The season-opening World Triathlon Championship Series in Yokohama was held over the Olympic distance of a 1.5-kilometre swim, 40km cycle and 10km run
Norwegian ace Kristian Blummenfelt sent out an early warning ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games, winning the elite men’s race of the season-opening World Triathlon Championship Series in Yokohama on Saturday.
Earlier in the women’s event, Taylor Knibb led an American onslaught on the podium, winning her maiden World Triathlon Championship Series title to secure a berth for the Tokyo Olympic Games (in 2021).
Blummenfelt had to work hard for his victory in a loaded field, looking to bank crucial Olympic qualification points and to lay down an early marker. The 27-year-old Blummenfelt took the tape in one hour, 42 minutes and 55 seconds (1:42:55) with Belgian Jelle Geens (1:43:05) finishing second. Morgan Pearson of the United States rounded off the podium in a time of 1:43:12 to punch his ticket for Tokyo 2020.
Chief among the challengers was reigning men’s world champion Vincent Luis, who was the first man out of the water and onto the bike. A large pack formed on the 40km cycling leg with Luis leading the charge.
With no clear breakaway on the bicycle leg, a quartet consisting of German Jonas Schomburg, Geens, Blummenfelt, and Great Britain’s Alex Yee found some daylight on the opening lap of the 10km run leg.
Geens led the run during the early stages, with Blummenfelt putting the needle down in the final lap for an outright lead. Blummenfelt’s blistering run of 29 minutes and 26 seconds was the fastest on the day and ultimately earned him the gold medal. The Belgian held on for second place with a determined Pearson racing home in third.
Top-10 men's results:
1 Kristian Blummenfelt (Norway) 1:42:55
2 Jelle Geens (Belgium) 1:43:05
3 Morgan Pearson (United States) 1:43:12
4 Alex Yee (Great Britain) - 1:43:17
5 Henri Schoeman (South Africa) 1:43:26
6 Vincent Luis (France) 1:43:35
7 Marten van Riel (Belgium) 1:43:37
8 Léo Bergere (France) 1:43:37
9 Gustav Iden (Norway) 1:43:39
10 Jonas Schomburg (Germany) 1:43:40
1-2 podium finish for US women
The 23-year-old Knibb was in dominant form, winning the swim-bike-run event by 30 seconds with a time of 1 hour, 54 minutes and 27 seconds (1:54.27).
Knibb’s compatriot Summer Rappaport, who has already secured her place in the Olympics, earned the second step on the podium thanks to a strong final surge on the run leg to relegate Dutchwoman Maya Kingma to third place. Rappaport crossed the line in a time of 1:54:57 with Kingma claiming the bronze medal in 1:55:05.
Knibb came out of the water in fourth place and broke away with Kingma past the halfway point on the 40km cycle leg. The two race leaders went out of the final transition with a more than two minutes lead over the rest of the field. Knibb made her move early on the last leg opening a 35-second gap on Kingma at the halfway mark of the 10km run to claim the blue-carpet victory.
Behind her, Rappaport was in rampant form on the run leg edging past Kingma for a US 1-2 podium finish. Rappaport produced the fastest run leg on the day finishing the 10km course in 33 minutes and 24 seconds (33.24).
Top-10 women's results:
1 Taylor Knibb (United States) 1:54:27
2 Summer Rappaport (United States) 1:54:57
3 Maya Kingma (Netherlands) 1:55:05
4 Taylor Spivey (United States) 1:55:23
5 Julia Hauser (Austria) 1:55:26
6 Sophie Coldwell (Great Britain) 1:55:28
7 Non Stanford (Great Britain) 1:55:31
8 Miriam Casillas García (Spain) 1:55:32
9 Claire Michel (Belgium) 1:55:39
10 Cassandre Beaugrand (France) 1:55:42