The courses may have been a mixture of new and old on the ITU World Cup circuit this year, but the podiums were filled with first-time winners in 2011. There were a total of 10 new World Cup winners, and a host more new World Cup medallists, including the first in history for Poland and Slovenia.
The season opened in Mooloolaba for the fifth straight year, and Australia’s Brad Kahlefeldt duly saluted at home, and moved himself up to equal sixth all time World Cup winners list with seven overall, while Brendan Sexton and David Hauss claimed their first cup medals with silver and bronze. In the women’s race, New Zealand’s Nicky Samuels rode a bike breakaway to the win, ahead of Emma Moffatt and Barbara Riveros Diaz.
Then it was off to Ishigaki, for its sweet 16th birthday. The now legendary Japanese island always has an amazing atmosphere and this was no different, as fans watched Hunter Kemper claim his first cup win since 2005, and Artem Parienko and Marek Jaskolka collect their first medals. Jaskolka’s was the first medal for Poland. Barbara Riveros Diaz had already won a Dextro Energy Triathlon Series race in her career, but hadn’t yet secured a World Cup win. But that changed in Ishigaki, when she completed an early season set of medals for the Chilean star, after bronze in Mooloolaba and silver in Sydney. Aileen Morrison (IRL) claimed silver and Kiyomi Niwata (JPN) bronze.
Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS), Nicky Samuels (NZL)
Hunter Kemper (USA), Barbara Riveros Diaz (CHI)
Brendan Sexton (AUS), Sarah Haskins (USA)
Bevan Docherty (NZL), Ashleigh Gentle (AUS)
Brent McMahon (CAN), Gwen Jorgensen (USA)
Matt Chrabot (USA), Ai Ueda (JPN)
Dmitry Polyansky (RUS), Jessica Harrison (FRA)
Etienne Diemunsch (FRA), Carole Peon (FRA)
AUCKLAND, New Zealand
Kris Gemmell (NZL), Andrea Hewitt (NZL)
Up next was a hot day in Monterrey and there were two more first-time winners, with Australia’s Brendan Sexton and the USA’s Sarah Haskins. They beat home Frederic Belaubre (FRA) and Hunter Kemper (USA), and Ai Ueda (JPN) and Anne Haug (GER) respectively.
In Edmonton, the big news was Paula Findlay’s chance to race at home. Sadly that all ended in tears on race day, when Findlay was forced to pull out with a hip injury. In her absence, Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle claimed her maiden title ahead of Mateja Simic. But it was almost as good as a win for Simic, it was her first major ITU medal, and the first in history for Slovenia. Austria’s Lisa Perterer finished third. In the men’s race, Bevan Docherty took up where he left off from five years earlier when he beat France’s Aurelien Lescure. Kemper continued his excellent run of form with bronze. Docherty won the last world cup in Edmonton before this year, in 2007.
It might have only been a week after the London series round where she claimed silver – her first series medal and an Olympic spot – but that didn’t seem to affect Gwen Jorgsensen one bit when she came to Tiszaujvaros and conquered. Italy’s Annamaria Mazzetti won silver and Russia’s Irina Abysova took the bronze. In the 15th year of the race, Canadian veteran Brent McMahon showed that hard work does pay off, with his first win in thrilling fashion. He came from behind on the run to beat Great Britain’s Aaron Harris, while Hungary’s Akos Vanek had his home crowd on their feet with his bronze medal.
The World Cup series then returned to Mexico for the second time this year, the only country to host more than one World Cup. The USA’s Matt Chrabot started as one of the favourites, but after a bike crash it looked a tough ask. But he manage to reel in South Africa’s Richard Murray, who claimed silver, in the final two laps of the run. Portugal’s Bruno Pais claimed bronze. In the women’s race, Juri Ide kept up the Japanese run of wins in Huatulco, while Mazzetti claimed her second consecutive silver. Spain’s Marina Damlaimcourt broke through for her first career trip to the World Cup podium, securing the bronze.
Then came Tongyeong – that hosted the inaugural Dextro Energy Triathlon Series round in 2009. Russia’s Dmitry Polyansky notched up his first win of the year, while Spain’s Jose Miguel Perez and Belgium’s Simon De Cuyper both claimed their first world cup medals. In the women’s race there was another first, 13 years after her first world cup race France’s Jessica Harrison finally claimed her first win. Ireland’s Morrison took another silver, and Spain’s Zurine Rodriguez third.
But Harrison’s win kickstarted a French run that continued over in Guatape, in the first World Cup race in Colombia since 1992, and the only brand new destination on the 2011 schedule this year. Both races were shortened to sprint distance due to landslides, but France’s run of first-time winners kept on rolling with Etienne Diemunsch and Tony Moulai going 1-3, with Mexico’s Mexico’s Crisanto Grajales sandwiched in the middle. In the women’s Carole Peon edged out Tomoko Sakimoto and Rodriguez again, who claimed her second consecutive podium. It was just the second time that France have swept a world cup podium.
The final World Cup of the year offered up a tanstalising preview at next year’s ITU Triathlon World Series Grand Final, and well, it showed it was going to be a tough one. Andrea Hewitt capped off her brilliant late season form with a devastating win, by almost a minute, while Kris Gemmell made it a Kiwi double with his emotional win. Gemmell had said before the race that he was dedicating it to a cousin who had been diagnosed with cancer, and spelled out the letters ‘Tim’ on the final finishing chute on his way to his fifth World Cup win. It was just the second time that New Zealand have swept a podium. Japan’s women filled the other two podium spots, Sakimoto claimed her second consecutive silver while Mariko Adachi finished third. In the men’s, Bevan Docherty made it a Kiwi 1-2 with Australia’s Ryan Fisher collecting bronze.
That final World Cup result also helped New Zealand’s tie bragging rights with the USA as most successful World Cup nation in 2011, both had four wins this year. Australia and France had three each. Overall though, France won the most World Cup medals in 2011 with seven, three gold, two silver and two bronze. Hunter Kemper finished as the most successful athlete in the World Cup series, with one win, one silver and one bronze.
To see what is on the calendar for the 2012 ITU World Cup series, please click here.