For a guy who is focused on getting back to the Olympics this summer, Spain’s Javier Gomez sure seems to have his half-distance fitness in good order. The five-time ITU world champ (and two-time 70.3 world champion) used an all-around performance and some impressive biking skills to easily take Challenge Cancun today. In the women’s race pre-race favourite Anneke Jenkins seemed to be on track to take the day, but was forced out of the race with an injury, which opened the door for Argentina’s Romina Palacio Balena to take the day.
Gomez consistent in all three sports
The 2012 Olympic silver medalist was just a couple of seconds behind his countryman Victor Benages out of the water, but on the bike he found himself chasing 2007 Ironman 70.3 world champion Andy Potts (USA), who pulled clear of the rest of the field, only to lose his lead to a flat. Gomez then moved to the front, but Potts was able to get back on the road and ride back up to the front – the two men hit T2 toegether. Behind them Switzerland’s Ruedi Wild managed to move into third, but was just under three-minutes behind, while Austria’s Michael Weiss and Bermuda’s Tyler Butterfield hit T2 five and six minutes back.
Out on the run there was no touching Gomez, who cruised through a 1:14:40 run in the steamy conditions (it was 32 C with 96 per cent humidity at race start) to take the win in 3:46:36. The win will certainly give Gomez some confidence heading into Tokyo, where conditions are expected to be extremely hot and humid, too. Wild would run past Potts to nail second (3:50:37) with Potts rounding out the podium (3:51:13).
Balena runs to the win
A former ITU athlete representing Argentina, Romina Palacio Balena turned her sights to half-distance racing towards the end of 2019, which seems to be working out quite well based on her result today. She and American Annie Kelly came out of the water behind pre-race favourite Anneke Jenkins (NZL). The Kiwi rode away from the other two, hitting T2 with a lead of about a minute.
Out on the run course, though, Jenkins had to pull out of the race with an injury, which left Balena in front. She stayed there to the line, taking the win in 4:34:32, with Kelly finishing second in 4:38:32 and Palmira Alvarez rounding out the podium in 4:41:17.
You can find results from today’s race here.