from Findlay, the women were all Olympians and owned a bevy of World Championship and World Cup medals. But none of that would matter in the heated battle of ‘now’.
As they entered the final lap, Findlay slowly turned up the tempo as the others struggled to stay with her. One by one the rest of the women fell off Findlay’s pace and with 800 metres to go, it was clear the others were running for second. Findlay crossed the line to secure the biggest win of her career.
“I absolutely can’t believe this,” Findlay said afterward. “I felt better than ever on the run. I definitely did not expect to win, but I felt so smooth on the first two laps and then just tried to push things on the final lap. This is just crazy—I’m so happy.”
Spirig, who missed Hamburg the week before due to illness, finished three seconds back of Findlay for silver. Jenkins nabbed the final podium spot, to the delight of the home crowds.
Despite an off-day, finishing ninth, Emma Moffatt retained her lead atop the world rankings.
In the men’s race, Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee carried the British hopes and it looked as though both would make the podium. But the day didn’t unfold exactly as planned, particularly for Alistair, last year’s World Champion.
Approximately 40 men were riding together in the late stages of the bike portion until Ivan Rana of Spain, Brazilian Reinaldo Colucci and Stuart Hayes of Great Britain decided to break away. By the final lap, the trio was joined by four others and together, they built a lead of almost a minute.
But their lead was short-lived once the world class running talent of Gomez, Frodeno and the Brownlee brothers hit the run course. It wasn’t long before these four men were the new leaders.
By the final lap, the brothers ran with Gomez and it appeared the podium was set. But with only a kilometre left, the Spanish sensation elevated into another level. With a blistering pace, Gomez coasted to the finish while hammering out another impressive 29:30 run split.
“I think this weekend I felt even better than last weekend,” Gomez said in the finish area. “I felt like I was flying today. It was very hard to race the Brownlees today. They pushed it very hard from the beginning of the run. On the final lap I just pushed it as hard as I could and I was able to get away.”
Jonathan Brownlee held on for the silver while Jan Frodeno took the bronze after passing a struggling Alistair Brownlee, who staggered to a tenth place finish.
Standing atop the podium in London was sweet redemption for Gomez after a brutal bike crash forced him out of last year’s race. With his third podium of the year, Frodeno padded his lead in the ITU World Championship Rankings.
London’s Hyde Park will again host a leg of next year’s Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series. The event, slated for August 6-7, is planned to be an exact replica of the Olympic course and will mark the final time athletes can race it before the 2012 Olympic Games. It will also be the final Series event prior to the 2011 Grand Final in Beijing.
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