South Africa's Conrad Stoltz made it a hat-trick of ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships wins with an impressive performance at The Hague-Kijkduin. Meanwhile, in the women's race reining winter triathlon champion Helena Erboneva (CZE) made her way to the top of the podium with a crushing performance.
"The Caveman" won in 2011 and 2012 and looked as strong as ever, holding off a valiant challenge from Spain's Ruben Ruzafa in the closing stages of the 1km swim, 26km bike, 9km cross country run race. Stoltz finished in two hours, one minute and 38 seconds, with Ruzafa claiming silver in 02:01:52 and France's Brice Daubord completing the podium in a time of 02:02:37.
Stoltz exited the swim in seventh place but it wasn't long before his world championship pedigree began to show. By the end of the first lap on the bike he had taken a lead which he never let go.
It was no surprise to see world-class mountain biker Ruzafa burst through the field during the bike leg. Ruzafa exited the water in 15th place but his expertise on the bike saw him climb into second going into T2, just over one minute behind Stoltz.
Where there was a little more surprise was the fact that Ruzafa gave Stoltz a real fight in the closing stages of the run. Ruzafa blistered through the second and third laps as Stoltz tired, but he was unable to overtake the South African.
After a strong swim, Daubord slipped a few places in the bike, but came back stronger during the run to push back into bronze medal position, finishing almost 30 seconds ahead of Belgium's Kris Coddens, who clocked 02:03:04.
Czech Republic's Helena Erbenova stormed to victory to claim gold medal in the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships at The Hague-Kijkduin. Erbenova finished in two hours, 22 minutes and 11 seconds, a massive five minutes ahead of 2012 champion Lesley Paterson (GBR), who took silver in 02:27:25. Chantell Widney (CAN) claimed bronze in 02:30:43.
It was a case of déjà vu for spectators in the Netherlands after Erbenova won the 2012 European Cross Triathlon title on the same course. The Czech now adds the Cross Triathlon gold medal to the world championship title she won at the 2013 ITU Winter Triathlon World Championships in Cogne in Italy.
Erbenova was two minutes behind the leaders after the 1km swim but put in a powerful display on the 26km mountain bike leg to enter T2 with a three-minute lead. Erbenova didn't slow down in the 9km cross-country run, extending her lead to five minutes by the time she crossed the line for gold.
With Erbenova not looking like she could be caught during the sandy cross country run, the race to see who joined her on the podium intensified, and it was Paterson and Widney who rose to the challenge. A 50:16 run by Bucher cost her a chance of a medal, while Slack wasn't able to make up enough ground and finished in fifth.