NEW PLYMOUTH, NZ—With the race to the 2016 Olympic Summer Games gaining momentum, Canada’s Amelie Kretz cranked out a solid sixth-place finish at the Triathlon World Cup race in New Plymouth, New Zealand on Sunday.
The 22 year old was in the mix with many of the biggest names in the sport until the final lap of the sprint distance race en route to posting one of the best World Cup finishes of her young career with a time of 59 minutes, 42 seconds.
“The race went pretty well. The strategy today was just to execute a solid race in preparation for the Gold Coast (WTS race) next weekend, and see what I had in me after a big training block with little rest,” said Kretz, who has won a gold and silver medal in World Cup racing during her young career.
Kretz, of Blainville, Que., came out of first transition after the 750-metre beach start swim with a pack of 14 athletes who pedaled with each other for the entire four laps on the 20-kilometre bike course.
Eight athletes dropped off the leading pace when foot hit pavement for the lightening-quick five-kilometre run. Two of triathlon’s biggest stars, Gwen Jorgensen (United States) and Andrea Hewitt (New Zealand) quickly separated themselves from the group of eight at the end of the first lap of the run, leaving the young Canuck battling for bronze with four others over the final two laps.
“We went into this race pretty tired and I definitely felt it on the run. The legs were heavy,” added Kretz, who ran in third to sixth position for the final three kilometres of the race. “When Gwen surged I couldn’t go with her – then Kirsten Kasper surged and I couldn’t go. I just didn’t have the legs for it today.
“I gave everything I had on the day so I’m happy with my performance.”
Jorgensen’s legendary status continued to grow, winning the 17th straight race she has started, and in easy fashion with a time of 58:51. Home nation girl, Andrea Hewitt, finished 22 seconds back in the silver medal position at 59:13. Kirsten Kasper clocked-in at 59:20 to win the four-person competition for the final spot on the podium.
Sarah-Anne Brault, of Quebec City, also started in New Zealand. Brault was in the chase back on the bike and struggled to make up any ground on the leaders, finishing 21st at 1:00:51.
It was a difficult outing for the Canadian men. Xavier Grenier-Talavera, of Vaudreuil, Que., was the top Canuck placing 22nd with a time of 54:11. Michael Lori, of Tecumseh, Ont., was 47th at 55:44.
Richard Murray successfully defended his first World Cup title that came last year in New Plymouth. The South African bridged the gap in the first lap of the run and never looked back, running to a golden time of 53:08.
Denmark’s Andrew Schilling finished 20 seconds back of the leading mark in second at 53:28. Rostyslav Pevtsov, of Azerbaijan, won the race for the bronze medal by a hair after stopping the clock at 53:32.
Tyler Mislawchuk, of Oak Bluff, Man., was poised to charge for the podium. Coming out of the water in eighth spot, Mislawchuk settled into a large peloton for the 20-kilometre bike course, but did not continue on the run. Quebec City’s Alexis Lepage also pulled out of the race during the bike.
Canada’s best triathletes will now head to Australia’s Gold Coast for the second World Triathlon Series race of the year, and next critical stage of the Olympic selection, scheduled for April 9.
Top-Five Women’s Results:
1. Gwen Jorgensen, USA, 58:51; 2. Andrea Hewitt, NZL, 59:13; 3. Kirsten Kasper, USA, 59:20; 4. Mari Rabie, RSA, 59:28; 5. Miriam Casillas Garcia, ESP, 59:38
6. Amelie Kretz, Blainville, Que., 59:42; 21. Sarah-Anne Brault, Quebec City, 1:00:51
Top-Five Men’s Results:
1. Richard Murray, RSA, 53:08; 2. Andreas Schilling, DEN, 53:28; 3. Rostyslav Pevtsov, AZE, 53:32; 4. Ryan Sissons, NZL, 53:33; 5. Marten Van Riel, BEL, 53:34
21. Xavier Grenier-Talavera, Vaudreuil, Que., 54:11; 47. Michael Lori, Tecumseh, Ont., 55:44; DNF. Tyler Mislawchuk, Oak Bluff, Man.; DNF. Alexis Lepage, Quebec City