The Elite Women’s Race
Chilean Barbara Riveros Diaz has continued her stellar start to season 2011 by running away with the women’s Ishigaki ITU World Cup title in Japan.
Riveros Diaz claimed bronze in the first ITU World Cup of the season in Mooloolaba, before finishing second behind Canadian Paula Findlay in the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Sydney race last weekend.
But she came in as the highest-ranked female at Ishigaki and didn’t disappoint, proving unbeatable once she had established a lead on the run to top the podium for the first time in 2011. Ireland’s Aileen Morrison claimed silver, while three-time Olympian and defending Ishigaki champion Kiyomi Niwata (JPN) made a late charge to claim bronze.
The race was the first in Japan since the devastating earthquake last month and athletes, officials and fans observed a minutes silence for the victims of the tragedy. Afterwards, Riveros Diaz said she hoped she had brought a smile to the nation.
“My victory is for everyone, giving love and happiness,” Riveros Diaz said. “I was a little tired from the last race, but have to be smart and manage myself to get to the finish line. The atmosphere was amazing. Even if I wasn’t Japanese, they were cheering me.”
The race started in almost perfect conditions, 28 degrees celsius in the air and 23 in the water, and the attacks started right from the swim.
Kerry Lang (GBR), Line Jensen (DEN), Radka Vodickova (CZE) and Eri Kawashima (JPN) broke away in the water and took their lead into the bike. Coming into fourth lap, the group has a sizeable 30-second gap. But the chase that included Riveros Diaz, Morrison, Mariko Adachi (JPN) and Kirsten Sweetland (CAN) turned on the pace and within a lap had caught them. A total of 30 athletes then hit transition together.
But that mass run group didn’t last for long as Riveros Diaz made her move in the first lap, from there her incredibly efficient strides took her lead further on each hilly lap heading into the finish. A chase group that included Morrison, Niwata, Erin Densham (AUS) and Marina Damlaimcourt (ESP) tried to catch her but to no avail.
Morrison did pull away from the bunch in the final lap, to add another world cup podium to her quickly growing ITU resume, and said she couldn’t have been happier.
“Absolutely fantastic and delighted to stand on the podium,” she said. “A lovely place to do a race, in Ishigaki. Fantastic people, fantastic course. It was really hard, yet loved it and am delighted I finished second.”
Veteran Niwata, who ran side-by-side with Damlaimcourt in the final lap, just managed to outsprint the Spainard to claim a podium place for Japan at home. She said the crowd had played a big role in her bronze.
“I didn’t think of getting on the podium or winning the race,” Niwata said. “I was neck to neck chasing third place, but people were saying to me “Get, podium! Get podium!,” I think Ishigaki people love me a lot and look after me. I love the island bananas too.”
“That was unfortunate! I don’t train for that kind of performance. That was pretty much 2 hr Sunday jog pace! Body not quite ready I suppose,” tweeted Sweetland about her inability to keep pace with the lead runners. “Even though it wasn’t my day I have to thank the city of Ishigakijima for an incredible event!”
Top 10 Women
1. Barbara Riveros Diaz (CHI) 2:01:57
2. Aileen Morrison (IRL) 2:02:20
3. Kiyomi Niwata (JPN) 2:02:34
4. Marina Damlaimcourt (ESP) 2:02:45
5. Erin Densham (AUS) 2:02:59
6. Maria Czesnik (POL) 2:03:15
7. Jillian Petersen (USA) 2:03:20
8. Line Jensen (DEN) 2:03:23
9. Akane Tsuchihashi (JPN) 2:03:25
10. Non Stanford (GBR) 2:03:39
23. Kirsten Sweetland (CAN) 2:04:43
The Elite Men’s Race
American Hunter Kemper finally found gold and the World Cup podium also welcomed two brand new medallists in a thrilling men’s race in Ishigaki.
In a race that had plenty of breaks and surprises, it was the three-time Olympian, Russian Artem Parienko and Poland’s Marek Jaskolka who came away with the medals and a slice of history in Ishigaki.
