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Avenging her runner-up finish at this race last year, Cook led the swim, bike and run legs with only a brief interlude chasing on the first lap of the run.
“I am really happy with today’s race,” Cook told ITU media. “It felt great to be able to back up my win in Tongyeong last week with another win. I feel like I completed some things better than I did last week, so I am really happy about that and I am really happy about the process that I put forth in order to achieve my result today.”
Spivey took the silver medal for her second World Cup podium of the season while Jackson took the bronze, her third podium of the 15-race World Cup season that began in February.
“I am so happy to finish the season strong,” Spivey told ITU media. “I worked really hard today and it paid off.”
The women split into two groups on the swim with Cook (18:59 split), Japan’s Yuko Takahashi (19:00) and Spivey (19:02) leading a six-woman pack including Emma Jackson 3 to 12 seconds arrears.
Starting the bike leg, Cook led a 9-woman pack including Spivey, Jackson, Takahashi, Edda Hannesdottir of Iceland, Valerie Barthelmy of Belgium, Verena Steinhauser of Italy, Yuka Sato of Japan, and Angelica Olmo of Italy. After losing 40 seconds on the swim, Chelsea Burns of the U.S. and Joanna Brown of Canada lost the front pack and were caught without assistance between the leaders and a large chase pack.
By the end of the 40 kilometer bike leg, the leaders established a 48-seconds margin on a large group of chasers. On the first lap of the run, Cook surged into the lead and ran untouched to victory while Spivey, Jackson, Takahashi, and Barthelmy battled for the podium.
Spivey was next to break away as she ran 35:48 to take the silver, 3 seconds ahead of Jackson, who ran 35:51 to take the bronze.
Japan’s Ai Ueda made up for a 20:34 swim with a race-best 34:23 run, which brought her to the finish in 10th place. Chelsea Sodaro of the U.S. ran a second best 34:34 run to take 11th.
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Van Riel finished the World Cup season with a full house of medals in the final races. He scored silver at Sarasota, a bronze at Tongyeong and topped it off with his first gold at Miyazaki.
“I can’t be happier with how the season ended for me,” Van Riel told ITU media. “I was hoping for one podium in one of the three races, but now I have every medal now so I am very happy.”
Van Riel closed with a 9th-fastest 31:24 run that managed to out sprint Hernandez by 3 seconds despite the Spaniard posting a run that was 2 seconds quicker.
“I am happy with the race,” Hernandez told ITU media. “I couldn’t expect anything better. I was in front and I lost in the final sprint. I felt a little tired because I raced a half distance [recently]. So I probably needed a little bit faster movement at the end.”
In choppy waters that precluded a breakaway on the swim, Makuto Odakura of Japan and Aurelien Raphael of France and led the swim in 17:03 and 17:04, but two dozen competitors were hot on theit heels and entered T1 together. After two laps of the bike leg, two large packs merged making a ceremonial group of 30-plus drafting one another to T2.
On the third lap, a pack of five including Van Riel, Hernandez, Schilling, Matthew Sharpe of Canada, and Gregory Barnaby of Italy managed a break over a huge group of chasers led by Alessandro Fabian of Italy, Uxio Abuin Ares of Spain, Eric Lagerstrom of the U.S., and Rodrigo Gonzalez of Mexico.
The five leaders stayed out front and entered T2 with a minute lead on the chasers.
Bursting out of the transition, Van Riel and Hernandez broke into a lead, while Schilling and Sharpe were dueling for the final spot on the podium. Halfway through the run, Sharpe fell back and Schilling cruised to the bronze.
After a fierce duel that appeared headed for a photo finish, Van Riel found a last measure of speed to take the victory by three seconds.