Canada’s Kyle Jones got off to a solid start as many of the world’s top triathletes kicked off the final road to the 2012 Olympic Summer Games, finishing as the top Canadian in eighth spot in Mooloolaba, Australia on Saturday.
Determined to make his Olympic debut in London, the youngest member of the Canadian men’s squad at 27 years of age had one of his best-ever World Cup finishes at the season opener, stopping the clock at one hour, 54 minutes, nine seconds (1:54.09).
“I’m very happy with my result today. This is another step in the right direction heading towards London,” said Jones, who had the first three ITU podium finishes of his career last year when he rattled off three straight Continental Cup victories in Asia.
“The conditions weren’t really a factor today. It was warm and there was some light rain just before the race so the roads were a bit wet on the bike course, but for the most part, my goal was to just stay out of trouble today and I did that.”
Jones, of Oakville, Ont., battled his way into the lead pack early in the 40-kilometre bike after a challenging 1.5-kilometre swim where he exited the water back in the pack of nearly 60 athletes. The young Canuck fought for position heading into the second transition where he ran with the leaders for the first lap of the difficult 10-kilometre run course. While the leaders pulled away in the second 2.5-kilometre loop, Jones could not respond and held on for eighth place.
“I was able to finish strong today which was good,” said Jones. “The goal over the next few weeks will be to fine tune some things so I will be in a position to run with that lead group later in the race.”
The hunt for gold came down to a three-man sprint to the finish. When the dust finally settled it was Laurent Vidal, of France, coming out on top of the photo finish with a time of 1:53.22. Australia’s Brad Kahlefeldt grabbed the silver medal at 1:53.22, while David Hauss, also of France, settled for the bronze medal at 1:53.22.
Victoria’s Brent McMahon, who has been travelling to international triathlon races around the world with Jones to secure Canada three spots at the Olympics, also had a solid outing finishing in the top-15. The 31-year-old Olympian clocked a 14th-place time of 1:54.41.
Thanks to Jones’ top-10 result, Canada now moves into eighth place in the Olympic qualification battle for three spots in the men’s field.
“I’m very happy that Brent and I have now put Canada in the top-eight countries,” added Jones. “The big goal is to improve our ranking and score maximum points.”
Bryden Jordan was the only other Canadian in the field and did not finish.
The women’s World Cup race hits the start line in Mooloolaba on Sunday.
For complete coverage of the Mooloolaba World Cup, please visit www.triathlon.org. Live video coverage from Mooloolaba will also be available on race days at triathlonlive.tv.
The World Triathlon Series gets underway in Sydney, Australia, April 14-15, 2012
1. Laurent Vidal FRA 1:53:22
2. Brad Kahlefeldt AUS 1:53:22
3. David Hauss FRA 1:53:22
4. Mario Mola ESP 1:53:28
5. Brendan Sexton AUS 1:53:37
6. Steffen Justus GER 1:53:52
7. Sebastian Rank GER 1:53:55
8. Kyle Jones CAN 1:54:09
9. William Clarke GBR 1:54:16
10. Maik Petzold GER 1:54:20
14. Brent McMahon CAN 1:54.41