Reigning Olympic Champion, Jan Frodeno of Germany, finally claimed his first major win outside of the Olympic Games today at the Yokohama Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Series in a time of 1 hour 44 minutes and 31 seconds. Thousands of spectators lined the streets of the city to watch a daring breakaway on the bike and a solid run by the German, giving him his first world series victory.
The opening swim was impressively lead by Josh Amberger from Australia, the young Aussie making his elite debut following a fourth place finish at last year’s ITU Triathlon Junior World Championships in Vancouver. As sea temperatures hung in the high twenties the warm marine conditions brought jellyfish in towards the shore, and unfortunately for Daniel Unger they got a bit too close for comfort. Having been stung on his neck during the warm up the German 2007 world champion suffered with breathing problems in the water and dropped out on the first lap of the bike.
Air temperatures out on the course stayed up in the high thirties although the humidity experienced in the women’s competition was not as fierce. Following 20km of riding the small chase pack made their way onto the back of the leaders which was countered by a strong attack by Courtney Atkinson. The Australian, a five time winner of the Ishigaki World Cup which is held in similar conditions, sprinted up the road from the chasers on a solo mission and was joined soon after by the German pairing of Frodeno and Maik Petzold.
With three of the big names in the breakaway the likes of Kris Gemmell, Javier Gomez and Bevan Docherty came to the front of the chase, picking up the pace to keep their advantage within a manageable distance come the run.
The leaders entered transition with a 41 second lead, but they were soon whittled down to just two as Petzold suffered in the heat. Further behind the chasing athletes started to string out with just Gemmell and Laurent Vidal from France able to handle the fast Gomez pace as the Spaniard set about closing down on the Olympic champion.
As Frodeno put his head down and accelerated again Atkinson dropped back into the clutches of the closing trio who reduced the German’s advantage to just 25 seconds with 5km left to run. Remarkably, despite his fatigue, Frodeno was able to respond and pulled away again, buoyed on the possibility of winning his first Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Series race.
Once in the home straight the elation spread across the leader’s face and with time to spare the Olympic gold medallist slapped hands and played to the large crowd gathered at the finish line. Further behind Gemmell kicked away from Gomez to take second, just one week after finishing third in London. Gomez had to settle for third with Vidal in fourth. Fifth went to Bevan Docherty from New Zealand, the Beijing Olympic bronze medallist returning to action following a month break.
“After Hamburg I was really disappointed and I went back to the drawing board to refocus. I went to the gym and did some weight sessions and had a few check ups, I’m just really glad it came together.” said Frodeno. “Today was awesome. Thanks to the boys, Atko [Courtney Atkinson] and Maik [Petzold]. If they hadn’t gone on the bike you never know what would have happened. I’m already looking ahead with one eye on next season. I’ll take this win with confidence. Having just one win can make a season, so I can go home a happy man.”
“I asked him [Gomez] if he was ready for a sprint and he said ‘no, not really’, and I said ‘yeah, me neither’,” laughed Gemmell. “I said before London that the goal was the end of the year and my form is coming together and I’m really happy and really impressed that I’m back doing well after last week. What a great day for Frodeno, anyone who races like that deserves to win, he was just brilliant!”
“It was an uncomfortable and complicated week with the long trip from London and with the crash last weekend it meant I couldn’t sleep and train well so the podium is good but it was not a good day for me,” said Gomez. “The main problem was the heat, I felt a bit slow.”
The duo of Atkinson and Petzold ultimately paid the price for the breakaway, fading throughout the run to finish in eight and tenth respectively.
Gemmell’s second place moves him into third in the rankings. Gomez’s third place keeps him in second and within 351 points of series leader Alistair Brownlee heading to the Grand Final in Gold Coast, Australia in three weeks time.
Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Series
1st – Alistair Brownlee (GBR) 3,200 pts
2nd – Javier Gomez (ESP) 2,849
3rd – Kris Gemmell (NZL) 2,559
4th – Maik Petzold (GER) 2,493
5th –Laurent Vidal (FRA) 2,404
Yokohama Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Series
1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run
Elite Men – Official Results
Gold – Jan Frodeno (GER) 01:44:31
Silver – Kris Gemmell (NZL) 01:44:49 +:18
Bronze – Javier Gomez (ESP) 01:44:52 +:21
4th – Laurent Vidal (FRA) 01:45:05 +:34
5th – Bevan Docherty (NZL) 01:45:39 +1:08
6th – Jarrod Shoemaker (USA) 01:45:49 +1:18
7th – Yulian Malyshev (RUS) 01:45:51 +1:20
8th – Courtney Atkinson (AUS) 01:46:07 +1:36
9th – Dan Wilson (AUS) 01:46:18 +1:47
10th – Maik Petzold (GER) 01:46:35 +2:04
Photos: Delly Carr