Mirroring the London 2012 Olympic Games, the women’s race witnessed a spectacular sprint finish and this time Sweden’s Lisa Norden was not denied gold, beating Germany’s Anne Haug to claim her second straight victory int he 2012 ITU World Triathlon Series. Rising Dutch star Maaike Caelers grabbed the final spot on the podium.
Portugal’s Joao Silva outpaced Spain’s Javier Gomez on the final lap of the run to take his second consecutive ITU World Triathlon Yokohama win while Russia’s Dmitry Polyanskiy took bronze.
The Women’s Race
After a few days of strong winds and choppy waters, the elite women were greeted by glorious conditions with sunshine and very little wind. U.S. Olympian Sarah Groff was in front early but surprisingly Rachel Klamer led the women out of the water and into T1. She was followed closely by Groff and Emma Moffatt.
Three distinct packs formed early in the 40km bike course, including 19 women in the lead pack. They were pursued by a chase pack of nine which included a number of stellar runners including Haug, Barbara Riveros Diaz, Ashleigh Gentle, Gwen Jorgensen, and Mariko Adachi.
A further 90 seconds behind that group were Ai Ueda and Felicity Sheedy-Ryan who were facing a two-minute deficit.
The leaders began the bike with a 50-second lead, but the group’s reluctance to work on staying away from the chase, coupled with Haug’s relentless tenacity on the bike, resulted in a big group of 28 women riding together at the beginning of the fourth lap.
The battle for the podium was ahead of them and early on the flat 10km run course, a group of seven women emerged at the front. Among them were Norden, Haug, Moffatt, Caelers, Gentle, Riveros and Densham.
Gentle and Moffatt both pushed the pace and traded the lead as they passed the midway point of the run while Norden waited for her moment to strike.
Norden and Haug entered the long 240m finish chute together and began a furious sprint to the line. Haug broke away first but Norden quickly caught up, seizing the lead and never relinquishing it as she hit the finish tape first in a time of 1 hour, 59 minutes, and 7 seconds. It was her second title in Yokohama after taking the title in 2009.
“It’s the first major event after a couple of races that I did and I am getting into very good shape,” said Norden. “Coming to Japan with such a nice atmosphere and getting very well welcomed is so important for me. Maybe it is the sushi that works of my favour.”
The Men’s Race
Portugal’s Joao Silva sizzled under the Yokoham sun today, besting Spain’s Javier Gomez on the final lap of the run to take his second consecutive ITU World Triathlon Yokohama win. Russia’s Dmitry Polyanskiy followed close behind for bronze just one week after winning the Tongyeong ITU Triathlon World Cup.
A breakaway on the last lap of the bike by Yuichi Hosoda (JPN) and Kris Gemmell (NZL) went at such a pace that the two could not keep up with the leaders on the run and Gomez soon pulled into the lead. By the bell lap Silva had caught the Spaniard and was pushing a few metres ahead, holding on to the line to claim his second straight Yokohama title.
“I had a tough season with lots of injures in the beginning. I’m glad I recovered in time for the Olympics and the end of the season,” said Silva. “I’m really, really pleased with this result here. I’m really emotional as some of the best moments of my career are here so I’m really proud to perform like this in Yokohama.”
The men’s race began under rising humidity levels and it was Richard Varga (SVK) who led the field out of the water after a two lap swim. Close behind were Russians Ivan Vasiliev, Igor Polyanskiy, Dmitry Polyanskiy and Denis Vasiliev along with Gomez and Japan’s Hirokatsu Tayama heading up the large pack entering T1.
On the first lap the riders formed a large group out in front with two main chase packs, but by the end of lap one the first chase pack including Gemmell, Joao Pereira (POR), Sven Riederer (SUI) and Laurent Vidal (FRA) had caught up, creating around 24 out ahead.
This main pack stayed together with a number of failed breakaway attempts until Hosoda and Gemmell raced ahead on the penultimate lap gaining 20 seconds on the rest of the field. By the end of the bell lap the pair had gained even more time and with a 50-second lead, collectively claiming the day’s bike prime of $20,000
Behind, Pierre Le Corre (FRA), Gomez, Silva and Vidal turned up the pace to catch the runaways out of T2. Within the first lap the pair had been swallowed up and Gomez appeared strong with a six second gap ahead of Dmitry Polyanskiy and Silva followed by the small group of Vidal, Adam Bowden (GBR) and David Hauss (FRA).
With a lap and half to go Silva made his move and began to pull away from Polyanskiy. The Russian responded and bridged the gap to join Gomez and Silva up front. By the closing stages Polyanskiy had slightly dropped off the pace and Silva powered ahead, gaining metres over Gomez all the way down the finish chute.
2012 ITU World Triathlon Yokohama
Top 5 Men
1. Joao Silva (POR) 01:48:44
2. Javier Gomez (ESP) 01:48:57
3. Dmitry Polyanskiy (RUS) 01:49:10
4. Laurent Vidal (FRA) 01:49:23
5. David Hauss (FRA) 01:49:43
Top 5 Women
1. Lisa Norden (SWE) 01:59:07
2. Anne Haug (GER) 01:59:08
3. Maaike Caelers (NED) 01:59:12
4. Emma Moffatt (AUS) 01:59:16
5. Erin Densham (AUS) 01:59:22