The bike course of the 2007 Salford BG Triathlon World Cup nudges up against Old Trafford, the iconic home stadium of Manchester United. Although the world’s best triathletes cycle past it eight times, theyre too focused to glance up to take notice but are certainly aiming for a similar type of glory associated with the famed football club. With the teams season yet to begin, the focus wasnt on Old Trafford but instead on the streets of Salford as 130 elite athletes competed in the tenth stop of this years BG Triathlon World Cup series.
The womens field was buzzing with Fernandes racing in her first world cup since Madrid in early June. Absent from the last four world cup events, coupled with the performances of a surging Annabel Luxford, Fernandes place atop the world rankings was briefly threatened. But with the Aussie Luxford failing to finish last week in Kitzbuhel, the Portuguese sensation entered Salford still clinging to the number one ranking. Fernandes had to contend with a field littered with strong runners if she was going to claim her 17th career world cup win on a course she had never raced before.
The extra swim training in the off-season has paid off in droves as Fernandes exited the water in third place, just three seconds off the lead. After cycling in a large lead group with as many as 43 riders within eleven seconds of each other, the women headed out onto the 10-kilometer run course when Fernandes began to break away. The four-time European champion was her usual dominant self, posting the fastest run time of the day at 33:32 as she cruised to the 17th world cup win of her already stellar career. The Portuguese superstar remains firmly as the world number one as she set her sights on her first world championship later this year in Hamburg.
Today everything was perfect, the bike was technical, the swim was strong and the run was the best, said Fernandes. This is preparation for the Olympics and to try to do well there and for world championships.
Defending Salford champion Samantha Warriner has always raced well here and today was no exception. She came off the bike 16 seconds behind but with one of the faster transitions, she hammered out a sub 34:00 run and took the silver for her ninth career trip to the world cup podium. The Kiwi knew running down Fernandes was a tall order.
She is definitely the one to beat. Im still trying to catch her and one day hopefully I will, but at the moment, I have great respect for her. Shes a hard worker and deserves everything she gets, said Warriner. I feel brilliant. To get a podium in any world cup is the best feeling ever.
Reigning Olympic gold medalist Kate Allen was running at a brisk pace and looked like she would reel in Warriner but ran out of real estate and settled for the bronze. Brit Andrea Whitcombe finished just off the podium in fourth while Kiyomi Niwata crossed the line in fifth. With her second straight top five finish, Niwata has quietly climbed to number two in the world rankings.
The star-studded mens field included some of the very best runners in the sport including world number one Gomez, Aussie Brad Kahlefeldt, last weeks winner in Kitzbuhel Simon Whitfield of Canada, and world champion Tim Don. The highly coveted world number one ranking was on the line with only 14 points separating the top three men. Also in the hunt in Salford was former world champion and Olympic silver medalist Bevan Docherty.
But Gomez was the man to beat and he set the tone early, winning the swim leg and heading out onto the bike course ahead of usual swim powerhouses including American Andy Potts and Frenchman Stephane Poulat.
Gomez also put in the work on the bike course, trying to push the pace but failing to break away cleanly. Just after the midway point of the bike, a group of about eleven men that included Don, Potts and former world champion Ivan Rana did manage get away from the group. That pack was whittled down to Don who was alone in the lead after the first lap of the run. But he had the formidable running pack of Gomez, Whitfield and Kahlefeldt on his heels tracking down the world champion. The trio soon passed Don as they surged ahead. As expected, Gomez set a torrid pace in an attempt to drop his rivals long before the finish line.
I was confident in my run but it was difficult to create a gap with Brad (Kahlefeldt) and Simon (Whitfield) and Tim Don but I kept pushing and pushing and finally I could do it, said Gomez.
Whitfield and Kahlefeldt couldnt keep up with the Spaniard who was the only man to run the 10-kilometer course under 30:00. A strong start and stronger finish propelled Gomez to his second world cup win of the season and fifth of his career, while keeping his world number one ranking safe.
I did a very complete race, I was the first one out of the water. I had to work hard on the bike because there was a very dangerous breakaway with Tim Don and Ivan Rana and other good athletes. I felt very good on the run so I decide to push as hard as I can until the end, said Gomez.
Kahlefeldt manage to pull ahead of Whitfield for the silver. Don crossed the line in fourth, becoming the second Brit to finish one step shy of the podium while Rana finished fifth. Even Gomezs competitors concede the Spaniard is the one to beat at world championships later this year.
Theres only so much you can do to beat him and Im definitely going to improve now each week up until world championships. He is the benchmark and I definitely want to knock him off at world championships. But all credit to him, hes done very well, said Kahlefeldt, now ranked number four in the world.
Next up is the Tiszajvaros BG Triathlon World Cup in Hungary on August 11, a weekend that will also include the Team World Championships. Then the worlds best gather in Hamburg for the BG Triathlon World Championships from September 1-2.
2007 Salford BG Triathlon World Cup Elite Women Results
1. FERNANDES, Vanessa (POR) 2:02:59
2. WARRINER, Samantha (NZL) 2:03:17
3. ALLEN, Kate (AUT) 2:03:23
4. WHITCOMBE, Andrea (GBR) 2:03:59
5. NIWATA, Kiyomi (JPN) 2:04:02
6. DENSHAM, Erin (AUS) 2:04:14
7. TANNER, Debbie (NZL) 2:04:30
8. PEON, Carole (FRA) 2:04:30
9. GROVES, Lauren (CAN) 2:04:33
10. SPIRIG, Nicola (SUI) 2:04:38
2007 Salford BG Triathlon World Cup Elite Men Results
1. GOMEZ, Javier (ESP) 1:51:47
2. KAHLEFELDT, Brad (AUS) 1:51:59
3. WHITFIELD, Simon (CAN) 1:52:04
4. DON, Tim (GBR) 1:52:19
5. RANA, Ivan (ESP) 1:52:33
6. DOCHERTY, Bevan (NZL) 1:52:39
7. BRUKHANKOV, Alexander (RUS) 1:52:43
8. CLARKE, William (GBR) 1:52:53
9. HAYES, Stuart (GBR) 1:52:59
10. RAELERT, Andreas (GER) 1:53:02
Related Event: 2007 Salford BG Triathlon World Cup
|Results: Elite Men|
|1.||Javier Gomez Noya||ESP||01:51:47|
|5.||Ivan Raña Fuentes||ESP||01:52:32|
|Results: Elite Women|