While Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee struggled to an off-form 14th place finish almost 7 minutes off the pace, Olympic silver medalist Javier Gomez got a measure of redemption and a $151,500-plus check for his dominating win at the Hy-Vee Elite Cup men’s race in Des Moines, Iowa.
“It was a really hard race,” Gomez told Hy-Vee media. “It was more about fighting the sun and high temperatures and trying to maintain a good pace.” Gomez took the lead from defending champion Greg Bennett on the second lap of the run and never had a doubt on his way to the victory.
Gomez dominated the swim with an 18:57 split that was 15 seconds clear of his nearest pursuer, then let folks like Ben Collins, Greg Bennett, Matt Reed, Josh Amberger and Hunter Kemper push the pace on the bike. By the time the field hit T2, Gomez was 7th, 59 seconds off the lead. But by the end of the first lap of the 4-lap run, Gomez turned on the jets and pulled within 6 seconds of an impressive surge by hard charging 40-year-old defending champion Greg Bennett.
At the start of the second lap of the run, Gomez was firing on all cylinders and flew by Bennett, never to be tested on his way to a 1:51:21 finish which brought him home 38 seconds ahead of 37-year-old Hunter Kemper, who passed Bennett on the last lap. Kemper thus redeemed a disappointing 14th place Olympic finish and repeated his 2nd-place 2011 Hy-Vee finish, taking home the $75,000 2nd place check.
“It’s a strong man’s course,” an exhausted Kemper told Hy-Vee media after the race. “The whole day was hard.”
Bennett, who charged hard to come from a 43 seconds deficit after the swim to a 21 seconds lead after the bike, held tough to take a $50,000 check for third place and a very nice defense, at age 40, of his 2011 Hy-Vee crown.
Bevan Docherty of New Zealand, a 2004 ITU World Champion and Olympic silver medalist and the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, had a nice return to form after a disappointing Olympics to take 4th place, 22 seconds back of Bennett. New Zealand born U.S. citizen Matt Reed also had a nice comeback after a disappointing 2012 by taking 5th place, 38 seconds back of Docherty.
Olympic champion Brownlee briefly threatened on the bike but faded on the run and was never in the mix.
“This race was completely different than the Olympics because of the heat,” Gomez told Hy-Vee media while sitting in a tub of ice after the race. “But I pushed hard the whole time. It was a good race and a good win.”
Ben Collins, who charged into the lead on the first lap of the bike, broke a wheel and after limping to the wheel exchange soldiered home 24th in 2:01:53. Collins had similar misfortune last year when he bolted into a big lead on the bike but had to withdraw when he broke a foot on the run.
Hy-Vee Elite Triathlon – 5150 U.S. Championship
Des Moines, Iowa
September 2, 2012
S 1.5 k / B k / R 10k
Elite Men’s Results
1. Javier Gomez (ESP) 1:51:21 -- $151,500
2. Hunter Kemper (USA) 1:51:59 -- $75,000
3. Greg Bennett (USA) 1:52:24 -- $50,000
4. Bevan Docherty (NZL) 1:52:46 -- $25,000
5. Matty Reed (USA) 1:53:24 - $20,000
6. Stuart Hayes (GBR) 1:53:38 -- $18,000
7. Josh Amberger (AUS) 1:54:34 -- $16,000
8. Clark Ellice (NZL) 1:54:46 -- $14,000
9. David Thompson (USA) 1:55:18 -- $12,000
10. Paul Matthews (AUS) 1:55:55 -- $10,000