By World Triathlon Admin on 15/06/03 at 12:00 am
Release: 15 June 2003
Peter Robertson Out Sprints Frank Bignet for Win in Gamagori
Gamagori, Japan, 15 June 2003: For immediate Release: The start of the mens event was picture perfect as directed by the chief starter, Kiriyo Suzuki of Japan. As the large and impressive field of 65 men moved towards the first turn buoy on the 2 lap swim, there was no evidence of a breakaway as the entire field was still in an almost perfectly straight line.
At the halfway point of the swim, which is a very dramatic straight-through ramp onto the pontoon, then a second dive, Hirano Tsukasa of Japan was at the front followed by Frank Bignet of France, Joe Umphenour of the USA, Courtney Atkinson of Australia and Szabolcs Varga of Hungary. There was very little separation from the rest of the field.
Hirano Tsukasa exited the swim first and swept through transition with newcomer Andy Potts of the USA on his heels. Frank Bignet, Joe Umphenour and Hirokatsu Tayama of Japan quickly joined forces with Tsukasa and Potts as a tight working group of 5 at the front. A huge pack of over 40, that included most of the whos who of triathlon blew through transition led by Matt Reed of New Zealand. The chase group was down about 15 seconds at the start of the bike.
By the end of the 4th lap, the leaders increased their lead to almost 1 minute, while behind a group of 6 lead by Stephane Poulat of France split from the big pack in an attempt to catch the leaders. Meanwhile Chris Hill, World Ranked #1 and the winner of last weeks Tongyeong ITU World Cup withdrew from the competition because of a flat tire.
The group at the front continued to increase their lead through lap 5, as Simon Whitfield, Sydney Olympic Champion fell victim to the heat and humidity and withdrew from the competition.
The chase group finally started to make up some ground on the leaders through lap 6 and 7 and managed to reel them back to under 1 minute. Peter Hobor of Hungary and Nick Hornman of Australia made a credible breakaway at the end of the bike, which served to make the large chase pack work harder to catch the leaders.
On the last lap of the bike, the lead of the group of 5 at the front was cut to 30 seconds by the breakaway duo of Peter Hobor and Nick Nornman. Hirokatsu Tayama and Tsukasa Hirano were first through transition and onto the run, followed by Joe Umphenour, Andy Potts and Frank Bignet. The huge pack entered transition 45 seconds behind the leaders with Aussies Greg Bennett, Peter Robertson and Courtney Atkinson first of that group onto the run in the hunt for the leaders.
The question on everyones mind at this point was, Can the five at the front hold off the power runners like Peter Robertson, Greg Bennett and Dimitri Gaag, and was there enough time left for the leaders to hold on to their position at the front.
The entire 3 lap, 10km run course was very dramatic as athletes surged and faded. Frank Bignet posted his best results to date and at one point appeared to have such an insurmountable lead that he would be able to add the World Cup title to his credit. Sadly for this charismatic French athletes, this was Peter Robertsons day as he came from a 45 second deficit to steal the title from Bignet just as they entered the stadium for the last time. Greg Bennett, with another incredible run split, ran down the rest of the lead group to take the final podium position.
Prior to the race Peter Robertson said, I think Ill be good enough today to make it an Aussie sweep of the World Cup title. A rather prophetic statement given that Liz Blatchford had not won the womens title at that point.
The medal ceremony that followed the mens event was a delightful affair presided over by Princess Takamada and the Mayor of Gamagori and his wife. Presenting the champagne was Mr. Chiharu Igaya (IOC), ITU Vice President and Les McDonald, ITU President.
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Find more details about this event - 2003 Gamagori ITU Triathlon World Cup