Erin Densham (AUS) and Steffen Justus (GER) run away to first ITU World Triathlon Series wins in Sydney
Sydney, Australia (14 April 2012) – Australia’s Erin Densham proved her incredible World Cup win in Mooloolaba wasn’t just a one-off performance in Sydney, when she blitzed the field in the run again to claim her first ITU World Triathlon Series win and further stake her claim for Olympic selection.
In another brilliant run just three weeks after her turn in Mooloolaba, the 26-year-old powered ahead in the final kilometre to take the win from reigning ITU World Champion Helen Jenkins, while Andrea Hewitt collected her sixth straight ITU podium, taking bronze.
Coming off her impressive World Cup win, Densham exited the swim in the top 15, rode with the leaders in a huge front pack before exiting T2 in the lead and quickly went ahead in a group of seven that included Jenkins, Hewitt, Mariko Adachi, Emma Moffatt, Ainhoa Murua and Laura Bennett. Densham set the pace from the start, and in the final three kilometres it came down to the Australian and the women who finished #1 and #2 in the overall ITU World Championship standings last year. Hewitt was the first to drop, before Densham went clear of Jenkins with one kilometre to go. It’s another exclamation point on an impressive comeback from corrective heart surgery she had after the Beijing Olympics. Densham said she hoped it would put any doubts concerning her form to rest.
“Mooloolaba was the first step and proved what I could do,” she said. “There was more pressure today in knowing what I could do and coming to do it again, I am sure there were probably a few people who thought it was a one-off, so I am just glad I have done it again and hopefully I can put some of those doubters to rest.”
The first ITU World Triathlon Series event of the year started with a wetsuit swim early on Saturday morning, and Adachi was first out of the water with a 20-second lead. While two large groups initially formed, a lead pack of 29 and a chase of 24, Nicola Spirig led the first chase and halfway through the 40km bike leg she had helped to pull that group up to the leaders, including Gwen Jorgensen and Emma Snowsill.
From there a huge pack of over 50 athletes hit T2 together, and it all came down to the run. Densham posted the fastest split of the day, 34 minutes and 28 seconds, to win by four seconds from Jenkins, in a total time of 2 hours 01 minute and 29 seconds. The first four women all posted sub-35 minute times, as Jorgensen ran through the field to collect fourth. Australia finished with four athletes in the top 15, as Ashleigh Gentle ran her way into the top ten, while Ainhoa Murua and Anne Haug posted career best finishes, and Kathy Tremblay her best series results since 2009. Adachi ended up ninth, a strong performance after capturing the Asian Championships last weekend, staking her claim for a spot on the Japanese Olympic team.
Dextro Energy World Triathlon Sydney – 14 April 2012
Final Results – Elite Women – 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run
1. Erin Densham
2. Helen Jenkins
3. Andrea Hewitt
4. Gwen Jorgensen
5. Nicola Spirig
6. Ainhoa Murua
7. Anne Haug
8. Kathy Tremblay
9. Mariko Adachi
10. Ashleigh Gentle
Elite Men’s Review
Germany’s Steffen Justus broke through for the biggest win of his ITU career, in a men’s ITU World Triathlon Series race that had twists and turns at every corner in Sydney on Saturday.
After a two-man bike breakaway coming into T2, Russia’s Ivan Vasiliev dropped his breakaway partner James Elvery in the first few hundred metres and managed to stay out front until the second last run lap. It wasn’t until the final 15 minutes that the trio of Justus, South Africa’s Richard Murray and France’s Laurent Vidal pulled ahead of the Russian. It set up a final lap showdown, but Justus didn’t look back from passing Vasiliev. He rocketed to the front and stayed there, to claim his first ITU World Triathlon Series win and first major ITU title. He said the key had been making his move at the six-kilometre mark of the run.
“The swim was solid. I’m not the best swimmer, so I sat in the middle of the pack. In the bike I tried to stay in the top 10-15, but it was such a big group today; it’s quite dangerous in the middle. Transition two was good for me and I had a good run out,” Justus said. “Alexander (Bryukhankov) made a fast run in the front, so it was good for me because it split the pack. From 6km mark I tried to push a bit and he dropped; so I kept running and running to make a bigger gap and make it to the finish line.”
Murray shook off Vidal to claim his first ITU World Triathlon Series medal and the first in history by an African athlete, while Vidal’s bronze is his second consecutive podium in 2012, and his first series medal since 2009.
With plenty on the line in the men’s race in terms of Olympic qualification, both individually and in terms of National Olympic Committees (NOCs) qualifying the maximum spots, it wasn’t surprising that Vasiliev went hard from the start. Within the first ten kilometres, he went off the front with Elvery and as two groups behind them became one huge pack of over 50 athletes, the pair added to their lead by an average of ten seconds per lap. While a few small groups tried to break from the main chase pack none were successful.
Heading into T2, Vasiliev and Elvery had a lead of just over a minute and the Russian moved quickly to add to it. Behind him the battle was heating up, though, as Alexander Bryukhankov, David Hauss, Justus, Vidal, Murray pushed ahead of the rest. In the final kilometre Justus pulled away and after high-fiving fans down the finishing chute, and leaped through the finish tape with an ecstatic fist pump, in a huge show of emotion.
But the podium places weren’t the only important results in Sydney, with plenty more having an effect on the London Olympic field. Vasiliev finished sixth, which should see Russia hold onto three
Dextro Energy World Triathlon Sydney – 14 April 2012
Final Results – Elite Men – 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run