Stimpson and Gomez star in Auckland

I tried many times to drop Jonathan. He was pretty strong, but on the last lap I had something left and I just gave everything and didn’t look back. Javier Gomez

Showing they are the best

By Roger Childs

Auckland ITU

The ITU World Triathlon Series kicked off in the city of sails last Sunday, in beautiful late summer weather. Thousands turned out on the streets and wharves of downtown Auckland to see the best in the world competing in the first of eight 2014 events.

There was added interest for Kiwi competitors, as a top eight finish would guarantee them a place in the New Zealand Commonwealth Games team. However there were no surprises about the winners as Brit Jodie Stimpson and Spaniard Javier Gomez, the top ranked triathletes, cruised to comfortable victories.

A challenging course

The standard distance triathlon comprises

  • 1.5km swimming: 2 laps
  • 40km cycling: 8 laps
  • 10km running: 4 laps

The swim was between two wharves at the bottom of Queen Street, where spectators were able to get a superb view of the unfolding first leg.

Then it was onto the bike for eight demanding laps of cycling. There were three significant climbs on each lap which was much to the liking of the Kiwi competitors. The running leg was largely flat with a gentle half kilometre downhill to the finish on the wharves.

Stimpson uses Kiwi cyclists to win!

That is definitely one of the toughest courses. I mean that’s what the Kiwis are known for. They are awesome riders and it was great to be in a breakaway with those girls today. Jodie Stimpson

Kate McIlroy and Nicky Samuels were always going to be strong on the hilly cycling leg and made a break on lap four. Knowing she was a faster runner, Jodie Stimpson saw her chance to steal the race and latched on to the Kiwis. The three started the run leg about half a minute ahead of the chasing pack and it was now a “no contest”.

Stimpson

Stimpson quickly opened up a gap on the New Zealanders and was never threatened by the faster runners in the field. She cruised to a 25 second win over last year’s winner German Anne Haug. Returning from a long spell off with an injury that required surgery, former world champion, Helen Jenkins, was third.

The hard luck story of the day belonged to Gwen Jorgensen, who is by far the fastest woman runner in world triathlon. She was in the second bunch on the cycle leg and was unlucky to come down in a crash. The mishap probably cost her at least a minute and although she had the fastest run by 63 seconds, she could only manage 12th place, 2 minutes behind the winner.

McIlroy finished 13th and Samuels 15th, well ahead of the other New Zealanders in the field. While these placings did not guarantee them games selection, it will not have done their chances of going to Glasgow any harm.

Gomez shows why he is the world’s best

All the experts picked Gomez and Jonathan Brownlee to be too good for the rest of the men’s field. And so it proved. They were both in the front bunch on the cycle and within 200m of the run they were pulling away.

Gomez

In a repeat of last year’s race, Gomez opened up a gap in the last lap and Brownlee couldn’t respond. The Spaniard won by 21 seconds. He was delighted: It was another great race here in New Zealand.

Australia has a new breed of young triathletes in

  • Aaron Royle
  • Dan Wilson
  • Ryan Bailie.

The trio is likely to feature prominently in the Commonwealth Games and showed their class in Auckland by filling third, fourth and fifth places.

The top Kiwi was Ryan Sissons who finished about 50 metres back from the Australians.  His sixth place cemented his selection for Glasgow. Relative newcomer to the ranks of elite triathletes, Tom Davison, showed his class on the bike by riding the fastest cycle leg and towing fellow Kiwi Sissons up to the leading bunch in the fifth lap.

The next ITU event is in Capetown over the last weekend in April.