Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig continued her winning streak to take the inaugural Cartagena World Cup race on Sunday, with Paula Findlay (CAN) finishing second and Katrien Verstuyft (BEL) third.
With climatic conditions cooler than anticipated and featuring a 1.5km swim that involved a run across the sand to the starting beach, Spain’s Carolina Routier took an early lead out of the water, followed by Summer Cook (USA) and Anastasia Abrosimova (RUS).
Cook grabbed the lead on the first lap of the bike but fell behind on the second lap, with Line Thams (DEN) leading Findlay and Celine Schaerer (SUI). Anja Knapp (GER) stole the lead on lap three, with Verstuyft in second ahead of Thams.
Spirig surged into the lead in lap four, with Findlay steadfastly holding onto second ahead of Lisa Perterer (AUT), but had slipped back to fourth place in the sixth lap only to clamber back to second place behind Knapp at the transition to the run.
The 32-year-old Swiss triathlete and gold medallist at the London 2012 Olympics saw a strong challenge from Findlay, who took the lead in the second lap. But Spirig was able to sprint to a win, notching up her second win in as many weeks, having placed first in Cozumel earlier this month.
She won despite suffering from a suspected sting, and for which she received medical attention after the race.
“I just felt something hurt, it could have been on the bike or in the ocean. It certainly wasn’t a bee, but it was huge,” she said.
“My swim was really good. I felt really bad at the beginning of the run, so I don’t think it affected me. It wasn’t the perfect race but I won and that’s always amazing. But it wasn’t easy. I just hung on and it got better and better. It was great to win again.”
Findlay finished second after a consistent pace, but was unable to find the strength for a late surge.
“I just needed that extra speed at the end that I don’t have yet. I didn’t have such a good swim, but I felt in control. It was overcast and early so there was no time for it to heat up, so we had really good conditions.”
The swim implied an entrance and exit from the water from different beaches, and a run across the sand at the first lap, which Findlay described as fun and an interesting format.
“It’s good to be able to see what position you’re in,” she said.
Verstuyft finished third, a relief after a difficult year.
“I’ve had a difficult season so it’s good to finish on a high. I knew I was good so I just had to prove it in the race,” she said.
Lindsey Jerdonek (USA) crashed on the first corner on the bike, badly grazing her thigh, and retired after one more lap.
“I came all the way down here and I wanted to get more race experience out of it, so it’s good I did one more lap. I went a little too fast and it was slippery. I was in too much of a hurry.”
1. Nicola Spirig SUI CH 01:55:21
2. Paula Findlay CAN CA 01:55:30
3. Katrien Verstuyft BEL BE 01:55:46
4. Lisa Perterer AUT AT 01:56:08
5. Anahi León MEX MX 01:56:41
6. Anastasia Abrosimova RUS RU 01:57:00
7. Johanna Gartman USA US 01:57:07
8. Charlotte Bonin ITA IT 01:57:16
9. Anja Knapp GER DE 01:57:20
10. Mariya Shorets RUS RU 01:57:22
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Unperturbed by torrential rain that threatened to interrupt the inaugural ITU World Cup race in Cartagena on Sunday, France’s Pierre Le Corre won gold ahead of Sven Riederer of Switzerland and Le Corre’s countryman Dorian Coninx.
Le Corre clocked a rapid 1:45:40 on the flat, seafront course despite a deluge that began in the second lap of the bike race, tumbling roadside barriers and sending spectators scurrying but fortunately not dampening the athletes’ enthusiasm.
“We [he and Dorian] wanted it to rain, to make it easier for us, but we had to be careful on the turns so as not to fall off,” a soaked Le Corre said after the race.
Riederer raced in 1:46:09, with Coninx finishing in 1:46:17 after being second out of the water. Russia’s Alexander Bryukhankov finished fourth after leading the field in lap one of the run, and Felipe Barraza of Chile finished fifth after being third in the swim, in second place after the first lap on the bike and lying fourth in the first lap of the run.
“It was a lot of fun and great to finish second in my last World Cup race of the year,” Riederer said.
Asked if he thought the heavy rain would lead to the race being stopped due to the hazard, he said nobody would have been able to stop the athletes from finishing the race.
“I don’t like the heat, like in Cozumel last week,” he said, a race in which he finished 40th.
Slovakia’s Richard Varga clocked the fastest swim and crossed the line first on the bike, but failed to keep up the momentum in the run and finished sixth.
A cooler than expected and overcast morning gave way to a cloudburst as the riders completed the first bike lap, which rapidly flooded the road, while gusts of wind tumbled roadside barriers.
USA’s Hunter Kemper completed the fastest run, in 21:08, while none of the six Colombians competing in the city’s inaugural race, and who were cheered on by crowds of excited locals, finished inside the top twenty.
1. Pierre Le Corre FRA FR 01:45:40
2. Sven Riederer SUI CH 01:46:09
3. Dorian Coninx FRA FR 01:46:17
4. Alexander Bryukhankov RUS RU 01:46:25
5. Felipe Barraza CHI CL 01:46:39
6. Richard Varga SVK SK 01:46:41
7. Hunter Kemper USA US 01:46:47
8. William Huffman USA US 01:47:07
9. Irving Perez MEX MX 01:47:15
10. Andrea Salvisberg SUI CH 01:47:16
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Text and Images courtesy ITU/ Arnold Lim