Anne Haug (GER) continued on in 2013 where she left off last year, the 2012 World Triathlon Series grand final winner taking out the opening ITU World Cup of the year in a hot and windy Mooloolaba today.
Haug showed her strength on the bike and run to destroy a quality field, leaving Jodie Stimpson (GBR) and local hope Emma Moffatt (AUS) in second and third place with 2012 world number 3 Andrea Hewitt (NZL) in fourth.
Haug was delighted and more than surprised with her form.
“I wasn’t expecting that at all, I had a really good preparation but I was racing so late last season. I wanted to be in the first bike group so I could save my legs. The run felt really easy for me so for the last part I thought I will go and see if I have another gear and I did so I am really happy, I did not expect that at all.
“I don’t want to save anything on the bike this year though, my main focus this year is to catch up on the swim and then see what happens, you can never plan a race. I had to see which bike group I would get and I got the first group so I was happy with that.”
After a poor swim, Haug had to move quickly through the first transition.
“I concentrated on my transition, it is very important, you can make up a few meters and catch up on the others, I try to go out of T2 in front also so I can go at my pace and not go too hard.
“I dream of being world champion, like everyone if you are second you want to go one better but you can’t influence the others so I will just go as hard as I can and see what the season holds for me.”
Moffat had the locals cheering when she emerged from the swim leg in first place, in the process taking the US$500 bonus. She had good company though, with Hewitt, Rebecca Clarke (NZL), Natalie Van Coevorden (AUS), Simone Ackermann (NZL), Aileen Reid (IRL) and Stimpson (GBR) in the lead group.
Haug was a little slower out of the water but powered across the 175 metre run from the beach to the first transition and then the 60 metre gap to the leaders, ensuring she would not be left stranded in a chase group on the bike. Emma Jackson (AUS) and Maaike Caelers (NED) were not so strong though and settled into the chase.
That move by Haug was put in perspective just one lap into the seven lap 40km bike ride when the leaders came through over a minute clear of the chasers, a gap that would only get bigger as each lap ticked by, had the German not bridged early her race would surely have been over.
Little changed throughout the bike leg and as they headed out on the run it was Haug quickest through transition with the lead group of eight establishing a margin of over 3 and a half minutes over the chase group. It was an impressive ride from the leaders in the hot and windy conditions, the offshore breeze welcomed by the spectators but not the athletes.
The race was over however for Sarah Dueble (AUS), Kathy Rakel (USA) and Mikayla Nielsen (NZL), their brave effort to stay in front of the lead group was to no avail as they were passed on the final lap of the bike and under ITU rules, their day was over.
Eight quickly became four on the run, with Haug, Stimpson, Moffatt and Hewitt showing their class. First to drop was Hewitt, leaving three to fight out the medals with 5km to race. Despite the support of the home fans it was Moffatt who was the next to find the pace too quick, and the race was down to two.
Despite her renowned sprint ability, it was Haug who made the move with just over a kilometre to run, kicking clear of Stimpson to win her first ITU World Cup race, confirming her status as one of the sport’s leading lights.
Stimpson almost felt at home, she is based in Australia with her new coach Darren Smith.
“To be second and on the podium on one of the hardest courses of the year is great. I have like a second family out here so it is awesome to race well in front of them.
“I have a lot to thank my new coach Darren Smith for, he turned me around after the Olympics, gave me a boost and really believed in me I can’t thank him enough. I train with Anne day in day out and I know how strong she is, she is such a machine, if I am running with her I know I am running well. She just had me at the end, I am working on that it is a work in progress.
“I am now off to New Zealand and then San Diego, I really want a strong finish in the World Triathlon Series this year, that is the big goal.”
Moffatt was also pleased to be on the podium again in Mooloolaba, but talked of an elusive win.
“It is always nice to be on the podium, it is a tough race, I think I have had two seconds here before so I will have to come back next year and try to get on top but I am happy with third.
“My shoe was hard to put on in transition and halfway through the first lap my shoe lace came undone, I got it sorted quickly though but yeah, it wasn’t the quickest transition. I ran comfortably in front but then tactics came into the race and I just tried to run within myself and just couldn’t match the pace in the final lap and a half.”