Palmerston North’s Kris Gemmell went back to back at the Contact Tri Series today, a race encompassing the ITU Oceania Triathlon Championships, but unlike last year when pipped by Frenchman Laurent Vidal (ineligible to win the Oceania title), today the glory and the finish tape was all Gemmell’s as he won outright from Australian Aaron Royle and Ryan Sissons (NZL), who claimed the U23 title in coming home third overall.
Gemmell was always in control of the race, leading virtually the entire way, making his break for victory well before the finish line and cruising home to the cheers of the large crowd.
“This is important to me, to go back to back as Oceania and New Zealand champion feels great and today and I will be proud to carry both titles with me around the world for the remainder of the year. I do however have a half ironman next week that my coach Chris Pilone has organised for me and I know what a sprint can do to you so I was keen to make the break reasonably early and not have to sprint to the finish line, it’s amazing how 80 metres can take 4 days to recover from!”
Gemmell praised the work of young Tom Davison (Christchurch) especially as the lead bike group kept the chasers at bay throughout the 40km ride.
“I think there is a bit of evolution this year leading into the Olympics, there are some young kiwis that are swimming really well knowing that if they can then bike hard they can make some of these runners hurt. I tried to motivate the group as much as I could, we had a couple of really strong guys and Tom was one of them, we never took the foot off the gas and kept committed and eventually broke the chasing bunch.”
Royle was the best of the big Australian contingent in second followed home by Sissons who ran superbly but was left once again to rue a poor swim.
“It was a great field, I knew it was going to be make or break in the swim and unfortunately I found myself in the second pack again which is not ideal and makes the race so much harder for me. We tried to catch on the bike but it just didn’t work. It’s always that ten seconds but the lead guys want to get away and the chase pack just didn’t work hard enough to close them down. I luckily had an amazing run to finish third and win the under 23’s but I know I can run with Gemmell, it’s just a matter of coming off the bike with him or I can’t do much.”
In the women’s race Vicky Holland (GBR) continued her love affair with New Zealand this summer, taking out the final round of the Contact Tri Series in Wellington in a race that like the men also carried New Zealand championship status and ITU Oceania Championships – albeit the British triathlete wasn’t eligible for either honour.
She was up for the prize money and the prestige though on a blustery but warm Wellington day, breaking away from doughty Czech Republic triahtlete Vendula Frintova to win by 8 seconds, backing up from her Takapuna victory last month.
“I think I am three from three, it’s not bad down here, I think I like it! I had a rough start in the swim but it came together and I was in the lead pack on the bike, took a few turns and felt good heading out on to the run feeling like a could run well. I was yo-yoing off the back of Vendula for a few laps but on the last lap when I sensed her dropping off a bit and surged and took the victory.”
Holland did struggle at times with the blustery Southerly, albeit one blowing only gently for the locals lining the course in their thousands.
“The wind was crazy, one second you are hardly moving because it is so strong then you turn a corner and you are down through the gears and the speed is incredible, it was pretty comical really but so long as you are prepared it doesn’t make a difference and is the same for everyone.”
Ashleigh Gentle (Australia) ran strongly for third place and the Oceania title. Best of the Kiwis was 20 year old Rebecca Kingsford (Tirau) as she upstaged her more experienced rivals to not only claim Kiwi honours but in the process win the Oceania U23 title in coming home 6th overall.
“I’m over the moon, I didn’t expect to be best Kiwi, Andrea was unfortunate with her mishap but she still ran pretty good and I just didn’t want her to past me and sprinted at the end so yeah, it was good. I have sorted out a few medical problems from last year and it is all going good, I’m working hard with my coaches and looking forward to a big season.”
The bad luck story of the day though belonged to world number six Andrea Hewitt, the defending champion looked to be in great form and was comfortably in the lead group early on the bike, only to stop twice, first to check what appeared to be a puncture and then again a lap later when her rear tyre exploded in spectacular fashion.
Hewitt lost over 3 minutes but carried on to finish in 6th thanks to the fourth fastest run split of the day.
“On the first lap I must have got a nail or something in the wheel, I could feel something bumping, I stopped to change the wheel but it was still pumped up so I kept going but on the next lap ‘boom’ it went and I had no choice to but stop and change the wheel. It is a real bummer, I was feeling good and in a good position and then this, it is pretty much the same as crashing, it puts you out of the race really.”
Not surprisingly given their limited preparation, both Debbie Tanner and Kate McIlroy struggled with the pace on the run with Tanner dropping back to finish 7th and McIlroy calling it a day early on the run, content with a strong hit out on the swim and bike.
The day saw close to one thousand participants in events ranging from the children’s Contact 1:2:1 to the beginners Contact 3:9:3 and age group racing with national titles and qualification for the Beijing World Championships on the line.
Full results can be viewed at www.triseries.co.nz later on Saturday.
Contact Tri Series
1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run
Incorporating the ITU Oceania Championships (Oceania nations only) and NZ Standard Distance Championships (New Zealanders only)
1Kris Gemmell PNth/NZL 1:51:46
2 Aaron Royle AUS 1:51:51
3 Cameron Good AUS 1:52:35
4 Tony Dodds Wanaka/NZL 1:52:40
5 Martin Van Barneveld Wgtn/NZL 1:52:43
6 David Matthews AUS 1:52:58
7 Ryan Fisher AUS 1:53:02
8 James Elvery Chch/NZL 1:53:22
9 Drew Box AUS 1:53:29
10 Jesse Featonby AUS 1:53:34
1 Ryan Sissons Auck/NZL 1:52:26
2 Tom Davison Chch/NZL 1:54:14
3 Michael Poole Auck/NZL 1:55:25
1 Vicky Holland GBR 2:05:12
2 Vendula Frintova CZE 2:05:20
3 Ashleigh Gentle AUS 2:06:06
4 Elizabeth May LUX 2:07:03
5 Charlotte McShane AUS 2:07:46
6 Andrea Hewitt Chch/NZL 2:08:09
7 Debbie Tanner Auck/NZL 2:08:21
8 Felicity Sheedy-Ryan AUS 2:08:27
9 Lisa Marangon AUS 2:10:53
10 Yuko Takahashi JPN 2:14:06
1 Rebecca Kingsford Tirau/NZL 2:08:07
2 Simone Ackerman Auck/NZL 2:11:41
3 Penny Hayes Sthld/NZL 2:12:43