The 2022 professional triathlon racing season got under way on Sunday in Chile at IRONMAN 70.3 Pucon.
There wasn’t too much surprise to see that Spain’s Javier Gomez topped the first podium of the year – something he is likely to repeat several times between now and Christmas.
Brazil’s Luisa Baptista finally ended the victory streak of Barbara Riveros at this event in the women’s Pro race, which dated back to 2015.
Gomez runs to victory
With his incredible draft-legal racing career now behind him after a disappointing showing in Tokyo, the Spanish legend will now be ‘all in’ on middle and long distance racing for the remainder of his career. Given that he has already won the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships twice and qualified for the full distance world’s in St. George having won IRONMAN Malaysia in 2019, don’t write off Gomez at the top level just yet.
In what was a mostly South American field in Chile, Gomez was the clear favourite to kick-off his partnership with Orbea with victory aboard his new Ordu bike. That script wasn’t going to be threatened, though in a format we have seen many times before, it would be on the run that the race-winning move was made.
The opening swim saw a trio of athletes reach T1 with a lead of almost 45 seconds – Gomez, alongside home athletes Vincent Trewhela and Gaspar Riveros. Argentina’s Lucino Taccone and Reinaldo Colluci were part of the chase group.
Riveros was quickly dropped from the leading three, but 90km of cycling later the leading group was now five, as Gomez and Trewhela were joined by Colluci, Taccone and another home athlete, Martin Ulloa.
Nobody would bet on anything other than a Gomez win from that position, and sure enough he was clear within the first mile and never threatened, crossing the line with a 1:10:04 run time and a winning margin of almost two minutes over Taccone. with Brazil’s Collucci completing the podium.
Posting on Instagram afterwards, Gomez said: “First race of the year. Happy to take the win.
“They say this is the most beautiful race in the world, which might be true. What they don’t tell you about is that brutal run course! I loved it though. Incredible support from the Chilean crowd out there, thanks everyone.”
Big win for Baptista
32nd at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Brazil’s Luisa Baptista prevented a home win in the women’s race where she finished more than eight minutes clear of Barbara Riveros. That ended the Chilean’s run of success at this race, Riveros having previously won in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
In what was a small female Pro field, five athletes exited the opening swim pretty much together, with Baptista and Riveros joined by Romina Palacio (ARG) plus Macarena and Catalina Ezquerra (CHI).
90km later and Baptista was in a different post code, more than seven and a half minutes clear of the five time winner, with nobody else within realistic contention.
There would be no dramatics on the run either, as Baptista (1:19:31) and Riveros (1:20:03) ran similar times, to leave the Brazilian athlete a full eight minutes clear to kick off her season with a victory.
Sad news in the swim
There was horrible news from the age group race in Pucon, where the organisers confirmed the death of a 38 year-old athlete, following a heart attack during the swim section of the race
IRONMAN 70.3 Pucon, Chile – Sunday 9th January 2022
1.9km / 90km / 21.1km
- 1. Javier Gomez (ESP) – 3:50:54
- 2. Lucino Taccone (ARG) – 3:52:51
- 3. Reinaldo Colluci (BRA) – 3:58:12
- 4. Vincent Trewhela (CHI) – 4:02:05
- 5. Gaspar Riveros (CHI) – 4:11:19
- 1. Luisa Baptista (BRA) – 4:17:12
- 2. Barbara Riveros (CHI) – 4:25:16
- 3. Romina Palacio (ARG) – 4:42:54
- 4. Macarena Ezquerra (CHI) – 4:45:08
- 5. Pamela Tastets (CHI) – 4:46:17