New Zeland’s Andrea Hewitt and Kris Gemmell took victories over the weekend at the ITU Auckland World Cup.
New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt put the perfect finishing touch on her already excellent 2011 season, leading a bike breakaway en route to a dominant World Cup win in Auckland.
After impressive victories in Beijing and Yokohama, Hewitt was the female triathlete to beat at home in the final World Cup race this year. And the World Championship silver medallist did not disappoint on the course that will host the 2012 Dextro Energy Triathlon Series Grand Final.
After quickly catching the leaders from the swim, Hewitt rode hard to lead a breakaway of five athletes on the tough, hilly and technical bike course before easily pulling away on the run for her third consecutive major win in a time of 2 hours 14 minutes and 12 seconds, almost a full minute ahead of Japan’s Tomoko Sakimoto who claimed her second consecutive World Cup silver. Her teammate Mariko Adachi claimed bronze, finishing a further 13 seconds behind Sakimoto.
Hewitt’s comfortable winning margin allowed her plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere in Auckland, where thousands of people lined the CBD streets. In the final kilometre, she took the time to wave and high-five fans, and had a huge smile on her face all the way to the finish line.
“It’s amazing, the feeling was so incredible running that last lap. It’s actually really hard to run and smile at the same time. But, it was just such a great race,” Hewitt said.
Kris Gemmell dedicated an emotional win to everyone affected by cancer, as he banished six months of ordinary results and his own fitness problems to complete a New Zealand ITU World Cup sweep at home in Auckland today. After detailing his own struggles with fitness this year at the pre-race press conference, Gemmell revealed in a TV interview that he would be racing two battles in Auckland, one for him and one for a cousin recently diagnosed with a brain tumor.
And after coming out in second place in the swim and putting in the hard work early on one of the toughest ITU bike courses, Gemmell upped the ante with a breakaway from the breakaway with 10 kilometers to go. Early on it didn’t look like it would work, but eventually it paid off in the best fashion as he claimed his first world cup win since 2008, and his fifth title overall in 1 hour 59 minutes and 59 seconds. His compatriot Bevan Docherty ran into silver to make it a Kiwi 1-2 at home in 2:01:06, while Australian Ryan Fisher claimed his first world cup medal with bronze in 2:01:19.
But the race belonged to Gemmell. In the final few hundred metres, he spelled out ‘Tim’ to the TV camera and struggled to put words together afterwards. Docherty added some for him.
“It’s just a magical event. It was such a demanding course and we just dominated out there, everything was under control…it was just a perfect race,” Docherty said. “I’m so happy for Kris, it’s been a tough year for him.”
Before Gemmell added, “I’d just like to thank the public for the atmosphere was amazing out there, I’d just like to say that for all those people out there who have struggled with cancer…. I hope that the show we put on today has done something to help.”
The win gives Gemmell five ITU World Cup wins, which means he is now equal with Docherty. The result is also important for New Zealand’s possible Olympic campaign, with the valuable Olympic qualifying points putting them in a better position to secure three men’s spots in London.
The battle for top-10 spots was a thrilling affair as the No.1 ranked Laurent Vidal (FRA) smashed through the field on the run to finish fourth. Vidal’s run split of 31 minutes and 58 seconds was the only sub 32-minute split of the day, while Jarrod Shoemaker (USA), Ivan Rana (ESP), Clark Ellice (NZL), Ryan Sissons (NZL), Marek Jaskolka (POL) and Fabio Carvalho (BRA) also ran themselves through the field to round out the top 10.