Gomez back on top at WTS Montreal; Gentle grabs first WTS Win

by Olalla Cernuda/ITU Media

Javi Gomez returns to top of podium with a strong win in WTS Montreal

An impressive run gave Spaniard Javier Gomez Noya his 14th victory in the World Triathlon Series after claiming the title of the 2017 ITU World Triathlon Montreal. The Spaniard, five times world champion, showed that the Olympic distance is the perfect course for him as he sailed to the finish line to claim his second WTS win of the season. Accompanying Gomez on the podium was Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) and Richard Murray (RSA).

Gomez said of his win, “Yeah after so many sprint races it was good to have a proper race. It was hard from the beginning, hard on the bike, hard on the run. I recovered well from last week, because I felt a bit sick from Edmonton, but it was a good race today. I am really pleased.”

“This year was a bit weird, I was really fit for Yokohama and then even then I could not perform that day. Then I knew I was really fit for Edmonton and this one, but Edmonton again I got sick and I couldn’t do well. Today was my day and I am really happy with the whole race.”

Also with the win, Gomez became the first-ever WTS Montreal Champion after the debut event premiered this weekend.

The race started with 53 athletes diving in the pontoon of the Jacques-Cartier Basin, in the Old Port of Montreal, with a beautiful day, perfect for a non wetsuit swim. The best swimmer of the circuit, Richard Varga (SVK) took the lead from the very beginning, as he has done already in 31 WTS races in his career. But this time, following close behind were some other really strong swimmers, including Jonathan Brownlee (GBR), Ben Kanute (USA) and Aaron Royle (AUS). All of them finished the swim in a quite impressive 16.51. However, the two-lap swim caused a lot of the field to spread out, which surprisely put some of the strongest men on the field, such as Mario Mola (ESP) and Murray to lag in the back, they exited the waters 52 seconds behind.

The advantage was enough for the leading small pack to start the bike course with confidence. The four athletes were joined in the first lap by Gomez, Blummenfelt and Seth Rider (USA). Rider, showcasing one of the most impressive performances of the day: on his first ever WTS race, and with only 20 years of age, Rider managed to keep up with the pace of the leading pack for the whole bike course. And it was indeed a really fast pace up the Montreal hills and passing trough the streets in the heart of the city, with the leading seven athletes taking turns to lead the charge and increasing the pack with the pursuers. After nine laps, the difference was of more than a minute.

But leading that chasing pack, Mola and Murray kept pushing, knowing that they have some of the fastest legs in the circuit. But knowing, also, that three of the leading men had under 30 minutes runs in 10K WTS races: Gomez Noya, Brownlee and Blummenfelt.

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With the seven going through transition together, on the first meters of the run Gomez made clear that he is the man to beat when it comes to Olympic distance races. And that he is going to fight for the Series title again this year. He took the lead after the first 500m, followed only by the ones able to keep up with his pace: Blummenfelt and Brownlee.

Behind them, Mola and Murray started a frantic rhythm to chase athletes to find themselves on 4th and 5th position with one lap to go, and Brownlee decreasing the path.

After the 10k, Gomez crossed the finish line with a clear 15 seconds lead over Blummenfelt. The Spaniard earned his 14th WTS victory of his career, all of them on Olympic distance, which puts himself in the second place of the Series, right behind Mola.

After the race, Blummenfelt said: “I knew that Jonny was motivated to get away. I had a good swim and mounted on the bike with Javier, and kept up with him. Today we worked really hard for one hour on the bike, and it paid off”.

“I didn’t feel quite right today, my body wasn’t responding on the bike, but I gave everything I had. Two podiums in WTS in just one week is amazing”, said Murray.

For Blummenfelt, Montreal was his best ever WTS finish, with a silver medal. And the push on the final meters was enough for Murray to grab the bronze medal, mimicking his performance in Edmonton, and enough points to break the Spanish dominance on the Series. Fernando Alarza drops now to the fourth place, while Blummenfelt climbs to the fifth. Jonny Brownlee crossed the finish line fourth, exactly the same place as last week in Edmonton.


Ashleigh Gentle gets her first ever WTS win in Montreal

Australian triathlete Ashleigh Gentle became today the first ever winner of the 2017 ITU World Triathlon Montreal, in a brand new circuit that has became the newest addition to the WTS. The win was not only a first for the host city, but was a first for Gentle as she captured her first ever WTS gold. Along with her on the podium were Flora Duffy(BER), still the Series leader, and Andrea Hewitt (NZL).

The race started with a fantastic dive off the pontoon of the Jaques Cartier Basin in old town Montreal, with American Katie Zaferes leading since the very first strokes. Her lead carried on throughout the whole first leg as she was also the first out of the water for the second dive in, followed close by some other classic names when it comes to the swim, like Carolina Routier (ESP) and Emma Jeffcoat (AUS).

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After 1500m in the mild waters of the basic non-wetsuit swim, Zaferes managed to get a small gap of a couple seconds as she exited the waters, but was chased right after transition by a group of strong bikers.

Those who managed to get ahead in the swim grouped together in the first lap. Tallying thirteen athletes, the leading group imposed a frantic rhythm and increased the difference with the chasers on each of the nine laps at the brand new course. Montreal was indeed one of the hardest races of the season and with athletes coming straight from a sprint distance race last week, and another sprint in Hamburg a month ago, Montreal was planned as an Olympic distance, with a hilly and hard circuit, and nine laps to complete 41.5km.

During the 41.5km, the leading pack gave relays and turned up in front, trying to save some energy for the run. With all the big names in the group, including Duffy, Zaferes, Hewitt, Kirsten Kasper (USA), Taylor Knibb (USA) or Joanna Brown (CAN), among others.

When it came to the run, Gentle pushed hard since the first meters, being the fastest of the field this season in the Olympic distance, to leave all of the other athletes behind.

Gentle got a lead of nine seconds in the first lap, with only Duffy, Hewitt and Kasper keeping up with the frantic speed on the Montreal streets. With every pacing lap that lead only grew and eventually as she hit the bell it was enough to allow her to cross the finish line, stopping the clock on 1:59:04, to become the 20th female athlete to ever win a WTS race, and the fourth Australian, after Emma Moffatt, Erin Densham and Emma Snowsill.

Second to the finish line was Duffy, 23 seconds behind, while on third was Hewitt, to get the 20th podium of her career.

With her second place today, Duffy kept leading the Series with 3940 points, while Gentle climbed up to second place with 3286 points, followed by Zaferes with 3192.

After the race, a bursting in tears Gentle said: “I had so many things on my mind coming into this race… I needed to focus on the little things rather than the results, and I did. I made it. It has taken me six years to get on top of the WTS podium, six years of up and downs, a few second places… and I finally made it”.

Duffy was also “very happy for my second place”, but “really happy for Ashleigh. I knew this was gonna come at some point”.

Hewitt said: “I’ve been in this city 10 days training and I think that this has helped me a lot today. I loved the city and the course, and to be back to an Olympic distance race”.

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