Emerging Australian triathlete Ryan Fisher has backed himself to win a dramatic sprint finish in today’s third ITU Triathlon World Cup in Chengdu, China.
The Queensland-born Victorian based Fisher stood tall when he burst from the pack to win only his second ever World Cup event that saw almost the entire field band together to form huge packs throughout the Olympic distance race.
It all came down to a frantic sprint finish and it was the determined Danielle Stefano coached VIS athlete, Fisher who reigned supreme.
The former Australian Under 23 representative was able to break away at the very end to cross the finish line in a time of1:46:07 to claim his first gold medal since he won the 2013 Ishigaki ITU World Cup in 2013.
Rostyslav Pevtsov from Azerbaijan came away with the silver medal, while American Kevin McDowell won the bronze.
Fisher’s fellow Victorian Peter Kerr ran on bravely to take sixth in 1:46.22; Queensland-based former WA athlete Kenji Nener was 14th in 1:46.59; Fisher’s VIS-training partner Matt Baker was 20th in 1:47.16 and the ACT’s Jesse Featonby 25th in 1:47.38.
The women’s race saw WA’s former ITU Duathlon World Champion Felicity Sheedy-Ryan, fresh from her victory in last Sunday’s SunSmart IRONMAN 70.3 Busselton, finish sixth in a sterling performance, easily the best of the Australians.
But it was Fisher’s day to shine and he was delighted on his return to ITU racing after some time away with injury.
“I am over the moon to be honest, I wasn’t 100 percent sure what sort of form I was in, I have only raced a couple of local races so far this year,” said Fisher.
“It has been a long time since I have done an ITU race so this is a big confidence booster to come out here for my first race of the year and race like that.”
As for the sprint, Fisher wasn’t sure how that would play out.
“I have always had confidence in my sprint but at the end of 10 kilometres it is not always the best sprinter who wins, it is the athlete who has a little bit left.
“I went on to the blue carpet in second place and there was three of us and – I don’t want to see the video as it won’t look good, I just closed my eyes and went for it, it was probably a bit ugly.”
Pevtsov as delighted with his podium, the second of his career.
“I give that everything today, I have nothing else, the others were too good in the finish but I am delighted, this is a very good race for me and I am very happy,” said Pevtsov.
McDowell stood on the podium for a second successive year on the Chengdu course and venue that he enjoys.
“I do like it here, it is a great event, everyone puts on a great show and I love coming here, they know how to put on a triathlon on a course that is designed for the sport, I am happy to be back,” said McDowell.
The race started with two laps in the warm Chinese waters and Marten Van Riel (BEL) showcased that he was the strongest swimmer of the day after he led after the first lap and exited first from the swim heading into the first transition.
The bike leg did little to separate the leaders from the rest and after the first lap with Irving Perez (MEX) holding a slight advantage in a leading pack of 10, but the advantage didn’t hold.
A massive 46-strong group formed and remained consistent for the next four laps.
On the final lap Kophei Tsubaki (JPN) and Gaspar Riveros (CHI) broke away but he 44-man pack they left behind were only a mere 28 seconds back coming into T2 and had grown even larger as the chasers caught them to form a massive group of 60 plus athletes.
That second chase group, which was led at times by young New Zealander Cooper Rand had done well to join the leaders.
Down by over a minute after the first lap, they were able to close the gap to cause major chaos in the transition zone, forming an impressive herd that left all predictions down to the run.
Despite sporting the top-seeded number one to start the race, Kiwi Olympian Ryan Sissons suffered a puncture during the first lap that caused him to ride a full lap on a flat.
The setback put him too far behind to make up the difference and he was forced to pull out of the race.
In the women’s race, American Renee Tomlin demonstrated her athletic ability by not only taking home the gold medal but she did so in a come-from-behind performance.
Tomlin’s win is a first for the former track runner who has been in the sport for just over a year but today signalled that she looks to have a long and successful career ahead of her, adding yet another name to the long list of impressive American women currently dominating the sport.
The American won in a time of 1:58:16, coming home in second on the day was Arina Shulgina (RUS) with Lisa Petrterer (AURT) third.
Tomlin is learning with each race and put some of those lessons from earlier in the season to good use today in temperatures that reached mid-thirties Celsius and felt much hotter.
“I guess coming off Mooloolaba where it was hot there and having some nutrition and hydration issues and having another hot race here I said ‘I have to nail it’ and thankfully I did. I made sure those things were a priority, I am only a year into the sport and these are things I am still learning about coming from a 4 minute race into a 2 hour race,” said Tomlin.
Sheedy-Ryan showed no ill-affects from last Sunday’s brilliant 70.3 victory in WA to produce an outstanding sixth, well ahead of her four younger Australian rivals.