After being cancelled due to the tragic Japanese earthquake and tsunami earlier in the year, the rearranged Yokohama leg of the ITU’s Dextro Energy World Championship Series (WCS) took place earlier today in sweltering conditions.
Four months after the event was originally scheduled, the points earned here will count towards the 2012 WCS standings – after the 2011 world champions were decided at last week’s Grand Final in Beijing. The men’s race got underway in the simmering 28 degree water of Yokohama harbour, with Dmitry Polyansky of Russia leading three of his countrymen on the 1500m swim into T1. Joao Silva of Portugal was close behind the leading group, losing no time as the peloton swelled to 50 of the 65-strong field.
Simon Whitfield and Chris McCormack put the power down on the 40km bike, but were unable to break away from the main group, instead leading it into T2. Yuichi Hosoda of Japan burst out first onto the 10km run to home-crowd applause, determined to secure a place in the Japanese Olympic squad with a top-eight finish.
Despite the furnace-like conditions, Silva set an astonishing pace, reeling in 10 places before overtaking Hosoda and building a 10-second lead by the end of the first lap.
His pace unabated, Silva extended his advantage to 24 seconds by the time he hit the finish, putting in a blinding run time of 30:14 and crossing the line in 1:49:21 to take the first ever ITU gold for Portugal in a men’s WCS race.
Behind him, Russian team-mates Bryukhankov and Polyansky fought for second. The latter faded slightly in the heat towards the end, while Bryukhankov powered home with a sub 30:30 run to finish in 1:49:35, taking his third world championship series silver of the year.
In the women’s race, it was a familiar sight as GB’s Lucy Hall led out of the water on the swim, with fellow Brit, and 2011 ITU world champion, Helen Jenkins just behind.
Despite working hard together on the bike, their efforts weren’t enough to escape the chasing pack, which caught to make a 25-woman group including Andrea Hewitt (NZL) and Emma Moffatt (AUS). The leaders were caught by a chasing pack of 22, growing the peloton and neutralising any breakaway attempts.
Nicola Spirig of Switzerland led onto the run, but Hewitt, seemingly unaffected by the 30-plus degree heat, set an incredible pace, finding the front and powering on inexorably to the end of the course, slowing only to high-five the Japanese crowds on the final straight. Hewitt’s run was the fastest split of the day in 34:30 with a finishing time of 1:59:17, her second win in as many weeks after the Beijing Grand Final last weekend.
Behind, Jenkins lost pace with Moffatt, who crossed the line in second in 1:59:30, while Kate McIlroy of New Zealand took to the podium for the first time in her career, taking bronze in 1:59:30.
1. Joao Silva (POR) 01:49:21
2. Alexander Brukhankov (RUS) 01:49:35
3. Dmitry Polyansky (RUS) 01:50:04
1. Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 01:59:17
2. Emma Moffatt (AUS) 01:59:30
3. Kate McIlroy (NZL) 01:59:44