Dana Johannsen

Dana Johannsen is a NZ Herald’s chief sports reporter

Triathlon: Gomez shows why he's No1

Kiwi Ryan Sissons books his ticket to Glasgow Commonwealth Games with sixth place.

Javier Gomez of Spain leads Jonathan Brownlee (UK). Photo / Sarah Ivey
Javier Gomez of Spain leads Jonathan Brownlee (UK). Photo / Sarah Ivey

The Auckland leg of the world triathlon circuit once again belongs to Spain's Javier Gomez after the world No 1 picked up his third straight win at the event after an epic battle with British rival Jonathan Brownlee.

The two heavyweights of the sport predictably dominated the men's event at the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland world triathlon, treating the crowd lining the city streets to a masterclass. Australia's Aaron Royle was third, beating compatriots Dan Wilson and Ryan Bailie in a sprint down the chute.

Photos: Elite Barfoot & Thompson World Triathlon.

The women's race was also dominated by the big names in the field, with world No 2 Jodie Stimpson of Great Britain taking top spot on the podium after following Kiwis Nicky Samuels and Kate McIlroy in a break-away on the bike leg.

Last year's winner, Anne Haug of Germany, was second, while another Brit, former world champion Helen Jenkins, was third.

With both the men's and women's fields stacked with world-class talent, the pace set matched the scorching conditions in Auckland.

But an interesting side battle for Commonwealth Games selection among the Kiwi athletes took some of the focus away from the podium spots.

Ryan Sissons was the only New Zealander to book his spot on the startline in Glasgow yesterday, finishing sixth in the men's race after being given a helping hand on the bike leg by Canterbury's Tom Davison. New Zealand's top-ranked triathlete Andrea Hewitt also finished sixth in the women's field, but she had already booked her place at the Games with an eighth place at last year's triathlon grand final in London.

Needing to finish inside the top eight to guarantee Commonwealth Games selection, Sissons produced his best performance in a world triathlon series event to book his ticket to Glasgow. But it took a phenomenal ride from Davison to set Sissons up for a decent tilt.

Third to last out of the water, Sissons was dragged through the field on the bike leg by Davison, who incredibly managed to catch the lead group of 12 on the fifth lap. "[Davison] was my right-hand man, I couldn't have done it without him. We rode hard and managed to get up to the front. We had two minutes on the second group off the bike and that was what sealed the deal for me," said Sissons.

"He put me in the perfect spot ..."

Having sacrificed his own race for the sake of his teammate, Davison finished back in 36th but pushed his case for Commonwealth Games selection having shown his value to the team.

In the women's race, Nicky Samuels and Kate McIlroy led a breakaway group on the bike leg alongside eventual winner Stimpson. But while Stimpson was able to kick on for the win, the Kiwi pair did not have a big enough buffer on the strong runners in the field. McIlroy, in her first event back after having a piece of bone removed from her heel, was 13th, with Samuels back in 16th.

McIlroy, who had only four weeks of running training under her belt since the surgery, was delighted to have been competitive for so long, while Samuels was left ruing her race tactics, which left her with little in her legs for the run.

McIlroy said the decision to attack early on the bike leg was a risk. The pair, with Stimpson, established a 43-second lead on the chase pack heading into the run, but were swallowed up by the pack mid-way through the second leg.

"We worked hard on the bike," said McIlroy.

"I knew my legs would be tired, I just don't have the running in my legs at the moment. I'm just happy I got through the 10km and managed to finish in a reasonably respectable position."

Samuels believed the risk did not pay off for her, and she should have backed herself to be able to match the stronger runners.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 29 Nov 2014 02:53:50 Processing Time: 562ms