Clark Ellice upset his more seasoned opponents to win the latest round of the Contact My Sport Series and with it the New Zealand Sprint Distance Triathlon Championships in Kinloch (Taupo) today.
The women’s race was won by world number ten Anja Ditmar (Ger) from New Zealand’s world number five Debbie Tanner in what was for both the first race of the season.
Ellice was delighted with his win in perfect conditions at idyllic Kinloch, giving the New Plymouth athlete a great boost ahead of the final Olympic qualifying race at Mooloolaba in late March.
“This is just awesome a great won to win. When Bevan (Docherty) and Kris (Gemmell) attacked up the hill on the last bike lap I thought I would struggle to hold on but I stayed in touch into transition and then held on for the run.”
“This is a great start to the year for me, especially after such a shocker year last year and gives me great hope that I can get to Beijing. Everything is on track, I’m not getting carried away but to run with the likes of Docherty and Reed and finish strong is just fantastic.”
Ellice is one of a few likely contenders to win the final berth in the NZ team at the Beijing Olympics, with Shane Reed, Terenzo Bozzone and James Elvery others set to contend at the final qualifying race in Mooloolaba in late March.
Ellice won from Bevan Docherty, with the world number four enjoying his days work.
“Today was a lot of fun and a great way to clear a few cobwebs away. To race at home in front of a great crowd is a real bonus. I’m happy with the training which essentially at the moment is to hammer myself as hard as I can and then look to find that racing speed later in the year.”
Dittmer and Tanner raced side by side throughout the sprint distance event and shared a post race interview too. Dittmer loved her Kinloch experience.
“That was a good race and good to race against Debbie. We race against each other many times on the World Cup circuit and enjoy training together sometimes too so today was nice. The course was wonderful, a good hard bike with a hill and a great crowd to support us.”
Tanner, who was crowned New Zealand Sprint Distance Champion as the first Kiwi across the line, emphasized today was about more than just the race itself.
“It is important to get back racing and back into good habits, not only on race day. The preparation and final few days before a race is just as important. I’m certainly happy with my form and where I am in my training programme. This is a big season, I’m happy to give Anja this one but I promise to try and turn the tables on the big day in Beijing in August.”
Close to 600 athletes took part in all races on the day, with New Zealand titles and qualification for the Sprint Distance World Championships in Vancouver up for grabs in all age group and elite races.
Wanaka’s Tony Dodds raced superbly to win the U23 title by over a minute from Andrew Curtayne (Auck) and Martin van Barneveld (Wgtn). Dodds was in touch with the likes of Docherty, Ellice and Reed for most of the race, finishing fourth overall.
The women’s U23 race was won by taken out by Dunedin’s Sarah Bryant from Julia Grant (Chch) and Jaqui Seebold (Auckland).
The U19 elite races also carried the Oceania Championship titles and were dominated by a strong contingent of Australia’s best young Triathletes as they continued their preparation for the World Championships.
The green and gold took out the first three placing’s in the women’s race with Ashleigh Gentle an impressive winner from Holly Aitken and Meg Russell. Gentle simply ran away from the field with a 17.44 five kilometre run split.
First Kiwi home and taking out the National Championship title on the back of another good run split was Sophie Corbridge (Auck) in fourth place.
Triathlon New Zealand CEO Dave Beeche was delighted in another great day for the sport but emphasized the support enjoyed from the local Taupo community.
“This is clearly our biggest race of the summer so far with nearly 600 competitors but we couldn’t have done it without the great support and partnership with the Taupo Tri Club. The Contact Standard Distance race this morning is a long standing event put on by the local club. Today is proof that Tri NZ can work well with a local club to put on a great day of triathlon and bring to it national significance with the Contact My Sport Series and sprint distance championships.”
The Contact My Sport Series now moves on to Napier on February 23 before finishing the season with the National Championship and Oceania Championship race in Wellington on March 9.
Full results will be available at www.triathlon.org.nz later this evening.
New Zealand Sprint Distance Triathlon Championships
Contact My Sport Series Kinloch
Race Distance 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run (times will vary as the U19’s rode a different bike course to the elite and U23 competitors)
1 Clark Ellice New Plymouth 59.28
2 Bevan Docherty Taupo 59.39
3 Shane Reed New Plymouth 59.44
4 Kris Gemmell Palmerston North 59.52
5 Callum Millward Havelock North 1.00.26
1 Anja Dittmer Germany 1.07.50
2 Debbie Tanner Auckland 1.08.15
3 Katherine Anton Whangarei 1.09.34
4 Julia Scopes 1.12.09
5 Kelly Bruce Auckland 1.13.32
6 Janine Sax Mount Maunganui 1.14.31
1 Tony Dodds Wanaka 59.49
2 Andrew Curtayne Auckland 1.01.03
3 Martin van Barneveld Wellington 1.01.11
1 Sarah Bryant Dunedin 1.12.45
2 Julia Grant Christchurch 1.13.40
3 Jacqui Seebold Auckland 1.13.59
1 Jamie Huggett Australia 57.41
2 Jos Hoetjes Christchurch 57.46
3 Anthony McSweeny Australia 57.47
1 Ashleigh Gentle Australia 1.04.04
2 Holly Aitken Australia 1.05.34
3 Meg Russell Australia 1.05.47