By Brian Mahony on 27/04/15 at 5:29 pm
After four rounds of the 2015 ITU World Triathlon Series, things are starting to get interesting at the top of the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings. Let’s see what we learned form Cape Town.
Cape Town proved to be a huge return to form for the Great Britain team. The previous three races had yielded an uncharacteristic best of just two 17th place finishes, for a squad which has suffered from the injury and absence of its star names and consistent podium finishers. Helen Jenkins and Vicky Holland were returning to WTS competition for the first time since Hamburg last July hoping to improve that record.
It proved to be a marquee day for Vicky Holland who would take her first World Triathlon Series podium with victory in her 26th career WTS race. With Helen Jenkins seventh and a career best result from Emma Pallant in tenth – she had never previously been inside the top 25 – that was the first time since last year’s Cape Town event the British women had secured three of the top ten finishing positions.
In the absence of the Gwen Jorgensen in South Africa, Team USA may only have secured one of the three podium spots this time around but if anything, their strength in depth was perhaps enhanced further. Katie Zaferes (second), Kirsten Kasper (sixth) and Chelsea Burns (ninth) all matched or improved on their best ever World Triathlon Series results and in so doing continued the sequence of having at least three top ten finishes by U.S. women in all four of the 2015 events. The USA now has a total of seven women who have finished in a top ten position at least once in the 2015 World Triathlon Series. Kasper’s result also makes her the biggest rankings mover at Cape Town rising 39 places from 63rd to 24th.
For Zaferes, three second places and one third make her the only athlete, male or female, to have made the podium in every race so far this season and with that she now takes over pole position in the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings. With five events plus the Grand Final to count towards the year-end total that represents a great start to her 2015 campaign.
Much like the British, Cape Town was also a great day for Germany. Without a single top ten finish in the first three races, Sophie Saller (fourth), Rebecca Robisch (fifth) and Anne Haug (eighth) took three in Cape Town, with those results representing career best WTS finishes for both Saller and Robisch.
Cape Town also represented the welcome return to the World Series for reigning Olympic Champion Nicola Spirig. Her last WTS event was a win in Kitzbuhel prior to winning the Olympic title in 2012, and her Bronze medal in South Africa was achieved just six days after running 2:46:08 for second place at the Zurich Marathon.
Saturday was an interesting day for Sarah True too. While 13th position was her first time outside of the top ten this season, it did mean that she was able to move up from fourth to third in the rankings behind fellow Americans Zaferes and Jorgensen. Sarah also had an interesting day in transition, with the fastest T1 but also the slowest T2!
With younger brother Jonathan taking a break following his wins in Auckland and Gold Coast, it was over to a returning Alistair Brownlee to represent British hopes in Cape Town. Showing little sign of the injury which has delayed the start of his 2015 season, Alistair took his 18th WTS win (21st podium) from just 27 race starts. That is eight victories more than both Jonathan and Javier Gomez who both have ten to their name since 2009.
The last time that both the women’s and men’s races at the same event were won by athletes from the same country prior to Cape Town was Kitzbuhel 2013, when Alistair Brownlee and Jodie Stimpson took victory on the bike course which comprised the infamous Kitzbueheler Horn climb. That country ‘win double’ has only been achieved six times in the 51 WTS events since 2009; five times by Great Britain and once by Australia (Hamburg 2011: Brad Kahlefeldt and Emma Moffatt).
He may have been beaten to the line again, but Javier Gomez continues to excel. Three consecutive podium finishes alongside sixth place in the Abu Dhabi season opener now leave him on top of the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings. His consistency is also exceptional, with a total now of 31 World Series podium finishes from his 43 race starts.
The consistency of the Spanish athletes was evident once again in Cape Town. Fernando Alarza (fifth) secured his fourth consecutive top-10 finish, with Mario Mola (eighth) meaning that the red and yellow colours were to the fore once again. With Jonathan Brownlee absent in Cape Town, Javier, Mario and Fernando now hold the top three positions in the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings ahead of the next event in Yokohama.
