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Matt Chrabot stepped onto the top step of an ITU Triathlon World Cup podium for the first time in Mexico with an impressive victory in the Pacific coastal town of Huatulco. Crossing the line in 1:57:22, the US national champion held off Ruidi Wild from Switzerland to take the win with compatriot Jarrod Shoemaker in third.
Despite the morning start the men faced high temperatures as the sun rose over the Pacific, and the swim provided no let up with a hard pace being pushed from the onset by Dustin McLarty from the USA; however despite his hard graft he was unable to take advantage as a large pack of 32 athletes came together early on the bike as a tactical race developed.
Making his move at half way on the cycle 2009 USA national champion Matt Chrabot hit the front and quickly opened up a large lead of 1:20 over the diminishing chase pack which was reduced down to twelve athletes as the heat and hills took their toll on the field. Ruidi Wild from Switzerland also fancied his chances and broke away, but could not catch the flying American.
Chrabot proceeded to put two minutes into Wild and four into the chasers to give himself an seemingly unassailable lead going onto the 10km run. Wild chased hard but could not make any inroads whilst Shoemaker comfortably dropped the other athletes around him to seal a podium place ahead of Danylo Sapunov from the Ukraine. The Mexican crowd were delighted to see Francisco Serrano take sixth following a competitive race for the Beijing Olympian.
“I went out on a suicide mission today,” said Chrabot. “It was so hot and so hilly it made it really tough, but I took my chances and I really like this course. I grew up for a few years in the Philippines which means I like the heat, and I knew if I was going to win I had to go for it on the bike. Two years ago I did a similar thing in Mexico at the Pan American Championships in Mazatlan and won, so I thought I’d try the tactic again.”
“I’ve been doing a lot of cycle training to get strong so I thought I’d put it to use today,” said Wild. “I didn’t expect to be on the podium so I’m really pleased; I thought I might slow down a lot on the run and the final lap was tough trying to stay ahead of Shoemaker.”
“This year’s race here was definitely hotter than 2008,” commented Shoemaker. “I had my two best races this season in the cold and rain so maybe I need to train for the heat a bit more, but to be on the podium here for the second year running is really great.”
1. Matt Chrabot USA 1:57:22
2. Ruedi Wild SUI 1:59:32
3. Jarrod Shoemaker USA 2:01:02
4. Danylo Sapunov UKR 2:01:28
5. Ivan Tutukin RUS 2:01:44
Ai Ueda took her first ITU Triathlon World Cup win of the year in Huatulco, Mexico, as the Japanese double Asian champion stretched away in the late stages of the race to cross the line in 2:12:47, ahead of Denmark’s Helle Frederiksen and Jessica Harrison from France.
The race started on the Pacific coast with a short run to the water from the beach. Sara McLarty from the USA made good use of her swimming pedigree to carve open a healthy lead as she took the $500 swim prime on her way to exiting the water some 45 seconds clear of the large chase pack of eight which included the podium finishers.
Once onto the tough cycle course the chasers worked well in bringing down McLarty’s early advantage and caught the American on lap three of eight. With nine women away they were able to build a healthy advantage over the second pack with home support backing Claudia Rivas who put together a strong race against world class opposition. Towards the end of the cycle stage Canada’s Alicia Kaye was dropped by the leaders, however the top eight held a 1:40 advantage over European under 23 champion Yuliya Sapunova from the Ukraine and Germany’s talented under 23 athlete, Rebecca Robisch as they headed onto the 10km run.
The top three positions were decided early on with Ueda matching Frederiksen and Harrison stride for stride. The 2008 Asian triathlon champion enjoyed a better race having failed to make the front swim pack in her previous competitions during the 2009 season, and she was able to pull away on the second of the four run laps to take an impressive win.
Frederiksen and Harrison were neck and neck until the final kilometre when the Dane managed to pull away to take second place. Robisch ran through for fourth with Sapunova fifth.
“I’m very happy,” said a delighted Ueda. “I’ve been practicing my swim training every day and I finally made the front pack; that won me the race today. Now I want to start the 2010 season with a podium finish in Sydney at the first race of the Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Series in Australia.”
“Jess [Harrison] and I have been really close this year and we really push each other,” explained Frederiksen. “I’ve had a bad year with two crashes so it’s nice to finish my season with a podium place finish and show people what I can do.”
“It’s been a long year for me, but I’ve been working on my cycling and running and wanted to put them to good use before finishing my season,” said Harrison. “Now I think it’s time for some piña coladas and a rest before next year!”
1. Ai Ueda JPN 2:12:47
2. Helle Frederiksen DEN 2:13:13
3. Jessica Harrison FRA 2:13:29
4. Rebecca Robisch GER 2:14:11
5. Yuliya Sapunova UKR 2:15:41