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Riveros Diaz, Docherty Take World Championship Series Opener in Sydney
It was a tremendous start to the 2010 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series in Sydney today, with a surprise sprint winner in the women's race and a dominant performance by Kiwi Bevan Docherty in the men's contest.
Chile's Barbara Riveros Diaz, a Team ITU Sport Development athlete, pulled off a stunning upset in the women's event, topping Kiwi Andrea Hewitt and Australia's Emma Moffatt in a thrilling sprint to the line. Hewitt grabbed the runner-up position, finishing a half-second behind Riveros Diaz, with Moffatt finishing another four-tenths of a second back.
"I was a bit nervous heading into the final lap," Riveros Diaz said. "I'm usually not very good at a sprint finish, but today it all worked out very well."
It's been a big couple of weeks for the 22-year old Chilean, who won the sprint and Olympic-distance titles at the South American Games just two weeks ago.
"I was a bit distracted before this race and only just returned from South America on Wednesday," said Riveros Diaz. "I was feeling tired during my final preparation, but I felt very good today."
Forty-seven women took to the water's of Farm Cove in world-famous Sydney Harbour to officially kick off the women's 2010 World Championship Season. A group of Americans including Laura Bennett, Sarah Haskins and Sara Groff immediately charged to the front, but the pack remained in a tight bunch throughout the first of two 750-metre swim laps. Bennett took off as soon as she dove in to start the second lap of the swim, stringing the group out into one long line.
Bennett was the first to make transition, with countrywomen Haskins and Groff right behind. A big group came into transition only a few seconds later, including Moffatt, the reigning world champion. Moffatt's strong swim came as a bit of a surprise, given that she broke her shoulder two months ago in an accident while bike training.
"I was a bit surprised that my swim went so well," Moffatt said. "It was good to get out with the group. That helped me settle into a comfortable pace on the bike."
A small group attempted a break on the first of eight laps on the bike, with Switzerland's Daniela Ryf leading the way, but the breakaway group was caught by the big pack of chasers as they started lap two and Sweden's Lisa Norden took over the lead role. The front group, containing over 30 women and all the big hitters, continued to ride at a comfortable pace through the rest of the bike leg. There were a few breakaway attempts on the final two laps of the ride, but none were able to stay away from the peloton for more than a few minutes.
Norden led a group of almost 30 women into T2 and immediately put in a surge as the lead ladies headed up the hill out of transition. The Swede's effort split the lead pack into two, with 20 women able to keep pace on the opening kilometre. Most of the big guns hung with Norden, including Moffatt, Bennett, Riveros Diaz, Canadian Kathy Tremblay, and South African Kate Roberts. Norden continued to lead throughout the first of four laps on the run, stringing out the lead group. By the time to top women wrapped up lap one, the group was down to only 14 runners, with Norden and Moffatt at the front.
At the halfway point of the run, a lead group of four emerged and put a huge gap on the women behind them. In the group were Moffatt, Riveros Diaz, Hewitt and Japan's Mariko Adachi. The group continued to open up a gap on the women behind them, and headed into the bell lap with a 35-second advantage on a small chase pack of five women.
"The run was so hard and a bit different," Hewitt said. "Last year Emma would run so quick at the start, but this course, with the hill right at the start, kept a few of us together."
As the four leaders made the final roundabout on the causeway overlooking Sydney's Circular Quay, it was clear that the podium would come from the front group; all that was left to decide was the order. As they stormed down the final hill with less than 800 metres to go, Riveros Diaz was the first to make a move, but Hewitt quickly responded and pulled the group back together. Riveros put in another surge as she made the final turn into the finishing chute and this time she couldn't be caught. The Chilean broke the tape in 2:04:19, with Hewitt only a second behind. Moffatt finished another second back of Hewitt to take the final spot on the podium. Adachi hung on for third, finishing 10 seconds behind Moffatt, with Sweden's Lisa Norden rounding out the top five.
"We really pushed each other hard on the run," Hewitt said. "Barbara was just too tough coming down that final hill and I couldn't stay with her. She was amazing today."
Docherty Wins World Championship Opener for Second Year in a Row
There was no sprint finish in the men's contest, as Docherty put on a huge surge in the final kilometre to break away from Russia's Alexander Brukhankov and Dmitry Polyansky, and Frenchman David Hauss. Last season Docherty also won the opening race of the Series, topping Aussie Brad Kahlefeldt in a sprint to the line in Tongyeong, Korea.
"I always enjoy the sprint finishes, but it was nice to have a little room to be able to celebrate the win a bit," Docherty said at the finish.
Fifty-seven men took to the water's of Farm Cove in beautiful Sydney Harbour to officially kick off the 2010 World Championship Season. Russia's Alexander Brukhankov and Frenchman Frederic Belaubre immediately moved to the front, but were unable to make a break on the first 750-metre lap. The pack started to string out on the second loop, with the Russian men charging to the front. Russia's Dmitry Polyansky led out of the swim, with a big group of almost 50 athletes exiting just behind.
Onto the first of eight laps on the bike, Aussie youngster James Seear, who finished third at the Mooloolaba World Cup two weeks ago, took over the leading role at the start of the hilly ride, with Docherty right on his wheel. Aussie Greg Bennett assumed the role of leading the chasers and kept the peloton within 10 seconds of the leaders throughout the first two laps.
At the halfway point of the ride, Belgium's Peter Croes took charge of the race, with Russia's Anton Chuchko and Spanish super-biker Ivan Rana on his wheel. Frenchman Laurent Vidal lead the group of big hitters, only eight seconds behind. Riding with Vidal were 2008 Olympic champion Jan Frodeno of Germany, Hunter Kemper of the United States and Docherty.
Heading into the bell lap, Kemper and Chuchko worked together to make a break on the pack and started the final climb up Macquarie Street with a 35-second advantage on the pack. After a quick transition, Kemper headed out onto the four-lap run course in the lead, with Chuchko only seven seconds behind. Next into transition were France's Tony Moulai and American Matt Chrabot, both 20 seconds back of Kemper. The big group made their way into T2 almost a minute behind Kemper, led by Docherty and countryman Kris Gemmell.
The pair of Americans began to pull away on the second lap of the run, building a 30-second lead but they weren't able to hold off the hard charge from Docherty, who led a group of five chasers. The Kiwi made up half of that deficit on the third lap of the run, closing to within just 15 seconds. Running alongside Docherty were Brukhankov, Polyansky, Hauss and 2000 Sydney Olympic gold medallist Simon Whitfield of Canada.
Docherty, Brukhankov and Hauss caught the pair of leaders as they headed up the final hill on the bell lap, and there was little doubt that Docherty was running the strongest of the group.
"The plan was to go easy in the first kilometre on the run and hold back," Docherty said. "That worked to perfection. Then I started dropping the other guys one by one."
Docherty surged to the front stretched his lead throughout the final kilometre, holding off the charge from Brukhankov and Hauss behind. The Kiwi broke the tape in 1:51:27, pumping his first as he sprinted down the finishing chute.
"It was a real tough course today," Docherty said. "It was much harder than I expected, but I felt good heading into the final lap and was able to make a break. Winning in front of the Sydney Opera House is amazing."
Brukhankov outdueled Hauss in a sprint for second, with the pair separated by only a second at the finish.
"I had to push really hard at the finish," Hauss said. "I'm really happy with third and I hope to be competitive throughout the rest of the season."
The second race of the 2010 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series is set for Seoul, Korea on May 8-9. Live coverage will be available on triathlonlive.tv.
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