Exciting Triathlon Grand Final
By Roger Childs
The climax of the eight event International Triathlon Union (ITU) season is the Grand Final. This year Rotterdam, the busiest port in the world, was the setting.
There were two trophies up for grabs:
~ the Grand Final
~ the ITU 2017 World Championship.
During the year in the elite men’s division, Mario Mola from Spain had set the pace, and he only had to finish in the top six in the Dutch city to take the overall 2017 title.
However, he was keen to win the Grand Final as well!
Plenty of stars run out together
During the year, individual top runners have broken away on the cycle leg with lesser talent, and been able to race away to victory, on the 10km run.
However in Rotterdam, a group of 25 cyclists came into transition at the end of the second leg, and consequently the run was bound to be highly competitive.
Five of the fastest triathletes were there from the start: as well as Mola, there was Spanish legend Javier Gomez Moya, and the younger of the amazing Brownlee brothers, Jonathan.
These three had been winners in the previous four ITU events, so on form, they were expected to take the podium places.
The other two in the five man breakaway group were Norwegian Kristian Blummenfelt, who is built like an All Black forward, and Vincent Luis from France, a very fast short distance specialist.
Blummenfelt has been a surprise package this year and was second in Montreal and third in Yokohama. Luis’s best performance in 2017 had been a third at Abu Dhabi early in the year.
No going according to the script
The gang of five were not going to be caught by any of the others and they stayed together until the final lap. The smart money was on Mola, who had been the fastest runner in most of the earlier ITU events. Surely he would make a move in the last 2km.
Brownlee was first to be dropped, so the two Spaniards were left to battle it out with Blummenfelt and Luis. With about a kilometre to go, Mola seemed to be struggling and was soon five metres behind.
The Norwegian and the Frenchman picked up the pace and Gomez was also dropped. It was all on in the final straight and ultimately Luis proved to have too much gas for Blummenfelt and won by 3 seconds.
Mola found another gear to come past Gomez on the blue carpet, to take third in the race and win the overall title for 2017.
Luis was delighted with his first ever ITU victory. I had a stress fracture straight after Abu Dhabi so I have had to rest for a few months and realised I would have to take my time and maybe go ‘all in’ for the Grand Final… It paid off!