After Day 1 and Day 2 wins, Richard Murray took third place in the Day 3 Eliminator format and thus captured the $100,000 check for the overall title at the Super League Triathlon at Hamilton Island, Australia.
On a bike and run course made slick due to torrential rains a few hours before the start, 13 competitors were eliminated in the first two of three sprint distance swim-bike-run stages. With two-time Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee withdrawing due to illness before the start of the day, 10 of the original 24 invited competitors qualified to contest the final 300 meter swim, 6 kilometer bike and 2 kilometer run stage.
After cautious strategy prevailed in which competitors simply tried to save energy and avoid elimination by finishing in the top 15 in round one and in the top 10 in round two, it was all-out redline in the final round.
Points leader Murray put it best when he said, “big gear, no fear” before the Round 3 swim start. With the overall standings determined by the points accumulated each day, Murray’s 40 points for his Day 1 and Day 2 wins made him the prohibitive favorite – he only needed to finish 7th or better to clinch the title. With a 4th and a 3rd place finish on Days 1 and 2, Mola needed to win Day 3 and hope that Murray had bad luck in the final round.
As usual, Richard Varga led the final round swim, followed closely by Igor Polyanskiy, Jake Birtwhistle, and Henri Schoeman with Murray, Ryan Bailie and Javier Gomez mid pack and Kristian Blummenfelt and Mario Mola at the back.
On the first of five times riding up steep Mango Tree Hill, Birtwhistle took the first lead, followed closely by Murray and Schoeman. Soon thereafter, the deck was shuffled and reshuffled as Polyanskiy charged to the front and took a 35 meter lead, with Murray and Varga leading the chase. Next Varga and Birtwhistle took the front, followed by Schoeman. On lap three Ryan Fisher charged into the lead, then Blummenfelt.
After a closely packed arrival in T2, Birtwhistle, Mola and Murray surged to the front at the start of the run. Midway through the 2k run, Mola took the lead and Birtwhistle stuck close. Murray, after redlining to wins on Days 1 and 2, seemed to have lost some energy and fell back slightly in third place. Nearing the finish, Birtwhistle had the most left in the tank and surged to a 30 meter margin of victory over Mola and another 20 meters on Murray. Murray easily earned the 56 points (1st-1st-3rd) for the first overall $100,000 check. Birtwhistle’s finish line sprint cinched 3rd place overall (9th-2nd-1st) and a $30,000 check, falling one point short of Mola’s 49 points (4th-3rd-2nd) and the second overall check of $50,000.
Super League Triathlon – Day 3
Hamilton Island, Queensland, Australia
March 19, 2017
Round 1 - S 300m / B 6k / R 2k
Round 2 - S 300m / B 6k / R 2k
Round 3 - S 300m / B 6k / R 2k
Day 3 Eliminator Finish
1. Jake Birtwhistle (AUS) 58:47
2. Mario Mola (ESP) 58:56
3. Richard Murray (RSA) 59:03
4. Ryan Fisher (AUS) 59:10
5. Henri Schoeman (RSA) 59:07
6. Javier Gomez (ESP) 59:08
7. Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) 59:15
8. Igor Polyanskiy (RUS) 59:29
9. Richard Varga (SVK) 59:28
10. Ryan Bailie (AUS) 60:15
11. Matt Hauser (AUS )
12. Andrea Salvisberg (SUI)
13. Alessandro Fabian (ITA)
14. Crisanto Grajales (MEX)
15. Jorik van Egdom (NED)
16. Cameron Dye (USA)
17. Josh Amberger (AUS)
18. Dmitry Polyanskiy (RUS)
19. Brent McMahon (CAN)
20. Terenzo Bozzone (NZL)
21. Sigurdur Ragnarsson (ISL)
22. Ben Shaw (IRL)
23. Daniel Hoy (NZL)
24. Alistair Brownlee (GBR) DNS illness
1. Richard Murray (RSA) 56 points $100,000
2. Mario Mola (ESP) 49 points $50,000
3. Jake Birtwhistle (AUS) 48 points $30,000
4. Javier Gomez (ESP) 40 points $10,000