Wet for the Third International Triathlon Event
By Roger Childs
Kiwi Andrea Hewitt came into the Japanese event having won both in Abu Dhabi and on the Gold Coast. Could she make it three in a row? There was a strong field dominated by British and American athletes, and it also included 2016 champion, Bermudan Flora Duffy, was having her first ITU outing of the year.
In the elite men’s event, Spaniard, Mario Mola, had also won on the Gold Coast. However the 2016 champion would face tough competition in a Yokohama from fellow countrymen, Javier Gomez and Fernando Alarza, and Englishman star, Jonathan Brownlee.
Weather conditions were calm, but it teemed with rain throughout both races. The athletes would have to take great care cycling on the very wet, puddly roads.
A no-contest in the women’s race
Bermuda Flora Duffy was out of the water with the leading swimmers and was quickly into the front group on the cycle. Meanwhile Andrea Hewitt had a poor swim and was about a minute behind getting on her bike.
Duffy made a break with Sophie Coldwell from Britain, who was competing in her first ITU elite event, and the two ended the bike leg well ahead of the field. However, Duffy had a very poor transition which meant Coldwell had a comfortable start on the run.
The Bermudan is an excellent runner and was soon in front. Meanwhile Americans Katie Zafares and Kirsten Kasper were chasing after Coldwell, who was keen to pick up a podium place in her first outing.
Duffy ran steadily throughout and moved further and further head on each on the four laps. In the end she won by 1 minute 52 seconds: the biggest winning margin in triathlon history! The Americans caught Coldwell who did well to hang on for fourth place.
In the dash to the finish for second, Zafares outsprinted her compatriot.
Andrea Hewitt finished a disappointing 23rd and never recovered from being well back in the swim.
A more competitive event in the men’s race
Jonathan Brownlee was first out of the water, but was quickly followed by most of the field. A group of over twenty came together in the leading bunch on the cycle and, because of the slippery roads, they took the many corners very carefully.
Apart from an unsuccessful break off the front led by Brownlee, the cycle leg was uneventful; that is until about a kilometre to go.
At this point the Englishman crashed on a tight corner and it seemed he was out of the race. (Beside his bike stand it registered DNF (Did Not Finish))
Meanwhile, Mario Mola, considered to be the fastest in the field, quickly caught the early leaders Henri Schoeman from South Africa and Norway’s Kristian Blummenfeld. The latter looks more like a front row prop than a triathlete and wasn’t expected to get a top placing.
From back in the pack another Spaniard, Fernando Alarza, was closing on the leading three. He caught Schoeman and Blummenfeld , but Mola was able to hang on for the win with Alarza second. Schoeman seemed have third all sewn up, but the Norwegian produced a withering burst of speed in the final straight to claim third place.
A brave effort from Brownlee
After his crash Jonathan Brownlee could see that his bike was not rideable, so he carried it over his shoulder to the transition!
He then deposited it in the rack, put his cap on, and set out on the run in last place.
To his great credit he finished 42nd out of 47 finishers.