Blummenfelt blasts to first World Cup title
At the first-ever Italian World Cup, set on the scenic coastline of Cagliari, Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) clocked his first World Cup win with a powerful effort on the bike and run. Behind him, France reigned supreme as Aurelien Raphael and Simon Viain secured the two final podium positions over a sprint-distance course.
Blummenfelt has been steadily climbing the rankings since announcing himself as an athlete to watch after going off the front of the bike with two men at the 2014 Edmonton Grand Final. While the break didn’t lead to a win there, Blummenfelt once again powered his way to the front of the pack on the bike on Sunday, which this time proved a victorious move in a race that was critical in Olympic qualification for the 65-man field.
Raphael, true to his signature strength, set the tone for the day with a blistering swim in rough water. Italy’s own Alessandro Fabian, along with Norway’s Jorgen Gundersen gunned out of the first transition, in hopes of a three-man breakaway. But the trio couldn’t muster up the speed fast enough to hold off a hungry field.
Blummenfelt blasted up the tough bike course, which saw the men climb 100 metres over just 2.5km on each of the four laps for a total of 18km. Tucked behind him were Marco Van Der Stel (NED) and Stefan Zachaeus (LUX), along with a string of men ready for the attack.
By midway through the bike, 10 men were riding together including Blummenfelt, Fabian, Viain, Raphael, Zachaeus, Gundersen, Gustav Iden (NOR), Tom Richard (FRA), David Castro Fajardo (ESP) and Tamas Toth (HUN).
The bell lap on the bike proved a pivotal tactical moment, as Blummenfelt led a six-man break including Zachaeus, Viain, Richard, and Raphael. From there, Blummenfelt kept his moment down the hill, off the bike, and onto the flat-three lap 5km run.
Raphael and Viain attempted to go with the Norwegian, but by the first lap he already had a 10-second lead that would eventual morph into a 20-second gap for the win. Raphael, in nearly a line to line lead performance on Sunday, charged through the final run lap for second, while Viain claimed his first World Cup podium with bronze.
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