Two great races in Kitzbuhel this weekend. Nice to see some warmer weather for the event in the alps this year, and NO wetsuits:)
The Womens event kicked off the weekend on Saturday. The improved swims of Spirig (SUI) and Norden (SWE) were the difference makers here. With both of them swimming near the front now, there is little room for error in T1, the mount, the shoes and the getting on that TRAIN! We saw a few athletes (Morrison and Jorgensen), fumble over these vital aspects and as a result miss the group and the race.
The leaders quickly assembled and rode well and efficient for a group of 15 over the 40k. The Kitzbuhel bike course offers little opportunity for groups to see eachother, this offers the leaders an out of site / out of mind opportunity which they capitalized on quickly pushing the gap to upwards of 2:30. This gap would come down by a minute over the closing stages and with Spirig leading them into T2 the gap had shunk to 1:20. Because the group was greater than 6, no prime was awarded and will carry over to Hamburg. This new prime system will get very interesting if it rolls over a few times and gets up to say $20,000.
On the run we saw Spirig out front alone for the first 400m or so. A distinct group would emerge nearing the first turn-around with the expected players (Spirig, Harrison, Norden, Riveros, Hewitt, Groff). Riveros Diaz seemed to want to set the pace once things settled into a rhythm. This group would stay together until almost 7k when Groff would be the first to fall off. For her first race of the season, Norden looked quite good, noticeable leaner as well.
Nearing the finish the group began to splinter and we had two sets of sprints to enjoy. Spirig showed incredible speed laying down a devastating kick over Norden. Hewitt then out dueled Riveros to claim yet another consistent podium finish. Not to be overshadowed were Gentle and Jorgensen who ran through some of the lead pack posting the quickest run splits by 35s to finish 10th/11th.
Surprise: Samuels in 6th
Similar conditions showed up for the mens race on Sunday, 25C and no wetsuits. With A.Brownlee and Gomez starting back in the 30′s this offered a bit of a different dynamic to the swim. Alistair lost his goggles quite early, likely a result of fighting through the scrum to connect with the Russian boat. A smaller field here of 50′ish, but with a lot of the top guys, also made for perhaps a tougher race with less room for error.
Out of the water the Polyanskiy brothers lead us into T1 with Dmitry first to mount. ITU unfortunately didn’t have great footage of the opening stages of the bike. Instead of showing the athletes in T1 20s down, show us the rampage occuring on the bike!!!
The Brownlees and Vasiliev must have laid down something serious to get away that quickly. What was even more scary was Alistair pulling for what seemed like the entire first lap before Johnny came through. If Vasiliev is seen TT’ing third wheel you know the pace is HOT! Perhaps he had no intentions of helping but the aerobars made it seem like he was on last resort to hang on. With 30s after the first lap this race seemed like it could quickly get out of hand. The chase however became organized, the Germans came to the front along with Gomez to start the reel. Down to 20s after lap 2, the chase gained momentum and the catch would happen shortly after.
Once merged, Hayes made sure to get to the front of the group to dictate the pace and cover any attacks while the Brownlees recovered??? Do they ever need to recover??
A few key players had missed the group out of the water. There would be no Murray or Mola to unleash their runs this time around. Verzbicas also did not make the group, but at 19 he put up one hell of a race with a run just inferior to Alistairs.
In and out of T2 in 19s A.Brownlee bolted to a lead that he would not relinquish. J.Brownlee held the gap to big brother at 8s after the first lap but would start to see that grow over the next three laps bit by bit. Gomez challenged himself to go out with the BBoys over the first lap. He paid for this by suffering a bit at 5k. The Russians closed in on Gomez and a battle between Javier and Brukhankov would ensue for the final podium spot. With about a mile to go, Gomez made a move to get the gap he needed to hold off the Russian to the line.
With Alistairs performance here making quite the statemendt, a lot of athletes will be wondering if he really had an injury at all? Conspiracy theory? Mind Games?
No, seriously though what a race after an achillies tear that saw him water running for the better part of the winter/spring.
A lot of athletes I feel had quite a heavy training load coming into this one, which may explain some of the unusual results and time gaps. 6 weeks to the big show when it really counts.
Surprise: McNamee and Dodds in 9th/10th