Ishigaki, Japan (April 14, 2013) - Japan's Ai Ueda and Australia's Ryan Fisher both claimed breakthrough ITU World Cup wins in Japan on Sunday. In the 18th consecutive year of the ITU World Cup event on this Japanese island, Ueda claimed her first World Cup gold ahead of team mates Yuka Sato and Juri Ide, making it a clean sweep of the podium for the home nation. In the men's race, it was Fisher's first World Cup win, with Ireland's Bryan Keane claiming silver from Australia's Dan Wilson, both posting their best performances this year.
Although wet conditions plagued the women's race on Sunday, that didn't stop a strong Japanese team from sweeping the podium in front of a home crowd. Olympian Ai Ueda blasted through the three-lap run course to claim her first World Cup title since 2010, followed by rising star Yuka Sato and Juri Ide.
"This is my eighth time challenging the triathlon here and being able to win this time, I think I might have been able to give a lot of people courage and inspiration, and I'm very happy to be able to do that," Ueda said.
Sato wasted no time putting her strong swim skills on display as she headed up the field on the first swim lap, followed by Italy's Gaia Peron and Emma Jackson (AUS). Peron took over on the second lap, and together the pair enjoyed a small break as they headed to transition.
However, their lead was short lived with slick roads forcing Peron and Sato to slow, allowing Ide to bring the chase group within seconds of the leaders on the first lap. The powerful Japanese women, including Ide, Sato, Ueda and Yuko Takahashi then worked together to push the pace of the lead group early in the bike.
Despite suffering a crash midway through the bike, Ide made a massive effort to keep herself in podium contingency, rejoining the group within a lap. The Japanese led the bell lap, while the group lengthened out to hit the run within 10 seconds of each other.
A quick transition saw Takahashi head out first, quickly followed by Sato and Adachi. But it was Ueda who showed what a class runner she is, rocketing to a 17-second break after 2.5km.
Ueda held strong throughout the run, continuing to surge further and further out front. She sailed down the finish chute with nobody in sight for the win in two hours, five minutes and 47 seconds. Sato followed her teammate over the line next in 2:06:23 for her highest World Cup finish ever, while Ide took bronze in 2:06:52.
"Because I was able to go for it right from the swimming, I feel like I was able to have a good result," Sato said. "Obviously with the bridge and ups and downs, it's a very tough course. But because I was able to put myself into the running at the end I think I was able (to finish well)."
Ishigaki ITU Triathlon World Cup - 14 April 2013
Final Results - Elite Women - 1.5km swim, 42km bike, 10km run
NAME SURNAME NATIONALITY TOTAL TIME
1 Ai Ueda JPN 02:05:47
2 Yuka Sato JPN 02:06:23
3 Juri Ide JPN 02:06:52
4 Yuko Takahashi JPN 02:07:22
5 Charlotte Bonin ITA 02:08:00
6 Kiyomi Niwata JPN 02:08:16
7 Mariko Adachi JPN 02:08:28
8 Anel Stewart RSA 02:09:38
9 Emma Jackson AUS 02:10:11
10 Gaia Peron ITA 02:11:18
The Men's race
Wet weather conditions couldn't keep Ryan Fisher (AUS) from storming to his first ever World Cup title in Ishigaki with a monster performance on the bike and run courses. The rising star capitalized on a breakaway with fellow countryman Dan Wilson on the bike before he attacked on the run to claim his first major ITU title.
"I'm absolutely stoked. I came here in 2011, it was my first ever World Cup, so to come back here two years later and win is pretty cool," Fisher said. "Winning any race is good but to come here and win at a World Cup like this, and it's my first one, so it's a huge confidence booster and first real race of the season."
Bryan Keane (IRL), survived a spill on the bike to clock the fourth fastest run split of the day to grab silver. After going into the run in prime podium position, Dan Wilson (AUS) held strong for bronze.
The men's competition got off to a congested start, with Wilson leading a 15-man group out of the water within 14 seconds of each other. Korea's Jung Min Park and Min Ho Heo were right on his feet, followed by Fisher.
Early on the bike, the men split into three groups, with 12 leaders out front on the first lap. However, athletes dropped quickly, with the group dwindling down to 11 by the first lap and the chase group 30 seconds back.
Pre-race top contenders Fisher, Keane, Tony Dodds (NZL) and Yuichi Hosoda (JPN) led, making it a challenge for the chase group to bridge up. After a crash forced Dodds and Ju Seok Kim out of the race, Wilson, Keane and Fisher took advantage of the the situation and established a breakaway on the third lap.
By the fifth lap, the leading trio increased their lead to 50 seconds before Fisher and Wilson again took advantage after Keane crashed, losing him valuable time. The Irishman was then left to ride on his own for the final laps, frantically working hard to bridge the gap to the Aussies, but still held nearly two minutes over the third group. By the time the Aussies hammered for the run course, they owned more than a minute lead.
With his sights set on gold, Fisher stormed through the first 2.5km and never looked back extending his lead to over a minute for an easy victory in the end. He became the seventh Aussie to win the World Cup, doing so in a time of hour, 52 minutes and 46 seconds.
Behind Fisher, Keane labored to decrease the gap between himself and Wilson, pulling even with the Aussie with just two kilometers to go. In a last-ditch effort, Keane overtook Wilson in the final stretch to earn silver in 1:53:50. Wilson earned bronze in 1:54:02.
Ishigaki ITU Triathlon World Cup - 14 April 2013
Final Results - Elite Mens - 1.5km swim, 42km bike, 10km run
ATHLETE FIRST ATHLETE LAST NATIONALITY TOTAL TIME
1 Ryan Fisher AUS 01:52:46
2 Bryan Keane IRL 01:53:50
3 Dan Wilson AUS 01:54:02
4 Grégory Rouault FRA 01:54:31
5 Ivan Ivanov UKR 01:54:46
6 Ryosuke Yamamoto JPN 01:54:57
7 Nick Kastelein AUS 01:55:25
8 Yuichi Hosoda JPN 01:55:50
9 Hirokatsu Tayama JPN 01:56:16
10 Min Ho Heo KOR 01:56:21