For Kemper, that was recording his first World Cup win since 2005. It was the first World Cup medal for both Parienko, who claimed silver, and Jaskolka, who claimed bronze.
Jaskolka’s medal also has a special place in ITU history, it was the first World Cup medal won by a Polish triathlete.
Kemper’s win was even sweeter given he had finished second twice in Ishigaki, 2005 and 2006, both times behind five-time winner Courtney Atkinson (AUS).
But Atkinson was not racing in 2011 and Kemper said before the race he would take advantage of his absence. He did that in emphatic style, as well as his first World Cup win in six-years, he was the first American to win Ishigaki in its 16-year history.
Kemper said it felt good to be back on top, particularly after two seasons struck with injury.
“I was second in 2006 to Courtney Atkinson, and as you know he does well on this course, but it felt good to finally come through with a victory,” Kemper said.
“It’s my second race of the year, and it feels good to win in Ishigaki. It’s a beautiful place. I’ve had injuries for the past two years–it’s been very difficult since Beijing in 2008, and this is my first World Cup win in a while. So it feels good to be back on top of the podium, and win here in Ishigaki in front of the Japanese people, who have dealt with so much the past month or six weeks, it feels good to celebrate even if just for a few hours.”
Jaskolka has been competing on the ITU World Cup circuit since 2003 and had reached the podium in European Cup and Pan American Cup events, but his best result at a World Cup had been seventh. He claimed that result three-times, in 2008 Tongyeong, 2006 Tiszaujvaros and 2007 Madrid. Jasolka represented Poland at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, but failed to finish.
“Yeah, it’s amazing,” Jaskolka said. “After two years of sickness and injuries, I’m back. I’m really surprised that I got third here. It was such a strong field. I’m just happy. Three weeks ago, I raced in Valparaiso for an Pan American Cup, and I applied the same strategy. I just stayed behind the other guys and waited for the last lap, because it’s my strongest lap, and it worked out.”
Parienko made the jump to the elite men from junior’s in 2007, and since then has reached the podium at several European Cup events, but had never finished higher than 9th in a World Cup race.
“The finish was very hard. I had to run much faster, and I was able to take second place,” Parienko said.
The men’s race started in a cloudy afternoon in Ishigaki, which is the longest running World Cup in ITU history, and it was the Russian brothers Ivan Vasiliev and Denis Vasiliev who set a quick pace. They were joined by fellow Russian’s Vladimir Turbaevskiy and Igor Polyanskiy and Hirokatsu Tayama (JPN) and Andrea Salvisberg (SUI) in the first group out of transition.
But the Vasiliev’s decided to take the race into their own hands and quickly broke away.
In the second lap of the bike, Jens Toft (DEN) pulled away from the main pack and joined the Russian brothers in the lead. The top group of three made an escape and gained 50 seconds gap against the main pack of 40 athletes coming into transition.
But as it turned out, 50 seconds was not enough to edge out the top runners. Kemper and Spainard Ivan Rana (ESP) caught the leaders on the first lap of run before Kemper took the lead solo in the second lap and held it until the finish.
The other podium spots were undecided right until the very end. Rana, who was close behind Kemper almost the whole final lap, was outsprinted in the final 400 metres as Parienko flew down the main stretch and edged out Jaskolka in a thrilling finish.
The Ishigaki ITU Triathlon World Cup is the longest running ITU World Cup event, having been held every year since 1996. The island, approximately 2,000km southwest of Tokyo, has become a triathlon mecca in Japan. Before the women’s race, over 1,600 triathletes from all over the region participated in the age-group races.
Top 10 Men
1. Hunter Kemper (USA) 1:50:32
2. Artem Parienko (RUS) 1:50:47
3. Marek Jaskolka (POL) 1:50:49
4. Ivan Rana (ESP) 1:50:56
5. Joao Pereira (POR) 1:50:59
6. Ramon Ejeda Medina (ESP) 1:51:02
7. Jens Toft (DEN) 1:51:05
8. Ryan Fisher (AUS) 1:51:09
9. Jan Celustka (CZE) 1:51:13
10. Martin Van Barneveld (NZL) 1:51:15