By Erin Greene on 07/09/14 at 7:45 pm
The 2014 Zofingen ITU Powerman Long Distance Duathlon World Championships saw new sheriffs score big with British Olympic cyclist Emma Pooley win the women’s race, while Gael Le Bellec (FRA) took the men’s title. Both athletes were competing in the world championship race for the first time and each destroyed the competition, Pooley winning by an astonishing 32 minutes and Le Bellec by a whopping four minutes.
Pooley won in a fantastic new track record of 6:47.27 which is more than 16 minutes faster than the Swiss Karin Thürig in 2002. Second place belonged Eva Nyström from Sweden 32 minutes away from the title, while third went to Switzerland’s own Laura Hrebec, 90 seconds behind Nyström.
But it was Pooley who controlled the women’s race from line to line. The 31-year-old was leading in the first 10km run, together with Hrebec. Trailing just seconds behind was German Julia Villehner and Susanne Svendsen from Denmark.
But the hunt for gold came to a hault for the rest of the field when powerful cyclist Pooley clocked a 16 minute advantage on the 150km bike. Hrebec held on to her second-place position off the bike, while the 2013 champ Nystrom trailed 23 minutes.
Pooley continued to power ahead, sailing over the finish line half an hour ahead of the competition despite stopping for a bathroom pit stop off the bike.
“I had to go to the toilette urgently and spent there a minute,“ said Pooley, who won silver in the time trial at the 2008 Olympic Games.
While Nyström couldn’t defend her title, she scooped up silver despite not knowing the day before the race if she could start because of a cold.
“I had big problems with the heat, I had a sore throat and I had to struggle towards the end of the race,” Nystrom said. “Emma Pooley’s victory was clear already at the end of the cycling session. On the final 30 running kilometers I suddenly got new energy and I could realise second place in the end which makes me very happy.”
Astonishing, as well, was the performance of Hrebec who eventually finished third. The 37-years-old is a running expert, having won the Geneva marathon last year. Hrebec started in Zofingen for the first time and jumped on the podium straight away.
Le Bellec, who like Pooley has experienced more success as a cyclist and also enjoyed his first appearance at the championship event, won in Zofingen more than four minutes ahead of his compatriot Yannick Cadalen and another 90 seconds ahead of third palce finisher Søren Bystrup from Denmark.
In its 26th edition, it seems a new trend kicked up at this year’s Powerman Zofingen, with the French taking over the leadership from the Belgium team. As the Swiss Andy Sutz, the winner of the Powerman Zofingen in 2008 and 2012 was injured, the sun this Sunday was shining for the French team.
But it wasn’t always so clear who would come out on top, as the men’s race was open for the taking after the 10km run and 150km cycle. In front was a group of six people consisting of the two Belgians Rob Woestenborghs and Joerie Vansteelant and the Frenchman Anthony Le Duey. But with a 30km run still looming, all bets were off.
On the final run lap, the Belgians blew up and fell out of contention, while the Frenchmen pushed each other to a double victory.
“It helped me a lot that we could work as a team towards the end of the race,“ said Le Bellec. “It’s a great honour for me to have beaten such great duathlon cracks as Vansteelant and Woestenborghs.“
Cadalen, meanwhile, transformed his eighth place finish last year in Zofingen to silver. Bystrup was the only returning medallist, having also finished third in 2012.
text: Raphael Galliker
|1.||Gaël Le Bellec||FRA||06:21:47|
|5.||Anthony Le Duey||FRA||06:38:17|
|7.||Anna Rovira Garrido||ESP||07:42:58|
Find more details about this event - 2014 Zofingen ITU Powerman Long Distance Duathlon World Championships