Mooloolaba, Australia (March 24, 2012) - Frenchman Laurent Vidal claimed his first ITU World Cup win with an electrifying sprint in Mooloolaba, pipping reigning champion Brad Kahlefeldt and another Frenchman, David Hauss, in a three-way sprint to the line in the first major event of the 2012 season.
In the final of four 2.5km laps in Mooloolaba, it came to a lead group of five, Australia's Brendan Sexton was the first to lose touch with the leaders leaving Mario Mola, Vidal, Hauss and Kahlefeldt. It all came down to the final finishing chute, and Vidal said his strategy to save some energy for the final 400m had paid off.
Vidal then dedicated his debut win to his adopted home of Christchurch and the people of New Zealand.
"I work half of the year with the Kiwis, I live in Christchurch for half the year with Andrea (Hewitt), my girlfriend, we've had some devastation with the earthquake so I'm happy today to give them (the people of Christchurch) a little bit of this victory because I'm 49 per-cent Kiwi, I'm not ashamed to say that, it's large part of my life," he said. "It's the Kiwi attitude, keep on smiling, it's great, everything is fine and hopefully Andrea has a good one tomorrow."
Kahlefeldt's second place meant he missed out on securing three straight Mooloolaba wins by just a second, but he did claim his sixth Australian national championship. It was Hauss' second consecutive podium in Mooloolaba, he also claimed bronze last year, and he attracted plenty of attention in a standard issue suit after his racing suit was lost en route to Australia.
The men's race had plenty of excitement from the start, Australia's James Seear lead the one-lap 1.5km ocean swim and was first out of T1, but most of the main contenders were in a large group of 25 that formed on the first lap. Within two laps a chase pack being led by Brendan Sexton bridged to the main pack, and then a second chase pack being led by Chris McCormack also caught the leaders, and that number in the lead ballooned to over 40. While there was a few attempts at a breakaway, none stuck until the final lap when Ryosuke Yamamoto, Bryce McMaster, James Seear and Jack Hickey jumped and had a small lead of 20 seconds leaving T2.
While the eventual top four started about 30 seconds back, they quickly reeled those in front in and from the halfway point it looked like the winners would come from a group of eight that also included Germany's Sebastian Rank and Steffen Justus, and Great Britain's William Clarke. But in the end it came down to an all out sprint for the line, Vidal made his move with 400m to go. With an impressive kick, he not only stayed ahead of Kahlefeldt and Hauss, but pulled away in the final 100m metres to secure the win and keep up France's impressive World Cup streak. Other French athletes to claim career first World Cup wins in the last six months include Jessica Harrison, Carole Peon and Etienne Diemunsch.
In the Olympic qualification battle, Mola's fourth-placed finish was a positive for Spain's attempt as they try to secure three places on the start-line for the men's race, Germany's two-top 10 results will help their campaign, while Kyle Jones top-10 finish should ensure Canada will move into the eighth spot on the simulation list - ahead of Russia - and for now, will have three places on the men's startling in London.
Mooloolaba ITU Triathlon World Cup - 24 March 2012
Final Results - Elite Men - 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run
1. Laurent Vidal FRA 01:53:22
2. Brad Kahlefeldt AUS 01:53:22
3. David Hauss FRA 01:53:22
4. Mario Mola ESP 01:53:28
5. Brendan Sexton AUS 01:53:37
6. Steffen Justus GER 01:53:52
7. Sebastian Rank GER 01:53:55
8. Kyle Jones CAN 01:54:09
9. William Clarke GBR 01:54:16
10. Maik Petzold GER 01:54:20
Photo Credit: Delly Car/ITU