Richard Murray and Katie Zaferes crowned themselves King and Queen of New Plymouth, taking out the New Plymouth International ITU Triathlon World Cup.

Despite coming into the race with a slight concern over an ankle injury, Murray emerged at the front of the pack early on the run, and from that point was never headed to win his third straight title.

Zaferes has also won back to back - the last time the American was here and victorious was 2014 and she won again today, showing too much strength to kick one second clear of a large group of runners over the final few hundred metres.

Murray held off impressive young American Matt McElroy and local Ryan Sissons, who had the crowd roaring their delight as he sprinted to the line and the bronze medal after finishing an agonising fourth last year.


Murray was delighted with the win, albeit a little surprised given the concern he had over his ankle coming in to the race.

"I think at the start of the day if you said that I would 'threepeat', I would say 'not possible'. I was the last one running into the swim, I had to go real slow and was a bit cautious but then had a good swim, out on the outside.

"I then ran in my trainers to look after my ankle, as they are a heavier shoe but I had never pulled them on before and I spent about 10 or 12 seconds in transition watching everyone run away, normally I am quick but this time I was a bit slow today."

Murray says conditions made it interesting.

"It was maybe the wettest I have seen here, I pulled my glasses on but couldn't see with the spray. Everyone in the lead group rode well, Henri and I tried to get away just before the end of the bike but I thought, I can't let this one go."

Zaferes was in a tight tussle with a large group once on the run, eventually going clear of Joanna Brown (Canada) who won her first World Cup medal and Claire Michel (Belgium).

"I was nervous, couldn't catch a breath before the race but I am normally like that so just told myself to calm down. I love wetsuit swims but also enjoy the cold, so I took some confidence from the decision not to have wetsuits knowing that it might be a little chilly and conditions might not be perfect - I tend to do a little better in those conditions."

There were a few minor crashes in the slippery conditions, but Zaferes was safe near the front of the field throughout.

"Everyone was pushing from the beginning and it was a constant strong ride all the way through, that was great practice for me as I don't tend to do well with tactics or technically on course and today I wanted to nail that and be in the right place. Every time someone went down at the back, you are thankful you are in that right place, I was just very happy at how I executed it today."

Leading Kiwi hope Andrea Hewitt didn't fire on the day, struggling with the cold during the swim and was not able to close the gap to the lead group on the bike, despite riding solo early on.

"Next week (Gold Coast World Series) didn't go through my head at all, I pushed as hard as I could but just didn't have the legs to do so, my muscles felt frozen. It was great for the other Kiwis to be up in the lead bunch, but today just wasn't my day."

Of the other medalists, there is no doubt that Sissons was the most popular, the Kiwi was devastated last year to miss the podium by the barest of margins and was not going to let that happen again.

"I had to work for it, I didn't have a great swim, but felt really good on the bike and worked as hard as I could and managed to pull the gap in, there weren't many working but I managed to get a few guys to pull some turns.

"On the run I felt comfortable the whole way, there were a few surges and with 500m to go I thought, this is it. I was fourth last year in a sprint and really didn't want to get fourth again. I am really stoked to come away with third and a good start to the season, I am looking forward to building on it from here on."

Of the other New Zealand men racing today, there were strong performances from 20-year-old Tayler Reid (Gisborne) who ran strongly to a superb 7th place, Dan Hoy (Auckland) who overcame a sluggish start to the run to finish strongly in 12th, Trent Thorpe (Auckland) in 15th and Liam Ward (Auckland) who finished 19th, all gaining vital experience racing to the top level.

In the women's race the best of the Kiwis was Sophie Corbidge (Auckland) who finished in 11th place while young Nicole van der Kaay (Taupo) continues to find her feet at the top level with a 13th, Elise Salt (Auckland) was 17th, and Hewitt came home in 20th while Deb Lynch struggled after a poor swim and finished 29th.

Elite Women
1 Katie Zaferes, USA, 59:28
2 Joanna Brown, CAN, 59:29
3 Claire Michel, BEL, 59:30

Plus NZers
11 Sophie Corbidge, NZL, 1:00:29
13 Nicole van der Kaay, NZL, 1:00:35
17 Elise Salt, NZL, 1:01:07
20 Andrea Hewitt, NZL, 1:02:03
29 Deb Lynch, NZL, 1:05:24

Elite Men
1 Richard Murray, SAF, 54:37
2 Matt McElroy, USA, 54:43
3 Ryan Sissons, NZL, 54:46

Plus NZers
7 Tayler Reid, NZL, 55:14
12 Dan Hoy, NZL 55:31
15 Trent Thorpe, NZL, 55:45
19 Liam Ward, NZL, 56:32
25 Trent Dodds, NZL, 57:27
29 Hayden Wilde, NZL, 58:41
30 Kyle Smith, NZL, 59:28