Gomez, Norden top Los Angeles | stanton-company.com

Gomez, Norden top Los Angeles

Two ITU World Championship silver medalists proved their bike skills could adapt well to the classic non-drafting format as Javier Gomez of Spain and Lisa Norden of Sweden won hard-fought elite battles at the 10th edition of the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Triathlon Sunday.

Gomez, the 2008 ITU World Champion and 2007 and 2009 ITU World Championship silver medalist, came back from a 30-second deficit after the bike and a slow first mile of the run to pass three-time Toyota Cup series champion Greg Bennett, the Czech Republic’s veteran ITU star Filip Ospaly and a surprisingly tenacious Stuart Hayes by the 7k m ark and hit the finish in 1:50:17. Gomez’s margin of victory was 10 seconds over Hayes after the Spaniard’s second-best 31:00 10k run.

“It was completely different from ITU (draft-legal) racing,” said Gomez, who raced on a time trial version of the Cervelo P3 and posted a 5th-fastest 56:51 split. . “My legs felt so much heavier than they do in drafting races.”

Norden overcame a 50-second deficit to American Sarah Haskins after rugged swim in Victory at Sea conditions at Venice B each, then held the 22-year-old Swiss prodigy Daniela Ryf and two-time XTerra World Champion Julie Dibens to a draw on the bike before nailing down the victory with a fourth-best 35:46 run. Haskins, after finishing fourth at the ITU World Championship Series finale on the Gold Coast, came back from a late fade on the bike with the day’s third-fastest run to overtake Daniela Ryf for second place, 67-seconds back of Norden.

“Today I did well to ride with Daniela (Ryf) who was really pushing the pace,” said Norden, who added that after her epic duel with Emma Moffatt at the ITU World Championship finale on the Gold Coast, she recovered well and came to the US stronger than ever. “After Gold Coast, I rested up then had two really good training weeks there. My coach Darren Smith had us do a lot of tough uphills which made me ready for this course.”

The women

Haskins might have won this race if she hadn’t had a bad patch late in the bike. Haskins emerged from the swim just 16 seconds back of super-swimmer Hayley Peirsol and 50 seconds ahead of Norden and Dibens. Haskins led the bike for about 10 miles, then hit a two-wheeled wall. “That last turnaround on the bike (at the 15-mile mark) I really started hurting,” said Haskins. “Those three girls (Norden, Ryf and Dibens and Nicola Spirig) were so strong. It shows how ITU racing has changed and is filled with the world’s strongest women cyclists. So I came off the bike a minute down.”

Haskins Then started moving hard on the run, taking down Dibens (38:04 run) and Ryf (37:18 run) at Mile 4. “I felt really great on the run,” said Haskins. “I can’t complain about 2nd – there were so many good women competitors here.”

Haskins did get a touch of satisfaction in beating a long-time friendly rival. Haskins’ 2:01:27 finish topped 7th place Helen Jenkins of Great Britain by 4 minutes, 28 seconds. Jenkins beat Haskins in a race-long duel for the gold at the 2008 ITU World Championship and ran down Haskins near the end for the final spot on podium of the World Championship Series finale last month on the Gold Coast.

Young Swiss star Daniela Ryf, the 22-year-old who finished 6th at the Gold Coast and 4th in the World Championship series, out-biked fellow Swiss Nicola Spirig and
was happy with her third place finish against the strongest non-drafting women’s field of the year. “I am thinking maybe 3 is my lucky number,” said Ryf, who took third place at the Washington DC round of the World Championship series. “I thought after that bike I’d be really tired, but I was surprised how strong I felt on the run,” said Ryf. “‘This bike (with its long 500-foot climb from sea level to downtown LA) was real demanding. and very important.”

Dibens had no regrets for her 4th place finish – the only time she has finished worse than second this year. “These girls are awesome athletes,” said Dibens. “I knew I could not hold them off on the run so I tried to break away on the bike. But they biked really well.”

With all due respect to 2009 ITU World Champion Emma Moffatt, Dibens paid a big compliment to Norden. “I think Lisa is now the best all-around Olympic distance triathlete in the world.”

