Chris McCormack (AUS) and Caroline Steffen (SUI) take 2012 ITU Long Distance Triathlon world titles in Spain
Photo Credit: ITU
Vitoria-Gasteiz - Australia's Chris McCormack and Switzerland's Caroline Steffen have claimed the 2012 ITU Long Distance World Championships, over the 4km swim, 120km bike and 30km run in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain today.
Elite Men's Review
Australia's Chris McCormack added the ITU Long Distance World Championship to his already impressive resume with a stellar run leg in Vitoria-Gasteiz on Sunday, bettering Spain's Eneko Llanos and Luxembourg's Dirk Bockel over the 4km swim, 120km bike and 30km run.
The 1997 ITU World Champion and two-time Kona winner said it was one of the most special wins of his career, largely thanks to the huge crowd gathered in Spain's basque country.
"It was incredible...there was so many people on run course today and it really made the run fast," McCormack said. "It's a fantastic victory for me, I've won lots of races in my life but this one is very special."
McCormack's last ITU world title came in 1997, and yesterday he was among the favourites in this year's long distance world titles. However he left the water in the middle of the pack and two minutes down on Llanos and Bockel among others. While he made up time in the bike leg, he still exited T2 in sixth place and with plenty of ground to make up over the leaders.
But after serving a 15 second penalty, McCormack started to reel in those ahead of him. While Llanos had rocketed to the lead in the first lap of the run, overtaking Denmark's Emil Dalgaard to do so, he couldn't hold off a charging McCormack. The Australian hit the front at the start of the third lap of four, and surged ahead to claim his first ITU Long Distance world title. He said the past 18-months of Olympic distance training and racing had helped give him the speed he needed in the run. He was the only man to go under 1 hour and 45 minutes, with a split of 1 hour 44 minutes and 55 seconds in the final leg.
Llanos was the people's favourite in his home town of Vitoria-Gasteiz, but said he couldn't be disappointed with a silver medal. While Bockel was exhausted, but pleased with his bronze, his first world championships medal. Dalgaard ended-up finishing in fourth spot, after leading from the swim through to the start of the run, and Ukraine's Viktor Zemtsev clocked the second fastest run split of the day to finish 6th.
Elite Women's Review
A killer bike leg helped Caroline Steffen to her second ITU Long Distance World Triathlon Championship, as she turned a lead at T2 into a world title winning margin ahead of Denmark's Camilla Pedersen and Great Britain's Jodie Swallow in Vitoria-Gasteiz.
Steffen - who also won this title in 2010 - paid tribute to the Spanish crowd, as thousands lined the streets to cheer on the elite and age-group athletes in Spain's basque country.
"Of course I'm very happy, it's another title, my second one, I'm really glad I had a good race today," she said. "I never saw as many people on a race course before. It was unbelievable on the bike and on the run."
The eventual medallists emerged right from the start in Spain, as Swallow exited the water first, with Pedersen and Steffen just a few minutes behind. While Swallow pushed the pace at the front for the first lap, Steffen took the lead at the start of the second 60km lap and didn't look back. She left T2 with a six minute lead on the field, and with the third-fastest run split of the day, it was more than enough to hold on to win. Steffen crossed the line for gold in a time of 6 hours 4 minutes and 17 seconds, a full five minutes ahead of Denmark's Pedersen who claimed her first ITU World Championship medal.
The 2011 ETU Long Distance European champion was sitting in third leaving T2, but overtook a slowing Swallow at the 24 kilometre mark of the 30km run. It was another impressive result for Pedersen in just her second full year competing at the elite level. Swallow was one of three previous title winners in the field, but said her bronze medal marked an important point in her comeback from severe plantar fasciitis. Spain's Virginia Berasategi posted the fastest run split of the day, a time of 2 hours 2 minutes and 34 seconds, to finish fourth, while her teammate Maider Gaztañaga Dorronsoro finished fifth.