Javier Gomez of Spain won the opening round of the 2013 ITU World Cup series with a dominating run in the men’s elite race at Mooloolaba, Australia.
The win comes shortly after Gomez’s victory at the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon earlier this month. Gomez, who finished 2nd at the London Olympics, won the ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final in New Zealand last year and followed that up with a win at the XTERRA World Championship in Maui.
In Mooloolaba, Gomez combined a 5th-best 19:04 swim, 17th-best 1:01:37 bike split and a race-fastest 32:36 10k run to finish in 1:54:32 with a 21 seconds margin of victory over runner-up Matt Chrabot of the USA and 23 seconds ahead of 3rd-place finisher Peter Kerr of Australia.
The win was Gomez’s 13th career ITU World Cup victory and his 8th straight podium finish.
"This is a great way to start the year and a great way to win another world cup in Mooloolaba,” Gomez told ITU media. “I won here in 2008 -- it is a special race, challenging course and tough conditions out here today. I managed to go well and even though I made some mistakes in the water, I had a pretty good race and I am happy," he said.
The win was not wire to wire as Richard Varga of Slovakia and Benjamin Shaw of Ireland posted sub-18:30 swims that put half a minute on the chasers, who were led by Gomez on the second 750 meter lap.
On the 8-lap bike, Stuart Hayes of Great Britain surged and put 13 seconds on the field halfway through the bike leg. When the field caught him, Hayes put on an even more impressive surge and led the field by 45 seconds going into T2.
After the bike, pre-race favorites Gomez and Laurent Vidal of France were mid pack and had their work cut out for them. Midway through the 4-lap run, Gomez and Vidal caught Hayes and led the field. Vidal, worn down by a heavy training block prior to this race, faded and left Gomez to the lead.
Behind Gomez, Chrabot and Kerr clawed their way toward the front, eventually dropped Ireland’s Bryan Keane and continued to the finish in a duel for second place. At the finish, Chrabot prevailed.
Chrabot advanced from 8th place after the bike split to 2nd overall with a 3rd-best 33:02 run.
Chrabot was upbeat about his return to form after a tough 2012 that was hampered by illness. "I haven't been on the podium since 2011,” he told ITU media. “I got real sick last year with some thyroid issues and I didn't make the Olympic team. But I started training under Darren Smith down in Canberra, so Australia has been my home for the past three months and I just totally blew away my expectations."
Kerr advanced after T2 with similar alacrity to 3rd overall with the 2nd-best 33:01 run. “That was just epic,” he told ITU media. “I have run in Hamburg and the atmosphere there is fantastic, but the Australian crowd, when it is all for you, Hamburg doesn't compare. When everyone is yelling your name you don't want to let them down. Gomez is class, to run with him for a kilometer and a half beginning the run was fantastic. Maybe he knows who I am now for future races. I couldn't be happier with today."
Kerr’s fine performance continues his hot streak which began with a breakthrough win at 2012 Noosa and 2013 victories at the Sprint Oceania Championship at Devenport, Australia and the Oceania Championship at Wellington, New Zealand.
Mooloolaba ITU World Cup
March 16, 2013
S 1.5k . B 40k / R 10k
1. Javier Gomez (ESP) 1:54:32
2. Matt Chrabot (USA) 1:54:53
3. Peter Kerr (AUS) 1:54:55
4. Bryan Keane (IRL) 1:55:02
5. Ryan Bailie (AUS) 1:55:20
6. Clark Ellice (NZL) 1:55:23
7. Tony Moulai (FRA) 1:55:48
8. Stuart Hayes (GBR) 1:56:19
9. Nick Kastelein (AUS) 1:56:30
10. Simon De Cuyper (BEL) 1:56:38