Summer Cook posted a by-far race-best 34:27 10k run split to finish in 2:00:06 with a 36 seconds margin over runner-up Claire Michel of Belgium and 56 seconds over 3rd-place finisher Lisa Perterer of Austria.
Riding in a 36-women lead pack on the bike, Cook and Michel took a 10-seconds lead on the first of 4 laps of the run. Cook then took a 6 seconds lead on Michel on the second lap as Perterer and Yulia Yelistratova fell back.
At the midway point of the run, Michel fell further back with leg cramp as Cook cruised to a comfortable win and Perterer outsprinted Yelistratova for the final spot on the podium.
“I am really happy,” Cook told ITU media. “I am very excited at all the hard work paying off. Today was the first time I was able to execute some of those things I have been working on.”
Michel recalled that helpless feeling as she tried to stay with Cook.
“I was having some cramps so those last two laps were just up here in my head,” she told ITU media. “The physical was what it was. I just tried to keep the gap as low as possible, that was all I could do.”
Cook, whose previous best results were a 2nd at the 2015 Alanya World Cup and 4th place at Chengdu last year, was excited for her breakthrough win.
“I raced here last year and there was a pack of 60 girls off the bike and I expected the same again this year,” she said. “Finding good position going into T2 was the one of the few things I didn’t execute well though! But I positioned myself better towards the front of the bike pack and am confident moving forward.”
Michel took 3rd place at this race last year and was thrilled with her result.
“I had a really hard start to the season and with these races in the final stages of the Olympic qualification period, so it couldn’t have come at a better time,” she told ITU media. “I know I am fighting for one of those last spots (for Rio). In 2015 I had injuries throughout the season and missed at least half a dozen races so I am playing catch up and racing against the clock.”
Perterer was happy she overcame illness and jet lag to make the podium.
“I have had so many races [this year] and after the flight to China I felt really sick,” she said. “The swim I felt good but … I was struggling a lot with the temperature. With some girls in our group we pushed really hard to catch the first group. The run was just surviving for me today. I was a little angry that I was running in front all the time but this gives me more motivation to sprint.”
Perterer ran 35:27 to beat Yelistratova by 4 seconds at the finish.
Chengdu World Cup
April 16, 2016
S 1.5k / B 40k / R 10k
1. Summer Cook (USA) 2:00:06
2. Claire Michel (BEL) 2:00:42
3. Lisa Perterer (AUT) 2:01:02
4. Yuliya Yelistratova (UKR) 2:01:06
5. Julia Hauser (AUT) 2:01:20
6. Anastasia Abrosimova (RUS) 2:01:28
7. Miriam Casillas Garcia (ESP) 2:01:41
8. Valentina Zapatrina (RUS) 2:01:44
9. Elena Danilova (RUS) 2:01:48
10. Yi Zhang (CHN) 2:01:53