By Chelsea White on 04/11/17 at 8:08 am
Ending the 2017 world cup season with a bang, USA’s Summer Cook and Marten Van Riel of Belgium were crowned victorious at the 2017 Miyazaki ITU Triathlon World Cup. With the wins, both Cook and Van Riel collected career milestones. Cook earned her second straight world cup gold after winning in Tongyeong the week before and also claimed the Miyazaki title for the very first time. While Van Riel seized his very first career world cup win.
The standard distance race that debuted in Miyazaki for only the second time in ITU history, was, for also the second straight year, the final race of the world cup season, putting the 2017 year to rest after an exciting 15-stop global tour that began in February.
After losing the inaugural Miyazaki title in 2016, Cook lined up for Saturday’s race bound and determined to change her fate in the final world cup race of the 2017 season. Dominating the field through the swim, bike and run, Cook snagged the title to collect her third world cup gold of the year.
“I am really happy with today’s race. It felt great to be able to back up my win in Tongyeong last week with another win. I feel like I completed some things better than I did last week, so I am really happy about that and I am really happy about the process that I put forth in order to achieve my result today. I am looking to take these last two results and the things I accomplished from the whole process and take them into next season,” Cook said of her win.
Spivey took the silver medal, to total two world cup podiums in her season, while the bronze went to Jackson who ends her season with her third world cup medal.
“I am so happy to finish the season strong. I worked really hard today and it paid off,” said Taylor of finishing her season with a silver medal,” said Spivey.
The women opened up the final Olympic distance race of the year with a beach start into the two-lap swim. The field split into two groups exiting the waters, with Cook, Spivey and Japan’s Yuko Takahashi leading the charge.
Mounting onto the bikes a group of nine women containing Cook, Spivey, Jackson, Takahashi, Edda Hannesdottir (ICL), Valerie Barthelemy (BEL), Verena Steinhauser (ITA), Yuka Sato (JPN) and Angelica Olmo (ITA) formed.
After a tough swim, the 2016 Miyazaki champion Ai Ueda (JPN) fell into the larger chase group that remained a steady two minutes back from the leaders for the entirety of the 40-kilometre course.
The front nine remained solid throughout the bike, keeping their gap at a steady 48-second lead over the next competitors. It wasn’t until they were through the second transition and onto the run that they separated.
Only one lap in and Cook pushed ahead as the frontrunner. Behind her, Spivey, Jackson, Takahashi and Barthelemy battled for the two remaining podium spots.
Cook was untouched for the whole 10-kilometres, increasing her lead after each lap until she came into the finish line to win by a 38-second margin. Her win would be her third of the year and first at the Japanese venue.
Spivey would break away next to come second, with Jackson just edging out Barthelemy for the bronze.
Jackson said of the medal, “I am happy with the race and getting on the podium. I didn’t have the best season with getting injured early in the season, so to finish with my third world cup podium for the year I can’t complain too much.”
Despite the struggle in the water and the three-minute deficit heading into the run, Ueda ended the day with the fastest run split with a time of 34:23. USA’s Chelsea Sodaro also had an impressive run performance and had the second-fastest time in the day, also doing so by having to overcome a 15-second penalty during a T1 error.
He earned a silver in Sarasota and a bronze in Tongyeong, but Van Riel finally seized his much-anticipated gold medal in the Miyazaki World Cup.
“I can’t be happier with how the season ended for me. Three podiums in the world cup, I didn’t expect that. I was hoping for one podium in one of the three races, but I have every medal now so I am very happy,” Van Riel said of his first career gold.
Coming down to a near-sprint finish, Van Riel just edged out Hernandez who claimed the silver, while the bronze then went to Schilling.
“I am happy with the race, I couldn’t expect anything better. I was in front and I finally lost in the final sprint. I felt a little tired because I raced a half distance, so I probably needed a little bit of a fast movement at the end. But I am pretty happy, it was a good finish for the season,” Hernandez commented.
With the wind picking up for the men’s race, the waters welcomed a choppy and wavier start than the earlier women’s race. Frenchman Aurelien Raphael led out of the swim after both laps in the swim, alongside Makuto Odakura (JPN). However, the men did not spread out in the water like the women did and so a long train entered the first transition together.
That busyness carried over into the bike, where two large packs pulled together to tally over thirty men on the second lap. Small breakaway attempts were made early in the ride, but it wasn’t until a group of five led by Van Riel went that it stuck.
Van Riel, Hernandez, Schilling, Matthew Sharpe (CAN) and Gregory Barnaby (ITA) rode strong and clinched a gap between the huge line of men chasing, which included names such as Alessandro Fabian (ITA), Uxio Abuin Ares (ESP), Eric Lagerstrom (USA) and Rodrigo Gonzalez (MEX).
The leading five continued to increase their lead after each lap and as they entered the second transition, they had a lead of about a minute, meaning that more than likely the podium would come from within the five cyclists.
Out of the gate, Van Riel and Hernandez hustled forward to become the leading two. But a battle for third was just moments behind them within Sharpe and Schilling.
However, as Van Riel and Hernandez powered on, Sharpe eventually could not hang on with Schilling and it then became clear who the top three were. The gold was still insights for both Van Riel and Hernandez and just when it looked like it might come to a photo finish sprint, Van Riel put in a last effort to pull ahead on the blue carpet to beat out Hernandez for the win.
Hernandez then came second, with Schilling entered the chute for third place unchallenged for the final five kilometres.
Commenting on being a part of the breakaway pack that ultimately sealed his fate for the bronze, Schilling said, “We worked together perfectly, so it is a nice way to end the season.”
Surviving the congested T2, the fastest run splits of the day went to Belgium’s Jelle Geens (31:01) and Abuin Ares (31:04).
Find more details about this event - 2017 Miyazaki ITU Triathlon World Cup