With the ITU henceforth suspending all competitions and activities until April 30 due to the worldwide spread of the Coronavirus, the Mooloolaba World Cup served as the last race for a while. And so the fierce Ryan Sissons-Hayden Wilde duel to the finish and Vicky Holland’s strong performance at the Mooloolaba sprint distance will have to serve as a reminder of the passion the sport can bring once the pandemic runs its course.
Holland, the 2018 World Triathlon Series world champion, shot to the front with a by-far women’s-best 16:55 closing 5k to hit the line in 57:46 with a 15 seconds margin of victory over fellow Brit Georgia Taylor-Brown, who placed second in the 2019 WTS series, and 27 seconds over 3rd place Australia Ashleigh Gentle, the defending Mooloolaba World Cup champ.
Emma Jeffcoat of Australia and Kirsten Kasper of the U.S. led the swim with 8:44 splits which gave them an 8 seconds lead on a right pack including Holland, Taylor-Brown, and Ainslie Thorpe of New Zealand
As a light rain made the 5-lap 20 kilometer bike course treacherous and forced caution on a 30-women pack. At the finish of the leg, Jeffcoat, Kasper and Gillian Backhouse of Australia led into T2 with Taylor-Brown, Holland, Natalie Van Coevorden and Gentle hot on th4oir heels.
After the first of 3 laps of the 5 kilometer run, Holland and Taylor-Brown took the lead with Jeffcoat in third. On the final lap, Holland pulled away to the victory, while Taylor-Brown solidified her hold on second, while Gentle unleashed her vaunted run speed and held off Kiwi Olympian Andrea Hewitt and Ecuadoran Elizabeth Bravo to take third.
“On paper this was a World Cup race and not a World Series race but this race means a lot more than that because of the current climate and because we don’t know when the next race will go ahead,” Holland told ITU media. “So today was really important because it might be my only race for quite a while. I haven’t really started my full run training yet and I am probably about 60-70 percent on volume so I am over the moon with that result. I didn’t think I would run that well but I got the bit between the teeth and I thought I would have a dig and I came out on top."
“Mooloolaba is always a tough start to the year and it is a pretty hard course but I really enjoy it,” Gentle told ITU media. “There are a lot of people who can hang onto bike groups over that course so I tried to position myself well. There were a few girls pulling good turns on different sections but I really just tried to stay up the front but unfortunately at the end of the bike a lot of riders came around me at the top of the hill and it meant that I was in T2 towards the back of the group and couldn’t respond. For first race of the season I am pretty happy that I could come from behind."
In a ferocious battle to the finish, Sissons and fellow New Zealander Hayden Wilde were clocked in equal 51:50 times while Sissons nipped his rival by a few inches. Sissons began the run in a lead pack with a 6 seconds margin over Wilde, who worked hard to eliminate his deficit. By the end, the rest of the rivals fell back and Wilde closed the gap with a race-best 14:59 run while Sissons held on for the win with a 15:05 run split.
“I did everything I needed to do and I put myself in the best position on the swim, right in contact, on the bike I was at the front the whole time and I went off on the run as hard as I could and let everyone else chase and it paid off,” Sissons told ITU media. Sissons said this was a nice recovery from a disappointing 2019 season. “The last two years have been pretty average,” said Sissons. “I have had some good races and I have had some absolutely terrible ones. The last two races of last year I didn’t even finish. I came here determined to win this race.”
Wilde was satisfied with his silver medal. “Running into the finish I had to go early because I knew that if I sprinted the calf wasn’t going to enjoy it. Ryan pipped me at the end but I am stoked to be here,” said Wilde.
March 14, 2020
S 750m / B 20k / R 5k
1. Vicky Holland (GBR) 57:46 S 8:52 T1 1:00 B 30:39 T2 00:22 R 16:55
2. Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) 58:01 S 8:53 T1 1:01 B 30:36 T2 00:22 R 17:11
3. Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) 58:13 S 9:13 T1 00:58 B 30:24 T2 00:19 R 17:20
4. Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 58:14 S 9:14 T1 1:03 B 30:16 T2 00:23 R 17:20
5. Elizabeth Bravo (ECU) 58:18 S 9:00 T1 00:58 B 30:39 T2 00:20 R 17:22
6. Emma Jeffcoat (AUS) 58:31 S 8:44 T1 00:59 B 30:45 T2 00:19 R 17:46
7. Yuliya Yelistratova (UKR) 58:41 S 9:05 T1 1:04 B 30:29 T2 00:22 R 17:43
8. Barbara Riveros (CHL) 58:41 S 9:25 T1 00:57 B 30:11 T2 00:25 R 17:45
9. Ainsley Thorpe (NZL) 58:42 S 8:55 T2 1:00 B 30:39 T2 00:19 R17:52
10. Kirsten Kasper (USA) 58:50 S 8:44 T1 1:02 B 30:42 T2 00:20 R 18:03
DNF Chelsea Burns (USA) Renee Tomlin (USA)
1. Ryan Sissons (AUS) 51:50 S 7:57 T1 00:55 B 27:37 T2 00:18 R 15:05
2. Hayden Wilde (NZL) 51:50 S7:58 T1 00:53 B 27:43 T2 00:20 R 14:59
3. Luke Willian (AUS) 51:54 S 7:53 T1 00:52 B 27:47 T2 00:16 R 15:07
4. Ben Dijkstra (GBR) 51:57 S 7:54 T1 00:56 B 27:41 T2 00:19 R 15:09
5. Sam Ward (NZL) 52:01 S 7:46 T1 00:57 B 27:48 T2 00:18 R 15:14
6. Kevin McDowell (USA) 52:03 S 7:44 T1 00:51 B 27:53 T2 00:19 R 15:17
7. Kenji Nener (JPN) 52:11 S 7:47 T1 00:53 B 27:49 T2 00:16 R 15:28
8. Matthew Hauser (AUS) 52:16 S 7:41 T1 00:56 B 27:51 T2 00:16 R15:34
9. Rostislav Pevtsov (AZE) 52:32 S 7:59 T1 00:54 B 27:44 T2 00:21 R 15:37
10. Gianluca Pozzatti (ITA) 52:37 S 7:53 T1 00:52 B 27:49 T2 00:18 R 15:46
28. Seth Rider (USA) 53:39 S 7:43 T1 00:59 B 27:46 T2 00:20 R 16:54