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France’s Carole Peon overcame brutal conditions on a challenging course to seize her first ITU World Cup title in a thrilling finish in Guatape, Colombia today. Japan’s Tomoko Sakimoto closed out a strong performance to take silver while Spain’s Zurine Rodriguez recorded her second straight World Cup podium with bronze.
“It’s just amazing to (win) here in this altitude, it’s just so great,” said Peon. “It was a hard race and I am really really happy.”
Heavy overnight rains caused a landslide, blocking half the bike course which forced race officials to reduce the race to a sprint distance – 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run. The rain did not relent as the women stepped onto the start pontoon amidst miserably cold and wet conditions.
Brazil’s Pamela Nascimento Oliveira was first out of the water with Margit Vanek (HUN) and Line Jensen(DEN). Also not far behind were a host of contenders including Vicky Holland (GBR) and Mariko Adachi (JPN) and Juri Ide (JPN). Peon was also in that front pack from the swim and biked in the lead group made up of about 16 women including many of the pre-race favourites.
Once out onto the run course, Peon made a break early on with Adachi. But Adachi, the reigning Asian Games gold medallist, couldn’t hang on to Peon’s impressive pace and soon faded back. But it wasn’t long before another Japanese athlete, Sakimoto, challenged Peon for the lead
But Peon, who’s returning from injury, refused to back down and stayed in the lead for good. She cruised to the finish line to celebrate the first World Cup title of her career.