|Not a member? Sign up now!|
The young New Zealand team enjoyed a stunning day at the ITU Continental Cup sprint race in Tahiti yesterday, with a clean sweep of the women’s race and a silver medal finish from Sam Ward in the men’s.
Triathlon New Zealand Assistant Coach Stephen Sheldrake was delighted with the effort of the entire team with 6 athletes in total inside the top five.
“All of the athletes have performed superbly well in foreign conditions and in small but strong fields, with the Aussies in particular sending some good athletes. While it is those in the top five who will generate the attention, it was a great hit out for the entire team to test themselves in international competition away from home so is invaluable from that perspective.”
The women’s clean sweep was led by Sophie Corbidge who won from Mikayla Nielsen and Laura Wood. They broke away on the bike along with Australian Lauren Parker with Elise Salt just missing that pack by 10 seconds out of the water; it was a gap she would not close.
Off the bike Corbidge ran superbly and held her form to the finish, with Nielsen just on ten seconds back in second and Wood in third, holding off Australian Parker to dominate the podium.
“This was a great hit out for Sophie, she looked in great running form,” said Sheldrake.
“Mikayla ran okay today but struggled a little with some back issues while Laura was steady all day for third. Elise just needed to be a little quicker out of the water to get in that lead group on the bike.”
In the men’s race Sam Ward mixed it up well with the Aussies to win silver behind Jacob Birtwhistle and ahead of New Zealand born Marcel Walkington. Walkington paid for a hard solo ride on the bike and was run down by Birtwhistle and Ward, with Ward only losing contact in the final kilometre. The effort of the Kiwi was all the more impressive given Birtwhistle has won a world secondary schools cross country title and is a recent recruit to Australian Triathlon from running.
The gap from 3rd to 5th was only 11 seconds, highlighting the importance of good transitions throughout any race, let alone the sprint distance raced in Tahiti.
ITU Continental Cup
1. Sophie Corbidge NZL
2. Mikayla Nielsen NZL
3. Laura Wood NZL
4. Lauren Parker AUS
5. Elise Salt NZL
1. Jacob Birtwhistle AUS
2. Sam Ward NZL
3. Marcel Walkington AUS
4. Frederic Tete TAH
5. Mike Phillips NZL
Full results not yet available, please check www.triathlon.org for details once posted