Twenty-five men advanced to the finals at the Tiszaujvaros ITU Triathlon World Cup on Saturday, led by semifinal winners Lukas Verzbicas (USA), Bryce McMaster (ITU) and Andrey Bryukhankov (RUS). Of the three men, Bryukhankov from the third semifinal posted the top time of 53 minutes, 42 seconds.
In its 16th year hosting a World Cup event, ITU and Tiszaujvaros opted to depart from the traditional Olympic distance race style to try out a a two-day sprint semifinal and final format. The top eight in each heat advanced to semifinal action, in addition to one athlete who posted the 25th-fastest time. Finals will take place Sunday 15 July at 4:50pm local time.
“It definitely plays into the hands of a different style of athlete,” McMaster said. “It means we see a lot more juniors and developing athletes starting to come through. It’s exciting and it’s fun. It’s a great sign the sport’s still developing.”
Rising American star Verzbicas, known for his back-end run speed, got off to a to a slow start in the 750m swim. He entered the long transition in 22nd place, 46 seconds back from leader Alois Knabl (AUT). But with strong legs, he powered through the first lap to join a chase group just ten seconds behind then-leader Nils Frommhold (GER).
On the second half of the bike course, nearly the entire heat merged together, apart from Aleksandr Latin (EST) who enjoyed a 16-second lead. Down 21 seconds, Verzbicas sprinted through a beastly first run lap to pull even with Gonzalo Tellechea (ARG), Jesus Gomar (ESP), and Pierre Le Corre (FRA). No match for the teenager, Verzbicas steadily pulled ahead with each lap to finish with a cool 16-second lead to cross the finish line in 54 minutes, 27 seconds. Not surprisingly, Verzbicas clocked the day’s fastest run split at 15 minutes flat.
“It was all about qualifying,” Verzbicas said. “I was in a good position out of T2. I wanted to test these guys legs to see where they’re at. Then I backed off and got ready for tomorrow, because tomorrow is where it counts.”
Le Corre finished second while Gomar came across third. Tellechea and Vicente Hernandez rounded out the top five.
In the men’s second semifinal, McMaster never relinquished control of the heat. South African Henri Schoeman bolted out to a small six-second lead in the swim. However, Shoeman’s lead dwindled to just one second when McMaster and Igor Polyanskiy (RUS) ran through transition ten seconds faster than the South African.
A group of seven men quickly formed at the front of the bike course, McMaster being one of them. He continued to sit just behind the various leaders throughout the two-lap bike course, never falling more than two seconds back.
“I really wanted to work my swim-bike, and it actually worked out perfect,” McMaster said. “I got a seven-man breakaway from the swim. We worked really hard on the bike, which meant we put big time into the big second group.”
McMaster stuck with this plan until the first run lap when he pulled even with leaders Dan Wilson (AUS) and Stefan Zachaeus (GER). McMaster ran even with Wilson on the second lap, then stretched out to a nine-second advantage heading into the finish line. McMaster took the semifinal in 54 minutes, 4 seconds.
Zachaeus finished nine seconds behind in second place while Polyanskiy finished third. Not far after, Wilson and Davide Uccellari completed the top five.
The quickest action of the day came from the last semifinal, where four men posted times under 54 minutes. France’s Anthony Pujades and Aurelien Raphael took the lead after the swim, exiting the water with a minimal advantage.
Four men quickly worked together to break away from the pack, gaining a 44-second advantage on the first lap. Pujades and Bryukhankov were amongst the four riding in front. The pair then headed onto the run course in the top two positions, dropping Hungarian’s Balazs Pocsai and Raphael on the first lap.
Pujades and Bryukhankov ran shoulder to shoulder until the final few meters when Bryukhankov sprinted forward to post the day’s best time of 53 minutes, 42 seconds.
Both Pujades and Bryukhankov will enter the final alongside two of their teammates. Hungary and Australia also qualified three men for Sunday’s event.
Rouault recorded the fastest run split in this semifinal to stage a great comeback and finished in fourth place. Patrick Rhyner (SUI) came across in fifth.
Finals get underway Sunday 15 July at 4:50pm local time. Follow live on triathlon.org/live
tagsigor polyanskiy bryce mcmaster anthony pujades andrey bryukhankov jesus gomar lukas verzbicas pierre le corre stefan zachaeus