Spain’s Javier Gomez claimed the ITU Grand Final victory in one of the best series finishes to date with a thrilling sprint over Great Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee. But Brownlee was crowned the 2012 ITU Triathlon World Champion after finishing atop the ITU World Triathlon Series rankings.
Sven Riederer finished third in the Grand Final race, but Dmitry Polyanskiy’s seventh spot was enough to secure him third in the series overall.
The junior men’s and women’s races both saw historic results, with Fukima Matsumoto and Wian Sullwald becoming the first ITU World Champions for Japan and South Africa respectively. In the junior women’s race, Matsumoto executed a perfectly timed run to beat France’s Leonie Periault and the USA’s Tamara Gordon.
In pouring rain in the junior men’s, Sullwald was in the lead group from start to finish and ended up with a comfortable 14 seconds win over of France’s Simon Viain and Ireland’s Constantine Doherty, the first ITU World Championship medallist from Ireland.
Elite Men’s Review
The race was set up as an all-star clash of triathlon titans and Javier Gomez (ESP) and Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) did not disappoint today in Auckland against tough, wet conditions.
With the 2012 ITU World Championship at stake, the Olympic medallists produced one of the most exciting finishes in ITU World Triathlon Series history. With three lead changes in the final three hundred metres, Gomez charged to his first ITU Grand Final victory and finished the season as the overall World Championships silver medallist.
“I had a feeling I had something left on the last lap,” said Gomez. “So I waited for my moment and maybe with 200 metres to go, I said ‘okay now we go with everything as fast as I can’, and it worked well.”
Brownlee settled for second place after being out-sprinted by Gomez, but the podium finish was more than enough to secure his first elite World Championship, ensuring the title stays in the family after his brother Alistair won in 2011.
“It’s great to keep the title in the family, pretty special,” said Brownlee. “It was a tough day. I thought when work up this morning that the weather was bad and it was going to be a hard pure triathlon and that’s what it was.”
While the overall gold and silver were locked up, bronze was very much up for grabs and the battle came down to Sven Riederer (SUI) and Dmitry Polyanskiy (RUS). While Riederer took the final spot on the Grand Final podium, the Russian claimed World Championship bronze after his seventh place finish gave him just enough points to finish the series in third.
2012 Barfoot&Thompson ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Auckland
1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run – Final Results – Elite Men
2012 ITU World Triathlon Series – Final Rankings, Elite Men
Junior Women’s Review
The day of World Championship races opened with a bit of triathlon history and a tale of redemption for Japan’s Fumika Matsumoto. The pint-size junior dominated torrid conditions to claim her place in history in Auckland on Sunday, pulling away at the top of the finishing straight to claim the 2012 ITU Triathlon Junior World Championship.
Matsumoto surged ahead of France’s Leonie Periault and the USA’s Tamara Gordon with less than 100 metres left to become the first Japanese ITU World Champion across the elite, U23 and junior levels.
Matsumoto said afterwards she was driven by a poor performance in the same race at the world championships in Beijing last year, where she was lapped and failed to finish.
“I can’t believe it, I’m so happy,” she said. “Last year in Beijing I was very very disappointed, and I worked very hard for the past year to avenge last year and I did my best today.”
The day started with another wetsuit swim, and the Netherlands’ Maya Kingma exited the water first and formed a small breakaway with Portugal’s Luisa Condeso, Russia’s Anastasia Gorbunova and Gorman.
But a group led by defending junior world champion Mikayla Nielsen (NZL) and that included Sophie Coldwell (GBR), Maddie Dillon (NZL), Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR), Matsumoto and Periault helped reel them in and form a big lead pack of 23 at the end of the first lap.
But with the pace increasing at the front, that group shrunk to 16 by the halfway mark of the 20km bike, as Canada’s Amelie Kretz, Germany’s Sarah Wilm and Suse Werner and Matsumoto all took turns at the front to put time on the chase.
That group stayed intact until the start of the run which set up an impressive battle, given it contained five 2012 junior continental championship medallists and the defending champion in Nielsen. But Nielsen fell off the pace and eventually did not finish, and instead it was Gorman, Wilm, Dillon, Periault and Matsumoto who quickly assumed the lead.
In the final few hundred metres it was the 2012 Asian junior women’s champion Matsumoto who showed her strength, easily striding away from the field to her and Japan’s first world title.
2012 Auckland ITU Junior World Championships
750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run – Final Results – Junior Women
Junior Men’s Review
South Africa’s Wian Sullwald’s solid all-round performance in dismal conditions helped him win the 2012 ITU Triathlon Junior World Championship, and add another highlight in a history making day in Auckland.
Sullwald was part of a eight-man lead group for most of the bike leg before he ran clear of France’s Simon Viain and Ireland’s Constantine Doherty on the second of two 2.5km laps to become the first ITU World Champion from Africa at the junior, U23 and elite level. Doherty also became the first ITU World Championship medallist from Ireland.
Sullwald said his story was also one of redemption after years of bad luck.
“It’s a dream come true for me since I started racing world triathlon,” Sullwald said. “Every year a junior I’ve been having bad luck at worlds and you know I said since the beginning of the year my focus was this race. Every training session I’ve been thinking about this race and it paid off today.”
The rain was already pouring when the men entered the water for their 750m swim, and Sullwald was one of the first out just behind France’s Dorian Connix, Great Britain’s Gorden Benson, Japan’s Ryosuke Maeda and Norway’s Jorgen Gunderson.
But it was the rain-slicked bike leg that made the difference in this race and an initial group of over 20 was whittled down to 12 at the end of the first lap. Then the group was narrowed to eight at the halfway mark, as both the conditions and the tough course claimed victims.
But with Doherty riding fearlessly off the front, Benson, Sullwald, Viain, Kristian Blummenfelt, Marcel Walkington, Ryosuke Maeda and Shiruba Taniguchi sat in just behind and worked to increase the lead back to the chase.
Doherty entered and exited T2 first but was pulled in by Sullwald on the first lap. From there the South African cruised to the win by 14 seconds, in the biggest margin across all six ITU World Championship races in Auckland this weekend. While that result looked secure for the majority of the run, it came down to the final few steps to decide the rest of the medals as Viain just found the extra burst to claim silver.
2012 Auckland ITU Junior World Championships
750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run – Final Results – Junior Men
|8.||Jorik van Egdom||NED||01:02:59|
|Men’s Elite World Championships
18. Andrew Yorke 2:03:28
Junior Women World Championships
13. Gabrielle Edwards 1:14:40
37. Samantha Klus 1:19:00
Junior Men World Championships
25. Tyler Mislawchuk 1:05:91
36. Gabriel Legault 1″05:58
DNF. Alexis Lepage
The 2012 ITU Barfoot&Thomson World Triathlon Grand Final Auckland continues with the Paratriathlon and Age-Group World Championships on Monday. Read more about Monday’s events.