Grajales takes Toronto Pan Ams in sprint finish
Mexico can now start prepping for Rio as Crisanto Grajales has earned the country a qualifying spot after his breakthrough performance and victory at the 2015 Toronto Pan American Games on Sunday. Leaving it all down to a sprint finish, Grajales moved past five competitors in order to claim his first Pan Am title.
The win for Grajales meant a great deal for the country of Mexico on the weekend. Claiming two spots on the podium today, along with the silver medal from Paola Diaz in the women’s race, Mexico tallied the most triathlon medals.
“I’m very happy. This win is for my whole country. I’m proud to be Mexican and to represent my country. This for all of the people that support us from around the world, but really all of those in Mexico. I was really motivated after Paula raced and I’m just really very happy and thankful for everyone that supports me,” said Grajales.
Sunny skies and a light breeze filled the Ontario Place West Channel. With the official water temperature hitting 20.2 degrees celsius just before the start, the men’s race was treated to a no wetsuit swim to start the day.
500 metres into the swim, the men strung out a single file line that stayed put until the end of the first leg. Perez stayed at the forefront, leading the line right up the ramp and into the first transition. Canadian Tyler Mislawchuk managed to stay right on his heels and gave himself a strong start to the bike.
But in the cycle, Eric Lagerstrom (USA) and Martin Bedirian (ARG) had a slight advantage after lap one to lead three small chase groups that followed closely behind. But the advantage would not last as all packs merged to form a 25-strong lead pack that remained constant until the bell lap. Among the large pack was Lagerstrom’s compatriot Hunter Kemper and Brazil’s Reinaldo Colucci. Lagerstrom proved he was impressive in the transition zone and was able to be the first one out onto the pavement.
Jason Wilson of Barbados had a standout race and dominated the first three laps of the run. He broke away right out of the gate and maintained a substantial lead for the majority of the last leg. On his tail was Andrew Yorke (CAN) who stayed only 15 kilometres short of Wilson up until the bell.
A small clan consisting of Grajales, Perez, McDowell and Luciano Taccone (ARG) followed in the third position, but kept back in an effort to save energy until the finish.
Clear that a strategic move was coming, both Mexicans Grajales and Perez along with McDowell pushed together in the last lap to move past Wilson and Yorke. Wilson finished the day fifth, but showcased a strong and phenomenal race.
Leaving it all down to the blue carpet, Grajales and McDowell sped up and left it all down to the sprint finish, where ultimately Grajales earned the finish line. McDowell crossed at 1:48:59, just one second behind Grajales. Perez came in shortly after, finishing at 1:49:05.
Perez said, “The last two Games I missed out. It took a lot of work to get here. I’ve changed some things in my training now and my diet that has made me lighter now. So I’m really proud and happy to have been on the podium. In two weeks, we will go to the Test Event in Rio and from there, we will continue fighting and on the journey towards the Olympics.”