Hayes finishes second in Mooloolaba

Silver and bronze for Brits down under

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Brad Kahlefeldt kicked off the 2010 World Cup season with a win on home turf. The Ozzy finished just 10 seconds ahead of Great Britain’s Stuart Hayes, who put on a late charge to finish second. Aussie youngster James Seear finished in third, 16 seconds back of Hayes, after leading for the majority of the race.

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High surf throughout the week leading up to the race gave way to calm Ocean conditions on race day, making for a quick swim. Leading the way out of the water was New Zealand’s Dylan McNeice, with a big group of approximately 20 athletes right on his heels. McNeice exited the swim in 18:18, with Josh Amberger and Seear just a few seconds behind.

Onto the bike, Seear and Amberger, who train together, immediately charged to the front and worked together to build their advantage on each of the seven laps. The Netherland’s Jan Van Berkel gave chase, but no one was able to make up ground on the two Aussies at the front.  

After five of seven laps on the bike, Seear and Amberger had a 56-second gap on the chase pack, which was led by American Ethan Brown. The pack of 22 men seemed content to let the two young Aussies pull away, losing about 20 seconds on each of the remaining laps. Coming into the final lap Amberger and Seear had a gap of 1:38 on the chasers.

As for the women, it was a great start to the 2010 World Cup season for reigning ITU Duathlon World Champion Vendula Frintova of the Czech Republic. Frintova took home the title in Mooloolaba, narrowly outpacing Japan’s Tomoko Sakimoto and Great Britain’s Liz Blatchford.

A little cloud cover gave the elite women a bit of a break from the hot conditions that have hung over Mooloolaba all week, but a stiff breeze made for plenty of chop in the Ocean as the women started their swim. American veteran Laura Bennett immediately charged to the front of the pack, accompanied by countrywoman Sarah Groff, Blatchford and Aussie Felicity Sheedy-Ryan.

Bennett continued to string the group of 42 women out through the 1.5km swim, and by the time the top women exited the water, there were two distinct groups. Bennett led the first group out of the water in 20:40. Noticeably absent from the lead group at the first transition was defending race winner Kirsten Sweetland of Canada. Sweetland exited the water over a minute back of Bennett, with Frintova also in the trailing group.

Onto the first of seven laps of the bike, Blatchford took charge of the front group of 13, while Germany’s Ricarda Lisk led the chase group of seven women. A third group of 12 finished the first lap about 25 seconds behind the chase group.

The first chase group caught the leaders on lap two of the bike and started to pull away from the pack of 12 girls behind them. At the end of lap two, the chase pack, which included Sweetland, was 90 seconds behind the leaders.

A pair of Brits, Blatchford and Jodie Stimpson, took charge of the lead group on lap three and continued to put time into the chasers. Frintova led group two with Sweetland right on her wheel. The pace of the leaders slowed as the women made their way onto the final lap of the bike and the chase group, now led by Sweetland, began making up big chunks of time.

Bennett led into the second transition and charged out onto the four-lap run course with a narrow lead on the big group behind her. Just behind the American were Stimpson, New Zealand’s Debbie Tanner and Canadian Kathy Tremblay. Frintova led the next group of women into transition only 30 seconds later, accompanied by Sweetland and a group of 10 other girls.

Five kilometres into the run, a lead group of six women had emerged, led by South Africa’s Kate Roberts. Keeping Roberts company were Stimpson, Sakimoto, Blatchford, Tanner and the Netherland’s Lisa Mensink, Frintova had pulled to within 25 seconds of the leaders at the halfway point of the run.

With just one lap to go, Frintova pulled up to within 10 seconds of Sakimoto and Blatchford, who were now by themselves at the front. The three women eventually came together and ran together or a brief moment, before Frintova put on a surge and pulled away from the other two women.

The Czech stopped the clock in 2:03:16 after posting a day’s best 35:54 run. Frintova finished just 12 seconds ahead of Sakimoto, who earned her first World Cup podium of her career.

Blatchford, who was competing in Mooloolaba for the tenth time, hung on for third, finishing another 16 seconds behind Sakimoto.

"I felt good through about seven kilometres of the run, but after that I couldn’t make any more moves," Blatchford said. "The last three kilometres was just survival for me just to get around the course."

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Fellow Brit Stimpson raced well to finish in sixth place in a time of 2:04:20.