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Switzerland Crowned Top Triathlon Nation At Hy-Vee

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Switzerland reigned supreme to win the ITU triathon title at Hy-Vee.
Switzerland reigns supreme and wins the ITU triathon title at Hy-Vee. Photo: Delly Carr

West Des Moines, USA (June 28, 2009) – Switzerland is on top of the world today after winning the 2009 Hy-Vee ITU Triathlon Team World Championships. The young Swiss team showed their speed out kicking many of the sport’s veterans including past and present Olympic and world champions. The four person team consisting of Magali di Marco, Ruedi Wild, Daniela Ryf and Lukas Salvisberg crossed the line first with a winning time of 1 hour 20 minutes and 56 seconds. Only nine seconds ahead of race favourites Australia in second and 35 seconds ahead of Canada in third.

Seventeen teams representing ten countries contested the new mixed relay format world championships today. As part of a bid to gain an additional triathlon competition in the Olympic Games, this was the first staging of the mixed team relay format. The format consists of four athletes, two men and two women, each completing a mini-triathlon of a 250-metre swim, 6.6-kilometre bike and 1.6-kilometre run on their own before tagging their next athlete. Teams must sequence their athletes as woman-man-woman-man. The first team across the finish line is the winner.

After the opening leg where the women stayed relatively close to one another, entering the first exchange it was New Zealand I (NZL I) with Andrea Hewitt and Australia I (AUS I) with Emma Moffatt side by side with a slight gap on the rest of the field. Where Kris Gemmell (NZL I) was first to hit the water, Courtney Atkinson (AUS I) was quick to reel in the Kiwi and exiting the water already had an 11 second gap. Despite having to make it on his own during the bike leg, Atkinson continued to put time on the field averaging close to 50km/hr on the straight sections for the short 6.6-kilometre course. Brent McMahon (CAN I) was the only one to cut into Atkinson’s lead on the run and bring his team into second place ahead of Gemmell.

Olympic Champion Emma Snowsill would take the handoff from Atkinson and increase Australia’s lead through the swim on chasers Kathy Tremblay (CAN I) and Samantha Warriner (NZL I). But the move of the day came from cycling powerhouse Daniela Ryf of Switzerland I, posting the fastest women’s bike split by almost 30 seconds, catching and passing everyone including the slight Aussie after five kilometres, moving herself into first place for the run. By the end of the 1.6 kilometres, however, Snowsill would catch Ryf and they entered the last exchange together handing off to their teammates Brad Kahlefeldt and Lukas Salvisberg. Snowsill and Ryf had done the damage though, opening an insurmountable gap on chasers Tremblay and Sarah Haskins of USA I. Warriner and New Zealand I would drop back to sixth.

“I gave it everything on the bike and it was great to drop Emma [Snowsill], but then she caught me up on the run,” said Ryf. “I told Lukas just to ignore the others and to run his own race; and he was our star today.”

Kahlefeldt and Salvisberg held their lead on the chasers over the short swim and bike sections leaving the top of the podium to be decided amongst them selves. Even though Kahlefeldt remained tucked behind the young Swiss athlete for the entire run, when Salvisberg started his finishing kick 300 metres from the line, the Aussie veteran could not respond leaving team Switzerland to take the honours of top triathlon nation in 2009. Canada’s anchor man Simon Whitfield would hold off USA’s Matt Reed to grab the bronze for team Canada.

“Brad [Kahlefeldt] was playing with me on the bike and run so I decided just to work really hard and keep the pace hard,” commented Salvisberg. “He kept surging but I put my head down and gave it everything; I didn’t know I had such a good sprint!”

Lauren Groves of Canada added:
“That felt a lot harder than yesterday, it was a complete burn up on tired legs. I was at absolute maximum for twenty minutes but it was a lot of fun.”

Emma Moffatt of Australia:
“I was really up for today, it’s such an exciting race format and I was really looking forward to it.”

Emma Snowsill of Australia:
“Daniela [Ryf] was incredible, but I’m disappointed I couldn’t stay with her on the bike and I feel that might have cost us the race. But all in all we’ve had a great week racing in Washington DC and here in Des Moines and we can go home happy.”

2009 Hy-Vee ITU Triathlon Team World Championships
4 x [250m swim, 6.6km bike, 1.6km run]
Official Results
Gold – SWITZERLAND I 1:20:56

[Magali di Marco, Ruedi Wild, Daniela Ryf, Lukas Salvisberg]

Silver – AUSTRALIA I 1:21:05 +:09

[Emma Moffatt, Courtney Atkinson, Emma Snowsill, Brad Kahlefeldt]

Bronze – CANADA I 1:21:31 +:35

[Lauren Groves, Brent McMahon, Kathy Tremblay, Simon Whitfield]

4th – USA I 1:21:53 +:57

[Laura Bennett, Jarrod Shoemaker, Sarah Haskins, Matt Reed]

5th – CANADA II 1:22:31 +1:35

[Paula Findlay, Kyle Jones, Marianne Hogan, Andrew McCartney]

6th – NEW ZEALAND I 1:23:03 +2:07

[Andrea Hewitt, Kris Gemmell, Samantha Warriner, Bevan Docherty]

7th – RUSSIA I 1:23:37 +2:41

[Olga Dmitrieva, Ivan Vasiliev, Anastasia Polyanskaya, Artem Parienko]

8th – UKRAINE I 1:23:43 +2:47

[Yuliya Sapunova, Andrey Glouschenko, Olasya Pristayko, Daniil Sapunov]

9th – NEW ZEALAND II 1:24:07 +3:11

[Kate McIlroy, Clark Ellice, Rebecca Spence, Ryan Sissons]

10th – JAPAN I 1:24:38 +3:42

[Mariko Adachi, Ryosuke Yamamoto, Ai Ueda, Yuichi Hosoda]

Official full field results will be available here

The race was a new relay format: 4x [250-metre swim, 6.6-kilometer bike, 1.6-kilometer run]  Click here for more event information.

Up Next: Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Series, Kitzbuehel, Austria, July 10/11, 2009. Live coverage will be available at