YES, Kristen Sweetland is really coming back!
Olympic triathletes Emma Moffatt and Brad Kahlefeldt have kick-started their 2011 World Championship campaigns with stunning victories in the Australian Sprint Triathlon Championships in Geelong today.
First it was two-time and defending world champion Moffatt who showed all her class, who scampered away on the final lap of the run to beat Canadian Kirsten Sweetland to win her second National Sprint title.
Then it was boyfriend and coach Kahlefeldt’s turn to tame the picturesque 750 metre swim; 20 kilometre bike and five kilometre run course.
Kahlefeldt showed why he is one of Australia’s best hopes for next year’s London Olympics with a brilliant run leg, which showed his class.
The Beijing Olympian, who finished third in last year’s World Championship Series, produced one his best ever swims.
He emerged after the 750m swim in fifth place, just five seconds behind leader, Alstonville’s Clayton Fettell.
It enabled him to stay within striking distance on the four-lap bike leg with less than a minute separating the first half of the field.
Kahlefeldt pushed the go button on the first lap of the run and it was all over bar the shouting as he joined French Olympian Laurent Vidal, Australia’s Brendan Sexton and British Olympian and under 23 World Champion who all positioned themselves for the run home.
The Wagga-born, Gold Coast-based Kahlefeldt cruised to the line, leaving Vidal in second and Sexton a brilliant third, ahead of Clarke.
Kahlefeldt admitted he felt “pretty sluggish” the whole day being his first race back.
“I’ve been swimming a lot in training and the swim felt quite good out there, sitting about third or fourth the whole way through which was nice,” said Kahlefeldt.
“It’s a nice improvement from sitting back in 20th spot where I was a couple years ago.
“The heart rate was high on the bike and I got off pretty tired although I wasn’t sure how I was going to go after the one lap because there was a few boys with me.
“I just stuck to it and I knew in the closing stages I’d probably come through.
“I just kept the tempo on at the three-km where I surged, and tried to open up a gap, those guys would have to do a lot coming from the last kilometre. I had a decent lead by then, a nice buffer, so I could just cruise home.
“I’m very happy with my first Australian Sprint Championship; I’ve won three Olympic Distance Australian Championships but never a sprint so that is pretty special.”
Twenty-six-year-old Moffatt took control of the women’s race on the final lap of the five-kilometre run course to record a comfortable victory.
The Olympic bronze medallist made her move on Sweetland on the final hill climb and was never headed.
The pair had rubbed shoulders through the first four kilometres but it was Moffatt who was full of running.
Sweetland hung on for second and it was Australia’s Under 23 world Champion Emma Jackson who produced a brilliant sprint finish to hold off fellow Australian Felicity Sheedy-Ryan for third.
Moffat, in her first race back since wrapping up her second World Championship in Budapest last September, led the 15-strong field out of the swim.
Gold Coast-based British Olympian Blatchford, Canadian Olympian Sweetland and Jackson were close behind.
The leading foursome shared duties on the four-lap 20 kilometre bike course with a determined Moffatt always in control.
Coming into the second transition from the bike to the five-kilometre run it was Moffatt who produced a smooth change over to steal a 10 metre lead.
It was the kind of class which has seen the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist remain a major podium threat again for the London 2012 Olympics.
Today’s title was Moffatt’s second National Sprint Championship, having won her first in Hobart in 2008.
And she knew she had to go from the gun.
« I knew that there was lots of good runners in the pack so my aim was to get out on top of the swim and hammer it a bit on those first few laps of the bike so that we could possible form a group which we did,” said Moffatt.
“The four of us worked well together so I knew I just had to get off and run just as hard as I swam and rode. It was a great race.
« We rode pretty hard and got off, Kirsten (Sweetland) went pretty hard from the start, and I felt really good so I kicked on for the last half of the final lap.
« You never stop running hard until the end but running up the last hill she backed off a little bit and I just keep going hard now and form that gap and just keep it for as long as I can.
« It’s a nice title to have, it’s not the main goal of this season but it’s a great way to start the year and hopefully I can continue and be consistent. »
Moffatt and Kahlefeldt will now prepare for the second race of the Triathlon Australia Championship Series, the Mooloolaba World Cup next month.
The best triathletes in the world will then converge on Sydney for the first round of the Dextro Energy ITU World Championship Series in Sydney on April 9 and 10.
- Brad Kahlefeldt (Aust) 53.54
- Laurent Vidal (Fra) 53.58
- Brendan Sexton (Aust) 54.03
- Will Clarke (GBE) 54.12
- Cameron Good (Aust) 54.23
- Ryan Fisher (Aust) 54.41
- Dave Matthews (Aust) 54.45
- Jesse Featonby (Aust) 54.48
- Drew Box (Aust) 54.53
- Mitchell Robins (Aust) 54.58
- Emma Moffatt (Aust) 58.48
- Kirsten Sweetland (Can) 59.09
- Emma Jackson (Aust) 59.42
- Felicity Sheedy-Ryan (Aust) 59.44
- Liz Blatchford (GBE) 59.51
- Lauren Campbell (Can) 1.00.34
- Ashleigh Gentle (Aust) 1.01.03
- Charlotte McShane (Aust) 1:01:04
- Lisa Marangon (Aust) 1:01:43
- Vendula Frintova (CZE) 1:02:09