12 Jul 2009

Gemmell ninth in Austria

5:46 am on 12 July 2009

Young British star Alistair Brownlee won his third ITU World Championship Series triathlon at Kitzbuhel in Austria and in the process moved to the top of the world rankings while the New Zealanders struggled in wet and cool conditions.

Kris Gemmell was the best New3 Zealander finishing ninth, a result he 'toughed out' despite a crash and suffering in the cold. Bevan Docherty also took a heavy fall late in the bike leg and finished 27th.

It was to prove a frustrating race for the New Zealanders on a cold and wet day that didn't favour the smaller framed athletes. The swim was largely uneventful with a lead group of about a dozen emerging with a 30 second gap early on the bike with the Kiwis all in the chase group.

However the technical nature of the course and light rain slowed the lead group, allowing the entire field to form one large bunch on lap two of eight, with Gemmell, Docherty, Clark Ellice and Dylan McNeice in touch with the leaders.

The conditions quickly proved treacherous with a number of crashes on the tight and undulating course, including the one involving Gemmell. This allowed a group of three to break clear, with Sven Reiderer (SUI), Paul Tichelaar (CAN) and Bruno Pais (POR) quickly opening up a 30 second lead on a big chase group. Only Reiderer was to be caught, with Maik Petzold joining the breakaway late in the 40km.

All of the hard work for Docherty was however undone when he crashed heavily on the last lap, while in sight of the transition area and right in the mix with the chasers. The Taupo triathlete was up and on his bike in a flash but his chain had come off and in the time it took to dismount and fix, the pack had ridden a minute down the road.