Kris Gemmell was the only Kiwi to crack the top 20 in a fast-paced day of racing at the Dextro Energy ITU World Championship Series in Hamburg, Germany this morning (NZT).
With series leader Alistair Brownlee of Great Britain not on the start line, it was an incredibly wide open race with around 50 athletes coming out of transition together off the bike and into a frenetic 10km run.
Australian Brad Kahlefeldt won the race in dramatic style, holding off Will Clarke (GBR) and David Hauss (FRA) in a sprint finish to secure his first ever World Championship title.
Gemmell showed the quickest heels of the New Zealand contingent with a run time of 31.03 to finish 17th overall, just over a minute behind Kahlefeldt. Martin van Barneveld was the next Kiwi across the finish line in 27th.
Ryan Sissons had a race he will want to forget, blowing up on the run after being well poised coming off the bike – ending up in 45th place.
Slovakia’s Richard Varga set the tone early and led the swim from start to finish, coming out of the water in a time of 16:54 with Spain’s Javier Gomez hot on his heels. All three Kiwis entered transition together 40 seconds back with Sissons 24th, Gemmell 25th and van Barneveld 27th.
Gemmell stamped his mark on the bike and was involved in a two-man breakaway halfway through the 40km course along with Denmark’s Emil Dalgaard. The pair held the lead for several kilometres before being caught by a strong chase pack.
Gemmell hung tough near the front into the run but was forced to serve a 15 second penalty which saw him lose touch with the leaders.
Midway through the run a six-man breakaway group formed as Kahlefeldt, Clarke, Hauss, Gomez, Joao Silva and Sebastian Rank kicked into another gear.
Defending Hamburg champion Gomez attempted to pull away from the bunch with around 3km to go but Kahlefeldt and Clarke stuck with him.
The pace increased yet again in the final kilometre and with 300m to go it looked like Will Clarke would take the win, until Kahlefeldt put on a sprint over the final 100m to break the tape first.
It was a searing pace on the run, with the top four all going below the 30 minute mark.
The result also sees a shake-up in the series rankings with Javier Gomez’s sixth place good enough for him to snatch the overall lead from Alistair Brownlee. Clarke now sits second overall while Hauss is third and Brownlee drops to seventh.
The elite women’s race starts at 1.20am Monday morning (NZT) featuring Andrea Hewitt, Kate McIlroy, Debbie Tanner and Rebecca Spence.
For more information and full results go to www.triathlon.org