Mexico are one of the final few countries to have held their Triathlon World Cup event with nations across the world able to enter Triathletes to compete to gain qualification points for the London 2012 Olympic Games coming up. The event which took place in Huatulco, Mexico on Saturday saw 30 women go head to head whilst there were 56 competitors in the men’s event.
It was a very hot afternoon in Mexico which made race conditions even harder than the usual for the athletes which resulted in a lot of casualties with athletes feeling the force of the conditions. With the water and air temperatures reaching high amounts, it was extremely gruelling circumstances for the athletes. Five women did not finish the event whilst as many as 11 male competitors dropped out. The women athletes had it slightly easier as they started in the morning with a narrowly cooler temperature whereas the men kicked off closer to noon with the temperature at its highest for the day.
Despite the rising temperatures, Bermuda’s Flora Duffy managed to win her first-ever World Cup event at the Huatulco ITU Triathlon event in Mexico. Flora Duffy managed to complete the course in 2:13:17 which was a very good time considering the race conditions she and the other Triathletes were dealing with. Duffy’s excellent transition time in the first lap gave her the chance to sprint off ahead of the chasing pack which essentially put her in good stead to win the event.
In the end, the Bermuda athlete who participated at the Beijing Olympics only to be disqualified for being lapped managed to finish 30 seconds ahead of her next rival in 2nd place. Brazil’s Pamela Oliveira in similar fashion to Flora Duffy secured her first-ever World Cup medal which enabled her to get vital Olympic Qualification points with her efforts in Huatulco, Mexico. Oliveria’s 2nd place position climbed her up the current Women’s Olympic Rankings for London 2012, raising her 12 places from 68th to 56th, overtaking fellow Brazilian Triathlete Carla Morena in the process.
Completing the final 3 podium positions was original home favourite Claudia Rivas. Despite being the favourite to take the gold medal in her home country, Claudia Rivas was a little off the pace in the run which saw her drop vital seconds behind the 2 front runners. Claudia Rivas was the fastest in the water for the opening part of the race but a slow transition time in T1 meant she was playing catch up in the bike ride which lead to fatigue in the latter parts of the race for Rivas.
The ITU development team also managed to maintain 2 Triathletes in the top 10 in Mexico. Ukraines Yuliya Yelistratova finished in 7th with fellow Team ITU competitors Mateja Simic of Slovenia 30 seconds behind her in 8th.
The Huatulco ITU Triathlon World Cup 2012 Event was overshadowed with slight concerns when Czech Republic Triathlete, Vendula Frintova collapsed with just less than 50 metres to the finish line and was carried off by medics for treatment. Due to the extremely hot conditions which proved to be too much for Frintova, her collapse dropped her unfortunately out of the top 10 position where she was running.
With the women’s event taking place first in the morning, the men had to endure even tougher and hotter conditions for the Huatulco ITU Triathlon World Cup event as the men’s event started closer to noon. The temperature of the water got to its highest at 28.6 degree Celsius and the Triathletes also had to complete the event with the run just as the sun reached its peak temperature.
However, in contrast to the women’s race that was completed earlier in the day, there were a number of athletes who enjoyed a spell in first position and wasn’t a 1 person contender for the gold medal position. Belgium’s Simon de Cuyper however was in 1st position when it most mattered as he crossed the finishing line in a leading time of 02:02:34, 16 seconds ahead of 2nd placed Ryan Sissons of New Zealand.
Simon de Cuyper evidently proved the term, ‘it is a marathon not a sprint’, as he was trailing around 2 minutes behind the leaders at some stages of the race. But the Belgian Triathlete stormed past 13 men in the third lap to take the gold medal. The 500 qualifications points that came with the gold medal position were extremely helpful towards de Cuyper’s chances of competing at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Ranked just inside the top 100 before the men’s event in Mexico, the 500 points took him up 26 positions into 68th in the men’s rankings.
France’s Aurelien Raphael was the first man to lead the event when he exited the water ahead of his trailing competitors to storm into the lead and his first lap of the bike was equally as impressive as he gained a 31 second lead. The intensity he set at the start of the event clearly took its toll as his pace began to deteriorate for the following two laps of the bike as his rivals began to catch up to the Frenchman.
Whilst eventual gold and silver medals winners De Cuyper and Sissons were in the distance, their patience was eventually rewarded. Bermuda nearly managed to achieve a podium position in both the women’s and men’s events but unfortunately Tyler Butterfield fell 10 seconds short of Bronze placed Danylo Sapunov of Ukraine for the ITU development team.
Despite the hot and humid conditions that the athletes were dealt with, Simon De Cuyper managed to find the energy and determination and win his first ITU World Cup in Huatulco, Mexico on Sunday.
With the Huatulco ITU Event now over, there are just 2 remaining events for athletes to battle it out for those remaining Qualification points to gain for London 2012. The San Diego event in USA and then the final event in Madrid, Spain are what Triathletes face before London 2012 Olympics.