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Brownlee, Hewitt Win Round Two of 2009 Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Series Race

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Hewitt and Norden lunge for the finish line. Photo provided by Triathlon.org.
Hewitt and Norden lunge for the finish line. Photo provided by Triathlon.org.

The 2009 Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Series continued its exciting start to the year with some breathtaking races at round two in Madrid, Spain.

Andrea Hewitt outsprinted four other competitors to win in a photo finish ahead of Sweden’s Lisa Norden in the women’s race, while talented young Brit, Alistair Brownlee, put himself on the map with a dominant performance in the men’s competition.

Hewitt and Norden crossed the line together in 2:05:58 with the last ditch effort paying off for the Kiwi who suffered at the opening race of the series in Tongyeong when she crashed early on the cycle leg. Jessica Harrison from France finished in third just one second behind, with Germany’s Christiane Pilz and Sarah Haskins from the USA trailing in having run most of the 10km together.

Haskins was the first out of the swim along with compatriot Sarah Groff along with the Japanese pairing of Adachi and Ide and Harrison from France. Australia’s Annabel Luxford was also towards the fore and she broke early on the bike with Haskins as they led for the opening couple of laps around the Caso de Campo park.

Renowned strong cyclists, Lisa Norden and Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf, pulled the chasing pack back to the leaders, however the increase in pace fronted by an attacking Vanessa Raw from Great Britain, dropped both the reigning world champion, Helen Jenkins from Wales and Tongyeong bronze medallist, Ide as they suffered over the hilly course.

Exiting for the run the lead pack of 13 held an insurmountable 1:37 advantage over the chasers group which included an exasperated 2008 world cup series champion, Samantha Warriner from New Zealand. The Kiwi had worked tirelessly to try and bridge the gap to the leaders and carried that mindset onto the run as she clocked the fastest split time to run from 14th up to seventh.

At the front both Norden and Hewitt went straight to the fore; however repeated surges from Haskins, Harrison and Pilz ensured the front five stayed ahead of the chasing Swiss pairing of Ryf and Di Marco Messmer. Their order remained the same until the closing stages when Hewitt and Norden launched their attacks as the athletes entered the finishing chute.

Norden’s height advantage and longer stride length pulled her away from Hewitt, however the New Zealander rallied in the final few metres to clinch victory with a last ditch effort reminiscent of compatriot Bevan Docherty’s victory in Tongyeong at the opening Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Series fixture. The top two waited momentarily for final confirmation of the result by the ITU technical officials after analysis of the photo finish imagery.

“I’ve never been in a photo finish before,” said Hewitt. “We ran together for the whole run, pacing off each other. The Kiwis have had a great start to the season and we’re just going to keep going for the rest of the season like this.”

Norden was equally pleased with her result having missed the start of the season with injury. “I didn’t have any expectations going into the race,” she admitted. “I had two weeks of running build up, but have been doing lots of swimming and biking, and that was in place today. I was feeling pretty good on the last lap and tried to give energy for the sprint, but Andrea came up really fast on the inside. I gave it everything. I surprised myself on the run; I’m very happy with the outcome.”

Although the men’s race lacked the excitement of a sprint finish it too provided some exceptionally compelling competition as 2008 world champion, Javier Gomez, returned to the Caso de Campo in front of an expectant home crowd.

Having acquired an ankle injury following the Olympic Games in Beijing, Gomez had been out of shape in recent weeks, finishing second behind Russia’s Dmitry Polyansky at the European Cup race in his hometown of Pontevedra, and so elected to push the pace on the swim and bike to establish an advantage.

The Russian quartet of Polyansky, Brukhankov and the Vasiliev brothers, Ivan and Denis, were more than happy to oblige with their fair share of the opening work as they carved apart the swim and formed an early break away on the cycle. Along with them went Australian veteran Courtney Atkinson who started his season with wins at the Mooloolaba and Ishigaki World Cup races, Germany’s Maik Petzold and Brownlee who made up part of an eleven man pack.

Brownlee was never content to sit and wait for the chasers to make contact and launched repeat attacks to up the tempo forcing the athletes around him to work hard in keeping the pace honest. With indecision and reluctance in the following group to expend the valuable energy to close down the early advantage, the leaders were able to increase their time advantage to over 90 seconds, a time they were able to maintain throughout the bike.

Behind it was Britain’s Tim Don who did much of the legwork along with Beijing Olympic gold medallist, Jan Frodeno from Germany. Tongyeong runner-up, Brad Kahlefeldt from Australia also sat towards the fore as they were caught by the smaller second chase pack which included the USA’s Jarrod Shoemaker.

With the leaders arriving in second transition with a 1:27 advantage the podium positions were already out of reach for the chasers with Kahlefeldt posting the best performance to move up into ninth with Frodeno in tenth.