With her sights set on defending her two straight Xterra World Championships later this month and cracking the Ironman 70.3 World Championship podium in November, Dibens was happy with her LA finish. “I just came off a big block of training and I’m happy with 4th.”

The men

A fast-rising swell, a choppy, wind-whipped ocean and a swift current created a little havoc on the swim. Even though the elite men swimmers approached the beach from all directions, 13 men emerged from the cauldron within 20 seconds — Paulo Miyasiro 20:31), Stephen Hackett (20:35), Greg Bennett and Paul Matthews (20:37), Marc Jenkins (20:38), Javier Gomez (20:39), Filip Ospaly (20:40), Leonardo Chacon (20:42), Eric Limkemann (20:44), Fabio Carvalho and Michael Raelert (20:44) Graham O’Grady (20:45) and Stuart Hayes (20:51).

The bike didn’t break up the contenders much, with nine men — Gomez, Hayes, Ospaly, Bennett, Carvalho, Stephen Hackett, Chris Foster, Ben Collins, Sebastian Kienle, and Andrew Starykowicz posting 56-minute bike splits.

Bennett, still thrashed after his Ironman 70.3 win at Augusta Georgia last weekend, put his chips all in near the end of the bike and arrived in T2 25 seconds up. “I got misdirected at T2 and lost the 25 seconds I’d worked so hard to get,” said Bennett. “But I was still worn out, I had no strength and my bike was weak, so I still would have finished 4th anyway.”

Bennett, who just recovered from a painful encounter with a car that hit him on a training ride after his win at the New York stop on the Toyota Series Championship, was philosophical at his 3-1-4 finishes that puts him significant points down to Matt Reed (1-3-1 finishes at Minneapolis, New York and Chicago) going into the series finale next weekend in Dallas. “Frankly, I’m happy to just be back racing after the crash,” said the three-time Toyota Series Champion. I would have liked to have done better, but there were three good guys in front of me today.”

Gomez had the prime credentials going into this race, but he did not have a cakewalk and had to precisely allocate his energy. “The bike took a lot out of you, so I knew I had to drop off the pace near the end of the bike to save some energy for the run,” said Gomez. “After such a big effort on the bike, you have to start slower. But the leaders were not so far ahead, so I had time to find my pace in the beginning.”

While Gomez outran all his closest rivals, Redondo Beach, California super runner Chris Foster topped the winner’s run with an impressive race-best 30:09 to finish 8th.

Stuart Hayes, who finished second at LA last year, was very satisfied with a second to the great Gomez. “For a moment, I was outrunning Javier and thought I might have a chance,” said Hayes. “But that guy’s a freak who can do ITU and non drafting races without missing a beat. When I’ve raced him in ITU races, he’s always had a strong bike, so I wasn’t surprised. Right now I’m in the best shape of my life, so to come that close to Javier was really good.”

Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Triathlon
Los Angeles, California
October 4, 2009
S 1.5k/ B 40k/ R 10k

Elite Results

Men

1. Javier Gomez (ESP) 1:50:17
2. Stuart Hayes (GBR) 1:50:27
3. Filip Ospaly (CZE) 1:50:42
4. Greg Bennett (AUS) 1:51:03
5. Fabio Carvalho (BRA) 1:52:33
6. Michael Raelert (GER) 1:53:07
7. Stephen Hackett (AUS) 1:53:15
8. Chris Foster (USA) 1:53:36
9. Ben Collins (USA) 1:53:47
10. Leonardo Chacon (CRC) 1:54:32

Women

1. Lisa Norden (SWE) 2:00:20
2. Sarah Haskins (USA) 2:01:27
3. Daniela Ryf (SUI) 2:01:54
4. Julie Dibens (GBR) 2:02:49
5. Nicola Spirig (SUI) 2:04:31
6. Liz Blatchford (GBR) 2:04:45
7. Helen Jenkins (GBR) 2:05:55
8. Mary Beth Ellis (USA) 2:06:32
9. Nicole Hofer (USA) 2:08:26
10. Jodie Stimpson (GBR) 2:08:45

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Posted on: October 4, 2009