Hamburg, Germany (16 July 2011) - Australian Brad Kahlefeldt got his 2011 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship season back on track in the best possible style, claiming his first ever series win in a thrilling sprint finish in Hamburg.
Kahlefeldt just managed to hold off Great Britain's William Clarke and France's David Hauss, powering away from both in the final 50 metres in one of the most interesting series races so far this season.
|Photo: Delly Carr / ITU
Without series leader Alistair Brownlee (GBR) in the field, there was plenty of cat and mouse games being played throughout the bike as several pairs tried to breakaway, but in the end a huge group of about 50 athletes hit T2 together, setting up a showdown on the 10km run. Just before halfway, a breakaway group of eight turned into six as Kahlefeldt, Clarke, Hauss, Javier Gomez (ESP), Joao Silva (POR) and Sebastian Rank (GER) started to build an unbeatable lead. Then with three kilometres to go, reigning Hamburg champion, Gomez tried to turn on his signature burn. But it wasn't effective this time as Kahlefeldt and Clarke stuck right to his heels. Then with one kilometre to go, Kahlefeldt, Hauss and Clarke went for it. The excitement continued to the final few steps, as until the last 50 metres it looked like Clarke had the win, before Kahlefeldt found that other gear he's employed so successfully in the past to burst through the tape. It was a blistering run, with the first four all breaking the 30-minute barrier and the top 13 finishing within a minute of Kahlefeldt.
It marked a big step in the Australian's season, after initially getting off to a great start to the 2011 season with a World Cup win in Mooloolaba, last year's overall bronze medallist didn't finish in Sydney and finished 51st in Madrid. But after a fifth place in Kitzbühel, and a period of sustained success in Hamburg, he said he wasn't settling for second this time.
"I've been to Hamburg many times, I think its my ninth time here - it's showing my age - but I got my first podium here in 2003 with a sprint finish between Andrew Johns and Bevan Docherty, so that was my first podium ever in a World Cup," Kahlefeldt said.
"Then I think what was it after that, I think 2004 it was a top five finish and 2005 I think I was up there again, then 2006 another podium, 2007 another podium, 2009 another podium. So I've been very very close to winning many times but I just couldn't get the win, so I was thinking about that today and then on the final lap I knew I just finally had to try and get this win in. Because it's my favourite race on the circuit and I'm just very, very happy."
Kahlefeldt became just the seventh man to win a round of the Dextro Energy Triathlon Series since it was introduced as the new ITU World Championship series in 2009. It was also the first series podium, male or female, for an Australian triathlete in 2011.
It was also a huge breakthrough day for Clarke - with his first Dextro Energy Triathlon Series podium. His previous best was the fourth place he claimed in Kitzbühel just last month.
"I rounded that corner and I saw the finish line and I was like, just give 100 per cent now and I think I sacrificed myself a little bit early," Clarke said. "But I'm still absolutely delighted to get second, to be honest it's a bit more than I thought, I'm just over the moon I've been dreaming about this for a long time."
Hauss said his strategy had paid off, particulary after the wetsuit swim - which was confirmed after the water temperature was measured at 19 degrees - had initially put him back.
"I made a really bad swim with the wetsuit, but I keep going and I tried to push so that I was in control during the race and then after the bike I was in pretty confident with my run," he said. "So I wait for a chance in the race and then in the last bit I tried to break away and, I'm really really happy as I haven't got good results in my last races."
The result also changes the top of the Dextro Energy Triathlon Series leaderboard at the halfway mark. Gomez's eventual sixth place was enough for him to take the lead from Alistair Brownlee - who didn't race in Hamburg - but the podium finishes really paid off for Clarke and Hauss, who moved up to second and third respectively. Gomez now has 2026 points, just ahead of Clarke at 1935 and Hauss at 1905. Sven Riederer (SUI) is in fourth overall and Alexander Brukhankov (RUS) in fifth. Kahlefeldt moved up seven places, to ninth, thanks to his win.
In other notable results, Chris McCormack (AUS) finished 26th in his second ITU comeback race. McCormack led the second chase pack as it aimed to bridge a 24 second intitial gap, and eventually did, and then crossed the line 26th place. It proved to be another unlucky day for reigning Olympic champion Jan Frodeno, who hasn't yet been able to win the race in his home town. Frodeno was at the front from the swim, before a problem with his bike in the final lap and eventually finished 43rd.
Hamburg marks the halfway point of the 2011 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series, with London, Lausanne and the Beijing Grand Final to come.
Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Hamburg - July 16, 2011
Final Results - Elite Men - Official - 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run
Gold - Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS) - 1:44:08
Silver - William Clarke (GBR) - 1:44:09
Bronze - David Hauss (FRA) - 1:44:09
4th - Sebastian Rank (GER) - 1:44:12
5th - Joao Silva (POR) - 1:44:16
6th - Javier Gomez (ESP) - 1:44:19
7th - Tim Don (GBR) - 1:44:33
8th - Reto Hug (SUI) - 1:44:35
9th - Jonathan Zipf (GER) - 1:44:44
10th - Sven Riederer (SUI) - 1:44:56