Matthew Hauser and Non Stanford won first World Cup victories at Chengdu; the funny thing about it is Stanford already won the far more prestigious 2013 WTS World Championship.
In a unique World Cup format, Chengdu conducted their event in sprints spread over two days. On Saturday, the elite men and women conducted three semifinal heats apiece which eliminated the bottom one third of the field, relegated the middle third to a consolation B final, and sifted the top third to the A final which awarded the World Cup series points and podium medals.
When the A finals came down on Sunday, the distances were half of the usual sprint - 400 meter swim, 10 kilometer cycling leg and 2.5 kilometer run - and the action and finishes were slam-bang fast and furious.
In the women’s final, Britain’s Non Stanford, the 2013 WTS World Champion, had not competed at the less-prestigious World Cup races since 2011 and had never won at the lower level.
After surviving her Saturday semifinal heat which advanced the top 14 finishers to Sunday’s A final, Stanford finished 7th in the 400 meter swim, 8 seconds behind swim leader and fellow Brit Jessica Learmonth. In a tightly packed 10 kilometer bike leg, all 30 women arrived in T2 within 200 meters.
China’s Chunyan Xiong started the run in the lead, but was soon passed by Stanford. Stanford charged ahead and never looked back on her way to the win with a tied-for-women's-best 7:59 run split.
“It’s always great to start the season with a win, but I was not confident until the end, because everything was so quick,” Stanford told ITU media. “The key thing today was to have good transitions, and I’m not known for my good transitions, so I just focused on staying calm and getting out fast. I knew there were a few strong runners on the field today and that it could be a sprint finish, but I didn’t worry too much, and that helped a lot.”
Stanford finished in 29:36 with a 4 seconds margin of victory over Laura Lindemann of Germany and 6 seconds over 3rd place finisher Kirsten Kasper of the United States.
One second later, Clair Michel of Belgium took 4th, 5 seconds further back in 5th place was Chelsea Burns of the U.S, and 5 seconds after that was 6th place Sophie Coldwell of Great Britain.
Getting off to a great start in his World Cup debut, Matthew Hauser of Australia won the pro men’s division of the Chengdu ITU Triathlon World Cup Final by a 2 seconds margin over runner-up Rostislav Pevtsov of Azerbaijan and 4 seconds over 3rd place Luke Willian of Australia.
Hauser’s path to victory started with a 6th place finish in his Saturday semifinal heat on a standard 750 meter swim, 20 kilometer bike leg and 5 kilometer run - which qualified him for Sunday’s final. As configured, the top 9 men in each of the three semifinal heats plus 3 men with the next fastest times qualified for the 30-man final.
In the Sunday A final, Alois Knabl of Austria led the 400-meter swim in 4:41 with WTS swim master Richard Varga of Slovakia one second behind and Hauser right on their heels in 4:43.
The 10 kilometer bike leg did nothing to separate the men as 29 of the 30 starters arrived in a mass pack as Hungary’s Gabor Faldum and Luxembourg’s Bob Haller led the field out on the run. On his way to a race-best 7:01 split for the single 2.5-kilkometer lap, Hauser quickly commandeered the lead and held it to the finish in a time of 26:46.
“I knew I conserved a lot of energy yesterday in the heats and just did what I could to get to the final," Hauser told ITU media. "I knew it was always going to be a running race today, so I tried to conserve on the swim and bike and save it for the run and I managed to execute the processes right.”
Rostislav Pevtsov of Azerbaijan ran a second-fastest 7:02 split to secure the runner up slot, 2 seconds behind Hauser. Luke Willian of Australia ran a 3rd-best 7:04 to take the final spot on the podium, 2 seconds behind Pevtsov.
Chengdu World Cup Final
May 7, 2017
S 400m / B 10k / R 2.5k
1. Non Stanford (GBR) 29:36
2. Lauran Lindemann (GER) 29:40
3. Kirsten Kasper (USA) 29:42
4. Claire Michel (BEL) 29:43
5. Chelsea Burns (USA) 29:48
6. Sophie Coldwell (GBR) 29:53
7. Emma Jeffcoat (AUS) 29:56
8. Yuka Sato (JPN) 29:57
9. Chunyan Xiong (CHN) 29:59
T10. Elena Danilova (RUS) 30:00
T10. Jessica Learmonth (GBR) 30:00
12. Lucy Hall (GBR) 30:03
1. Matthew Hauser (AUS) 26:46
2. Rostislav Pevtsov (AZE) 26:48
3. Luke Willian (AUS) 26:50
4. Rodrigo Gonzalez (MEX) 26:52
5. Andreas Schilling (DEN) 26:56
6. Tyler Mislawchuk (CAN) 26:57
7. Igor Polyanskiy (RUS) 27:00
8. Gábor Faldum (HUN) 27:00
9. Lukas Hollaus (AUT) 27:01
10. Lasse Lührs (GER) 27:02