Since the inception of the World Triathlon Series in 2009, no country has achieved a clean sweep of the medal positions in the year-end rankings, but right now the USA (women) and Spain (men) are in that position after four events. Last season the U.S. (Jorgensen, True) and Spain (Gomez, Mola) took World Championship Gold and Silver – will 2015 provide the opportunity to go one better? With Rio 2016 looming large, that is a great position for their Federations to be in.
While the U.S. women are dominating, there are certainly signs of improvement for their men’s squad too. A WTS winner in 2009, Jarrod Shoemaker improved again in Cape Town, his season results so far being 26th/22nd/12th. Sean Jefferson has also improved in his three 2015 starts (44th/42nd/26th) while Kevin McDowell moves up 22 places in the rankings to 31st after finishing 16th in Cape Town.
If Nicola Spirig was the returning Swiss in the women’s race, Sven Riederer really is Mr. Consistent for their men’s team. Sixth in Cape Town was his second top ten from two starts in 2015, and also represents his 20th top ten in 40 WTS starts. The 2004 Olympic Bronze medalist shows no signs of slowing any time soon.
It was another Swiss athlete, Andrea Salvisberg, who made the biggest move in position up the rankings after Cape Town. His 21st place finish moved him from 65th to 41st and a new total of 234 points.
Frenchman Pierre Le Corre is also having a great year. A Bronze medal in Auckland was followed by sixth in Gold Coast and seventh in Cape Town, results that leave him currently in sixth position overall in the rankings. Pierre also had a great day in Cape Town in the transition area with the fastest time for both T1 and T2. Le Corre crossed the line nine seconds ahead of Mario Mola on Sunday, yet made up 14 seconds on Mario in the transition areas. It really is the fourth discipline.
Another French athlete achieved a personal milestone in Cape Town. Vincent Luis earned the Silver medal in Abu Dhabi this year to add to previous WTS podium finishes in Stockholm 2012 (third) and Hamburg 2014 (second). Those three medals had all been earned over the Sprint distance however, and so Sunday represented his first medal over the longer Olympic Distance format. That should give him additional confidence in the build up towards Rio 2016.
The next stop on the World Triathlon Series is Yokohama, Japan on May 16th, and the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings Report will be back then to bring you all the insights from the Series.
Columbia Threadneedle Rankings following ITU World Triathlon, Cape Town
1st – Katie Zaferes (USA) 2905
2nd – Gwen Jorgensen (USA) 2400
3rd – Sarah True (USA) 1947
4th – Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 1904
5th – Lindsay Jerdonek (USA) 1387
6th – Flora Duffy (BER) 1376
7th – Rebecca Robisch (GER) 1268
8th – Barbara Riveros (CHI) 1202
9th – Vendula Frintova (CZE) 1075
10th – Emma Moffatt (AUS) 1025
Biggest rankings mover: Kirsten Kasper (USA) – from 63rd to 24th (444 points)
Highest new entry to rankings: Vicky Holland (GBR) – 17th (800 points)
1st – Javier Gomez Noya (ESP) 2707
2nd – Mario Mola (ESP) 2273
3rd – Fernando Alarza (ESP) 2221
4th – Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) 2186
5th – Richard Murray (RSA) 1904
6th – Pierre Le Corre (FRA) 1728
7th – Crisanto Gajales (MEX) 1429
8th – Vincent Luis (FRA) 1425
9th – Ryan Bailie (AUS) 1305
10th – Joao Pereira (POR) 1175
Biggest rankings mover: Andrea Salvisberg (SUI) – from 65th to 41st (234 points)
Highest new entry to rankings: Alistair Brownlee (GBR) – 16th (800 points)
The full Columbia Threadneedle Rankings can be accessed at: http://wts.triathlon.org/ColumbiaThreadneedleRankings
This report is brought to you by Columbia Threadneedle Investments, Global Financial Services partner of the ITU World Triathlon Series.
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