Gemmell claims fifth World Cup win in New Zealand 1-2 in Auckland
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Kris Gemmell dedicated an emotional win to everyone affected by cancer, as he banished six months of ordinary results and his own fitness problems to complete a New Zealand golden sweep at home in Auckland today.
After detailing his own struggles with fitness this year at the pre-race press conference, Gemmell revealed in a TV interview that he would be racing two battles in Auckland, one for him and one for a cousin recently diagnosed with a brain tumour.
And after coming out in second place in the swim and putting in the hard work early on one of the toughest ITU bike courses, Gemmell upped the ante with a breakaway from the lead group with ten kilometres to go. Early on it didn’t look like it would work, but eventually it paid off in the best fashion as he claimed his first World Cup win since 2008, and his fifth title overall in 1 hour, 59 minutes and 59 seconds. His compatriot Bevan Docherty ran into silver to make it a Kiwi 1-2 at home in 2:01:06, while Australian Ryan Fisher claimed his first world cup medal with bronze, just 13 seconds after Docherty.
But the race belonged to Gemmell. In the final few hundred metres, he spelled out ‘Tim’ to the TV camera and struggled to put words together afterwards. Docherty added some for him.
“It’s just a magical event. It was such a demanding course and we just dominated out there, everything was under control…it was just a perfect race,” Docherty said. “I’m so happy for Kris, it’s been a tough year for him.”
Before Gemmell added, “I’d just like to thank the public for the atmosphere was amazing out there, I’d just like to say that for all those people out there who have struggled with cancer…. I hope that the show we put on today has done something to help.”
The win gives Gemmell five ITU World Cup wins, which means he is now equal with Docherty. The result is also important for New Zealand’s possible Olympic campaign, with the valuable Olympic qualifying points putting them in a better position to secure three men’s spots in London.
After Andrea Hewitt‘s brilliant win earlier in the day, the New Zealand men were in a good position from the start in Auckland. Slovakia’s Richard Varga led the swim, just as he had done in many races this year and had a 20-second lead on the next group heading out of T1. But behind him were Gemmell, Tom Davison and Tony Dodds and they worked quickly to reel him in on the first lap. That was followed in the next lap by the Docherty-led pack, and a lead group of seven formed with Gemmell, Docherty, Davison, Dodds, Fisher, Varga and Ireland’s Benjamin Shaw.
Then with 10km to go in the 40km leg, Gemmell went off the front. When he couldn’t get much further than 20m ahead it seemed like a cat and mouse game to T2 would ensue, but suddenly Davison bridged up to join him and they flew off the front. Those directly behind them, Docherty, Dodds, Fisher, Shaw and Varga, let them go and in the final two laps of the bike leg, Gemmell and Davison suddenly turned a small advantage into almost a minute lead at the start of the run. From there, while Docherty and Fisher gained slightly on him in the first two laps. While Davison dropped, Gemmell found a second wind and cruised to the win.
The battle for top-10 spots, just like in the women’s race, turned out to be thrilling as the No.1 ranked Laurent Vidal (FRA) smashed through the field on the run to finish fourth. Vidal’s run split of 31 minutes and 58 seconds was the only sub 32-minute split of the day, while Jarrod Shoemaker (USA), Ivan Rana (ESP), Clark Ellice (NZL), Ryan Sissons (NZL), Marek Jaskolka (POL) and Fabio Carvalho (BRA) also ran themselves through the field to round out the top ten.
She was the woman to beat the final ITU World Cup event in 2011 and New Zealand's Andrea Hewitt didn't disappoint at home, as she stormed to her third consecutive major race win in Auckland today.04:45 - 20 Nov, 2011