Victories for Alistair Brownlee and Emma Moffatt capped off a brilliant day’s racing in the US capital as the iconic city of Washington DC welcomed human horsepower and triathletes clad in Lycra, rather than the usual procession of cars and suited dignitaries and politicians, onto their roads. The two race winners also climbed into pole position on the Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Rankings following the first three rounds of action.
The men got the racing underway shortly after 9am with a 1,500m two lap swim in the Potomac River. Heavy rains in the days preceding the race raised the water level and generated some strong currents which the athletes had to contend with.
The early pacesetters were the American pairing of Hunter Kemper and Andy Potts who took the initiative to try and establish a breakaway. Kemper, who has been suffering with a back injury, was hoping to make his move before the run, whilst Potts was an elite swimmer before turning his attention to multisport. They managed to pull along young Alistair Brownlee, the winner of the Madrid leg of the series, Javier Gomez the 2008 World Champion and experience German, Maik Petzold, as the five exited the water with a fifteen second advantage over Olympic gold medallist Jan Frodeno.
The quintet were away and gone on the bike before Frodeno could latch onto the back of them, and working hard the leaders quickly opened up a 40 second gap. The large group of chasers included all of the pre-race favourites, but they could not orchestrate a successful routine to share the workload and pull themselves back into the race. By second transition the advantage was stretched to two minutes and the podium positions were quickly made unassailable as Brownlee, Gomez and Petzold took off in full flight.
Brownlee used the same tactic as Madrid early on as he hammered the opening kilometres to try and break the resolve of his opponents, however the hard working Gomez who only recently returned to action following an ankle injury closer him back down. Petzold remained in close contention throughout as he looked to better his fourth place finish from Madrid.
Further back home favourite Jarrod Shoemaker headed the charge from the chase pack as they set about closing down the tiring Potts and Kemper. A competitive group including Frodeno, his fellow countryman Steffen Justus, Australia’s Brad Kahlefeldt, Britain’s Will Clarke and France’s Laurent Vidal worked together with the American in lifting the pace.
At the front the Brit made his move with one 2.5km lap remaining, surging away from Gomez who in turn was able to drop Petzold. Entering the home stretch the reigning under 23 world champion took in the moment before he crossed the line against the backdrop of the iconic Capitol Building.
Gomez ran through for second with Petzold in fourth whilst Potts and Kemper were able to hold on to complete the top five. Frodeno took sixth ahead of Vidal, Shoemaker, Justus and Clarke.
“It was great to have another good result at a world championship race,” a delighted Brownlee told the media. “The venue here in Washington DC is fantastic; it’s rare to get the chance to race in a setting like this, it was pretty amazing! It was a hard race, a windy bike and I really had to push on the run to get rid of the other guys. I kept looking behind me on the run and they were still there, and finally on the last lap they weren’t.”
“I’m getting better with every race, but today it was not enough to catch Alistair. He is in really phenomenal shape,” admitted Gomez. “Brownlee went out fast like in Madrid and I focused to stay with him. But on the last lap he pushed again and I couldn’t go with him. I was hurting.”
“It was an ideal race for me,” said a delighted Petzold. “Good swim, the bike was tough and we pushed really hard. I didn’t think before the race started that we could break away, but we just put our heads down and gained time. It is always fantastic to get on the podium, it is just my fourth time, so it shows that I am on track and doing a good job with my new coach. This result makes me want to even harder.”
In the women’s competition all eyes were on Emma Snowsill, the Olympic champion. Having not lost a race since September 2007, and not lost to anyone other than Beijing silver medallist Vanessa Fernandes since 2005, she was expected to clock her second win of the Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Series.
However her training partner and compatriot Emma Moffatt had other ideas as she rallied strongly in the swim with the American contingent to forge a breakaway, much like in the men’s race.
A small group managed to open an advantage coming onto the bike as Moffatt partnered up with 2008 world champion Helen Jenkins from Britain and Madrid winner Andrea Hewitt, amongst others. Snowsill found herself caught between the leaders and the chase pack and worked hard to try and close down the front group, but to no avail.
Luckily for the Aussie she was swept up by Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf and Sweden’s Lisa Norden who were driving the pace of the chasers. Their tireless work combined with the lack of structure of the front runners meant that they were able to reel and catch the breakaway by the halfway point during the 40km cycle.
Once back together the American pairing of Pan American champion, Mary Beth Ellis, and 2008 world championship silver medallist, Sarah Haskins, delighted the home support by putting in an injection of pace to open up a lead of 35 seconds which they carried into second transition.
Behind them Moffatt stormed through the transition area and started strongly to chase down the Americans whilst Norden tried to retain contact whilst Snowsill suffered a poor change over and settled into an easy pace alongside Ryf. They soon caught and passed Ellis who was struggling from her exertions on the bike, but only Moffatt was able to overtake Haskins, as she took the lead after a couple of kilometres.