However the crowd’s attention was affixed firmly on the flying Brownlee who exited transition with such grit and determination that he had opened up a 24 second advantage after the first of the four 2.5km laps. The relaxed running style took him away from the chasing Gomez, Atkinson and Petzold who looked to struggle in the increasing heat in comparison with the young Brit.

Gomez worked hard and finally dropped Petzold after 7.5km, however the relentless Atkinson held on to the Spaniard’s coattails as he sat in for a sprint finish.

Brownlee could afford to cruise to the finish as he crossed the line in 1:51:27, some 48 seconds ahead of the Aussie who kicked early to beat the home favourite by just five seconds. Petzold held on for fourth with Ivan Vasiliev in fifth.

“It was the perfect race for me really,” said Brownlee, the reigning under 23 world champion. “Everything seemed to go right from the start, I couldn’t believe it. I had a fantastic swim next to Vasiliev and he just took me from there. The first two bike laps were really hard as we settled into a good group and someone said we had 45 seconds and I thought ‘where did that come from?’; and then when it was 1:30. I couldn’t believe it.

“I went off on the run and I thought, ‘right I’m going to make this hard after the tough bike’ and before I knew it I had thirty seconds. I thought I was going to blow up on that last lap, but it was great to hold on.”

Atkinson was pleased with his second place: “It panned out as well as I could have imagined,” he exclaimed. “With the early break on the bike I really pushed hard to make sure it stuck, and then went for it on the run. Alistair had an amazing race and we’ve good a bit of work to do to get up to him. It’s great to see the young guys racing like that.”

“It was very hard but I am happy with my third,” admitted Gomez. “This winter was very hard with no running. I only started a month ago and now I think I’m only at 70%, so to hit the podium was amazing. It was largely thanks to the support from the crowd here in Madrid – thank you to Spain!”

“I know I will only get better and so I will next race in Washington and will run faster, and then try to be 100% for the European races in the summer and hope to catch Alistair.”

In the overall standings 2009 Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Rankings Switzerland’s Magali Di Marco Messmer moved into the top position on the women’s side as her sixth place finish combined with seventh in the opening leg in Tongyeong, Korea gave her a total of 1043 points, just 19 points ahead of the consistent Jessica Harrison from France. Australia’s Emma Moffatt drops one place to third with 1018 points as her early season second place finish at the Mooloolaba ITU World Cup was added to the overall score.

A seventh place finish in Madrid, combined with his bronze medal in Tongyeong moves Dmitry Polyansky from Russia ahead of New Zealand’s Bevan Docherty to as he leads the men’s standings with 1186pts. That places him 17 points ahead of Australia’s Brad Kahlefeldt with fellow Aussie Atkinson moving into third.

The next race in the 2009 Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Series takes place in Washington, DC on June 21.

2009 Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship

Women’s Rankings After Race Two of Eight

1. Magali Di Marco Messmer (SUI) 1043pts

2. Jessica Harrison (FRA) 1024pts

3. Emma Moffatt (AUS) 1018pts

4. Juri Ide (JPN) 985ts

5. Samantha Warriner (NZL) 965pts

2009 Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship

Men’s Rankings After Race Two of Eight

1. Dmitry Polyansky (RUS) 1186pts

2. Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS) 1169pts

3. Courtney Atkinson (AUS) 1137pts

4. Alexander Brukhankov (RUS) 1043pts

5. Kris Gemmell (NZL) 911pts

2009 Madrid Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship

1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run

Elite Women – Official Results

Gold – Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 2:05:58

Silver – Lisa Norden (SWE) 2:05:58 +0:01

Bronze – Jessica Harrison (FRA) 2:05:59 +0:02

4th – Christiane Pilz (GER) 2:06:02 +0:05

5th – Sarah Haskins (USA) 2:06:04 +0:07

6th – Magali D Marco Messmer (SUI) 2:06:18 +0:21

7th – Samantha Warriner (NZL) 2:06:45 +0:48

8th – Daniela Ryf (SUI) 2:06:52 +0:55

9th – Sarah Groff (USA) 2:07:25 +1:28

10th – Ai Ueda (JPN) 2:07:31 +1:34

2009 Madrid Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship

1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run

Elite Men – Official Results

Gold – Alistair Brownlee (GBR) 1:51:27

Silver – Courtney Atkinson (AUS) 1:52:14 +0:48

Bronze -Javier Gomez (ESP) 1:52:19 +0:53

4th – Maik Petzold (GER) 1:52:32 +1:06

5th – Ivan Vasiliev (RUS) 1:52:39 +1:13

6th – Alexander Brukhankov (RUS) 1:52:45 +1:18

7th – Dmitry Polyansky (RUS) 1:53:08 +1:41

8th – Christian Prochnow (GER) 1:53:17 +1:50

9th – Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS) 1:53:18 +1:52

10th – Jan Frodeno (GER) 2:53:19 +1:53