Vicky Holland, Ryan Sissons secure Mooloolaba ITU World Cup victories

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A British one-two as Holland and Taylor-Brown dominate in Australia

New Zealand take Gold and Silver for the men, as Dijkstra starts 2020 in good form

It is looking increasing likely that racing options for athletes, Elite or otherwise, are going to very limited – certainly in the near term. Given that background, today’s Mooloolaba ITU Triathlon World Cup was a very welcome (and early morning) watch, as well as a racing opportunity for those on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

Elite Women

For Vicky Holland and Georgia Taylor-Brown, things couldn’t have gone much better. But for a stomach bug for Jessica Learmonth, who was also due to race, could it have been an all British podium sweep? We’ll never know the answer to that one.

Emma Jeffcoat (AUS) and Kirsten Kasper (USA) were first to emerge from the 750m (non-wetsuit) sea swim, but a long line of athletes closely followed, including all four of the British entrants inside the top ten, with Olivia Mathias and Sian Rainsley joining their senior colleagues with a strong start.

Two groups formed on the bike, with Taylor-Brown very evident pushing the pace towards the front of the leading pack, while behind, Andrea Hewitt (NZL) and Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) were the high profile names seeking to bridge the gap, which never really grew to much above 15 seconds. That they did, leaving a large group of athletes descending on the T2 dismount line in close order.

Jeffcoat had a great transition and in the early stages held a narrow lead of five seconds, but Holland and Taylor-Brown soon emerged as the strongest of the chasers. Once they had taken the lead, they never looked threatened and it was going to be a head-to-head for the top spot on the podium.

Holland but in an effort just before the end of the final climb of three, and gaining a second or two, extended that advantage on the downhill and pulled clear, to enable her to enjoy the finish straight, via the best run split of the day (16:55).  Taylor-Brown (17:11) was a clear second, leaving Gentle to get the better of Hewitt in a sprint for the final podium position. Despite her fine run, post-race, Holland commented that the bulk of her training to date has been around her swimming and cycling, so she was pleasantly by her performance.

Elite Men

As he has done many times before, Richard Varga (SVK) set the pace for a long line of athletes through the water, where barely 30 seconds separated the entire field with no breaks of any note.

The four British athletes – Dijkstra, Yee, Bishop and Dickinson – were all safely in the front pack and highly visible too, often at the front and keeping the pace high. With the fest running legs of Alex Yee (and Ben Dijkstra), things were looking good.

Yee’s opportunity for success was derailed with a mechanical (puncture, I believe), which put him several minutes out of contention at T2 (though, probably no consolation, he did continue and produce the best run split, despite finishing up in 37th).

As the early kilometres of the run shaped up, a group of eight looked set to decide the race, which included three New Zealand athletes (Ryan Sissons, Hayden Wilde, Sam Ward), two Aussies (Luke Willian, Matthew Hauser), Kevin McDowell (USA), Kenji Nener (JPN) and Ben Dijkstra.

Just as Holland did for the women, the decisive move came on the third and final ascent of the three-lap run course. Hayden Wilde – who recently won the New Zealand 5,000m Championships – but in a big surge, and only Sissons could go with him. They pulled clear, reached the blue carpet shoulder-to-shoulder and it was Sissons who (just) got the better of the sprint. Luke Willian denied Ben Dijkstra of the final podium slot.

Mooloolaba ITU Triathlon World Cup – Saturday 14th March 2020
750m / 20km / 5km

ELITE WOMEN

1st – Vicky Holland (GBR) – 57:46
2nd – Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) – 58:01
3rd – Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) – 58:13
4th – Andrea Hewitt (NZL) – 58:14
5th – Elizabeth Bravo (ECU) – 58:18

18th – Sian Rainsley (GBR) – 59:23
19th – Olivia Mathias (GBR) – 59:40

ELITE MEN

1st – Ryan Sissons (NZL) – 51:50
2nd – Hayden Wilde (NZL) – 51:50
3rd – Luke Willian (AUS) – 51:54
4th – Ben Dijkstra (GBR) – 51:57
5th – Sam Ward (NZL) – 52:01

14th – Thomas Bishop (GBR) – 52:46
37th – Alex Yee (GBR) – 55:13
38th – Samuel Dickinson (GBR) – 55:20