Norden dropped to the side of the course with cramp and lost second place to Snowsill who made her move at the halfway mark. The slight Australian looked to be running well, however the gap to Moffatt had grown too large and she was unable to make much of an impression in the leader’s advantage. Ryf and Haskins duelled it out to complete the podium with the Swiss reigning under 23 world champion finally breaking the American’s resolve with a turn of pace 2.5km from the finish.
Moffatt was able to enjoy the moment as she crossed the line in 1:59:55, some 25 seconds ahead of Snowsill. Ryf finished third with Haskins mirroring the USA’s best men’s performance with fourth. Jenkins held off Hewitt for fifth with France’s Jess Harrison taking seventh ahead of Japan’s Juri Ide. Sarah Groff placed ninth for the USA with Canada’s Lauren Groves clocking the third fastest run split to move from the distant chase pack into tenth.
“Washington DC is a spectacular place with the history and monuments, although I didn’t get a chance to take a look during the race,” joked Moffatt. “I’m really happy with how it went today; it’s a hard year and you have to keep smart with your training and racing to be successful. It’s nice to know when you take the run out that hard, and to know you’re not hurting at all, that no one is catching you. It’s a great feeling!”
“I think the ride was really where the push began,” explained Snowsill. “There was even a surge in the swim right off the bat and those girls really pushed the pace to close that gap on the bike. Even then once we were together people were trying to make breakaways so we were all going really hard. It was surprisingly windy out there and we were all just hoping that the clouds didn’t have any rain; thankfully they held off which was really great because that makes for such much faster racing for us.”
“It was a pretty rough swim with the current. I tried a couple of times to get away on the bike but with no luck,” said a delighted Ryf. “The run was fantastic as I managed to stay with Emma [Snowsill] for the first 5km and I am incredibly happy with my race. My finish gives me a lot of confidence. To stay and run with an Olympic champion is pretty amazing. I knew that I had to do a lot of work to keep with the best girls in the world and today I did.”
Brownlee’s victory also took the Brit to the top of the Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Rankings after the first three of the eight races. He displaces Russia’s Dmitry Polyansky who won the European Under 23 Championships in Italy the same weekend as the Washington race. Australia’s Brad Kahlefeldt managed to hold on to second ahead of compatriot Courtney Atkinson in third.
Moffatt moved into the top spot as the extra points she accumulated at the Mooloolaba World Cup triathlon took her clear of Snowsill despite them both registering a first and second from the first three races. France’s Jess Harrison slipped one place to third with Juri Ide retaining fourth.
2009 Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Rankings
After Race Three of Eight
1. Alistair Brownlee (GBR) 1600pts
2. Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS) 1536pts
3. Courtney Atkinson (AUS) 1437pts
4. Javier Gomez (ESP) 1425pts
5. Jarrod Shoemaker (USA) 1372pts
2009 Washington DC Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship
1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run
Elite Men – Unofficial Results
Gold – Alistair Brownlee (GBR) 1:48:58
Silver – Javier Gomez (ESP) 1:49:11 +0:13
Bronze – Maik Petzold (GER) 1:49:24 +0:26
4th – Andy Potts (USA) 1:49:51 +0:53
5th – Hunter Kemper (USA) 1:50:24 +1:26
6th – Jan Frodeno (GER) 1:50:32 +1:34
7th – Laurent Vidal (FRA) 1:50:36 +1:38
8th – Jarrod Shoemaker (USA) 1:50:41 +1:43
9th – Steffen Justus (GER) 1:50:52 +1:54
10th – Will Clarke (GBR) 1:50:59 +2:01
Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Rankings
After Race Three of Eight
1. Emma Moffatt (AUS) 1818pts
2. Emma Snowsill (AUS) 1540pts
3. Jessica Harrison (FRA) 1525pts
4. Juri Ide (JPN) 1448pts
5. Daniela Ryf (SUI) 1405pts
Washington DC Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship
1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run
Elite Women – Official Results
Gold – Emma Moffatt (AUS) 1:59:55
Silver – Emma Snowsill (AUS) 2:00:20 +0:25
Bronze – Daniela Ryf (SUI) 2:01:01 +1:06
4th – Sarah Haskins (USA) 2:01:18 +1:23
5th – Helen Jenkins (GBR) 2:01:27 +1:32
6th – Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 2:01:44 +1:49
7th – Jessica Harrison (FRA) 2:02:05 +2:10
8th – Juri Ide (JPN) 2:02:28 +2:33
9th – Sarah Groff (USA) 2:02:52 +2:57
10th – Lauren Groves (CAN) 2:02:59 +3:04