Jodie Stimpson (GBR) and Crisanto Grajales (MEX) storm to first ITU World Cup titles in Guatape, Colombia
Photo Credit: ITU
Guatape, Colombia - At one of the toughest courses on the entire ITU circuit, Great Britain's Jodie Stimpson and Mexico's Crisanto Grajales proved their class, storming to their first career ITU World Cup titles. A hilly course set at altitude is what pushes athletes to their max in Guatape.
Elite Women's Review
Stimpson put up a staggeringly dominant performance at the 2012 Guatape ITU World Cup to capture not only her first World Cup podium, but first World Cup victory as well. Following a breakaway on the first lap of the bike, Stimpson continued to surge further and further ahead of silver medallist Maria Czesnik (POL) and bronze medallist Paola Diaz (MEX) to win by nearly five minutes.
"It's fantastic," Stimpson said of her win. "The crowd was awesome. The weather was nice and warm. The course was hilly, which made it even better, it makes a proper triathlon. The run was a bit tricky, but made it interesting."
Stimpson led straight from the start, swimming in the pack with Diaz, Diana Castillo (COL), and Militza Rios (PUR) that secured a 30-second advantage as they rounded the first lap on the swim. The group doubled their lead by the end of the swim, transitioning for the infamous bike course nearly a minute in front of a small chase group of six, which included eventual silver medallist Czesnik.
Castillo fell behind when she experienced difficulty in transition, making Diaz, Rios and Stimpson the athletes to chase. Stimpson wasted no time breaking away from the trio on the back half of the first lap and hammered to a 1 minute, 5 second advantage. With no clear chase pack charging on the bike, Diaz and Rios stuck together behind Stimpson. Behind them, Czesnik pedaled ahead of her swim group on the first bike lap to move into fourth.
The Guatape bike course, known for its challenging hills set at altitude, forced the ladies to undergo a unique bike strategy, as almost all the athletes rode solo or in groups no larger than three to four athletes. Stimpson took advantage of the brutal hills to gain an insurmountable lead of 2 minutes, 22 seconds midway through, while Czesnik pulled even with Diaz and Rios to form a small chase group.
Stimpson's first ITU World Cup title appeared even more secure when Diaz took off for the four-lap run in third place, more than five minutes back. Despite her grand lead, Stimpson continued to push the pace on the run, pulling another 30 seconds ahead by the first lap. She slowed only in the final metres to high five the crowd en route to her first ITU World Cup medal and title in 2 hours, 12 minutes and 21 seconds.
"No race is ever easy, especially on a course like this. The course was really hard," Stimpson said. "My coach told me to keep the first half of the bike steady and work the second half. Same on the run just to make sure I could put out a good race. The second half of the run felt really good. I've been working with my new coach, and I think it's working."
Czesnik was next to cross over for silver in 2:17:15, while Diaz took bronze in 2:20:42.
Elite Men's Review
Mexico's Cristanto Grajales timed his final lap surge to perfection as he ran away with his first career ITU World Cup title in Guatape today, while leading a gold-silver sweep for Mexico. His teammate Sergio Sarmiento out-sprinted U.S. Olympian Manuel Huerta down the finish chute for silver. It was the first World Cup podium for both Huerta and Sarmiento.
The men's race saw a very different strategy than the women's, with the men working together over the three disciplines to conquer the challenging course.
Irving Perez (MEX) was the first leader of the day, smoking the chase pack by 26 seconds with a strategy to swim outside the group for a more direct line to the buoys. Perez headed for the hills first, followed by 11 men, including Olympians Leonardo Chacon (CRC), Huerta, and Grajales.
Perez rode solo for the first half of the bike until the chase group reeled in the Mexican shortly after the hairpin 180-degree turn. Colombia's Hernan Rubiano seized the opportunity to charge ten seconds ahead of the then nine-person pack.
Rubiano didn't ride at the helm long, as the group of ten joined to attack the final lap together. Gerado Vergara(GUA) took his turn at the front on the final descent towards transition, but his lead didn't last long as the men headed out on the 10km run.
Huerta and Grajales took off immediately in the four-lap run, surging to the lead. Chacon and Sarmiento were just a step behind them, creating a lead group of four and leaving Arturo Garza (MEX) and Perez behind.
Midway through the run, the trio of Huerta, Grajales and Sarmiento dropped Chacon, zipping a minute ahead of the Costa Rican. Huerta and Grajales ran shoulder to shoulder, with Sarmiento sitting on their hips until Grajales unleashed a brilliant burst of speed on the uphill portion of the final lap to move into the top spot.
Grajales secured enough of an advantage to trot over the finish line, avenging his missed gold last year in a time of 2 hours, 2 minutes and 14 seconds.
"I am very happy. Thank you to everyone who came out to cheer us, and who put on the race," Grajales said. "Last year I was second, so it's great to win this year. It was an incredible race. On the third lap, I realized I had some more left, so I attacked the final lap. And I'm very happy with it."
Behind him, Huerta and Sarmiento battled for silver, but the day went to the Mexicans, as Sarmiento edged Huerta for silver, finishing nine seconds behind Grajales. Huerta garnered his first world cup medal in just few steps behind Sarmiento. But the sprint to the line was not without controversy as the two men appeared to bump into each other just before reaching the finish line. But officials ruled there was no penalty and the results stood. Huerta didn't address the situation in his post-race interview.
"I am very happy with my first podium in a World Cup," Huerta said. "It's one of the toughest races on the circuit."
Huerta's training partner Chacon finished up in fourth place, followed by Garza and Perez in fifth and sixth place respectively, making it four Mexicans in the top six. Ruben Dario Chavez was the first Colombian across the line in seventh place.