Tim Don took home the $200,000 top prize at today’s Hy-Vee Elite Cup in Des Moines, breaking away from the field at the start of the run to win in 1:50:20. New Zealand’s Kris Gemmell finished second, four seconds back, with Aussie Courtney Atkinson rounding out the podium, finishing another four seconds behind.
"This feels absolutely amazing," Don said afterward. "I felt great at the start of the run and just tried to hang on for the whole thing. I was really hurting to hold them off at the end."
Sixty-six men dove into the swim to start the fourth annual event, and to no one’s surprise, the Russian duo of Alexander Brukhankov and Dmitry Polyansky moved right to the front. Brukhankov lead through the first of two swim loops, before Polyansky took over the lead on the second lap. Polyansky, who is currently ranked second in the world, sprinted the final 100 metres to exit the water first and take the $5,000 swim prime. Canada’s Andrew McCartney was next out of the swim, with a big group of almost 50 men flowing out of the water only 20 seconds later.
A big group of 55 men came together on the first lap of the bike and continued to ride in a tight bunch through the first three laps. The only earnest break attempt was made by New Zealand’s Ryan Sissons, who rode solo for two laps before being swept back up by the group. After a relatively slow ride, a group of over 50 men entered the second transition together, with Don and Gemmell the first to make it onto the run course.
Don immediately took off at a blistering pace, with Gemmell and Germany’s Jan Frodeno trying to keep pace. Don built a 20-second advantage over Frodeno after the first of four run laps, with Gemmell falling back into a chase pack that included countryman Bevan Docherty, Aussie Brad Kahlefeldt and American Jarrod Shoemaker.
Onto the final lap, Don still held a 20-second lead over Frodeno, but both were struggling and losing time to the chase pack. In the end, the chasers were able to catch Frodeno, but they ran out of room before they could catch Don, and the Brit strode down the finishing chute with time to celebrate his $200,000 win.
"I knew the guys were closing hard, but when I saw I still had 20 seconds heading into that last lap, I thought I could do it," Don said.
Gemmell and Atkinson broke away from the chase group with only 800 metres to go and ran side-by-side down the finishing chute, with the Kiwi breaking away in the final strides to take second. Atkinson rounded out the podium, earning his second podium finish in as many weeks after finishing second at the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Madrid last weekend.
Click here for complete results. Image Delly Carr
For a full feature on Don look out for issue 249 of 220 Triathlon, out 29 June (http://www.220triathlon.com/magazine/next-issue)