2 Apr 2017

Disappointment for Hewitt; third for Sissons

6:05 pm on 2 April 2017

New Zealand's top triathlete Andrea Hewitt has finished a disappointing 20th in the triathlon world cup even in New Plymouth, but fellow New Zealanders Ryan Sissons finished third in the men's competition.

American Katie Zaferes won the women's event for the second successive time while South African Richard Murray completed a hatrick in the men's competition.

In damp conditions Zaferes showed too much strength to kick clear of a large group of runners over the final few hundred metres.

Women's winner Katie Zaferes of the USA.

Women's winner Katie Zaferes of the USA. Photo: Scott Taylor/ITU

Despite coming into the race with a slight concern over an ankle injury, Murray, 28, emerged at the front of the pack early on the run, and from that point was never headed.

Murray held off impressive young American Matt McElroy and local Ryan Sissons, who had the large crowd roaring their delight as he sprinted to the line and the bronze medal after finishing an agonizing fourth last year.

Ryan Sisson was the best performed of the New Zealanders finishing third.

Ryan Sisson was the best performed of the New Zealanders finishing third. Photo: Scott Taylor/ITU

Murray was delighted with the win, albeit a little surprised given the concern he had over his ankle coming in to the race.

"I think at the start of the day if you said that I would 'threepeat', I would say 'not possible'. I was the last one running into the swim, I had to go real slow and was a bit cautious but then had a good swim, out on the outside," he said.

"I then ran in my trainers to look after my ankle, as they are a heavier shoe but I had never pulled them on before and I spent about 10 or 12 seconds in transition watching everyone run away, normally I am quick but this time I was a bit slow today."

Men's winner Richard Murray of South Africa.

Men's winner Richard Murray of South Africa. Photo: Scott Taylor/ITU

Murray said conditions made it interesting.

"It was maybe the wettest I have seen here, I pulled my glasses on but couldn't see with the spray."

Zaferes was in a tight tussle with a large group once on the run, eventually going clear of Joanna Brown (Canada) who won her first World Cup medal and Claire Michel (Belgium).

"I do love it here, that was my last World Cup race here in 2014," said Zaferes.

"I was nervous, couldn't catch a breath before the race but I am normally like that so just told myself to calm down. I love wetsuit swims but also enjoy the cold, so I took some confidence from the decision not to have wetsuits knowing that it might be a little chilly and conditions might not be perfect - I tend to do a little better in those conditions."

There were a few minor crashes in the slippery conditions, but Zaferes was safe near the front of the field throughout.

"Everyone was pushing from the beginning and it was a constant strong ride all the way through, that was great practice for me as I don't tend to do well with tactics or technically on course and today I wanted to nail that and be in the right place. Every time someone went down at the back, you are thankful you are in that right place, I was just very happy at how I executed it today."

Hewitt struggled with the cold during the swim and was not able to close the gap to the lead group on the bike, despite bravely riding solo early on.

"Next week (Gold Coast World Series) didn't go through my head at all, I pushed as hard as I could but just didn't have the legs to do so, my muscles felt frozen. It was great for the other Kiwis to be up in the lead bunch, but today just wasn't my day."

Of the other medalists, there is no doubt that Sissons was the most popular, the Kiwi was devastated last year to miss the podium by the barest of margins and was not going to let that happen again.

"I had to work for it, I didn't have a great swim, but felt really good on the bike and worked as hard as I could and managed to pull the gap in, there weren't many working but I managed to get a few guys to pull some turns.

"On the run I felt comfortable the whole way, there were a few surges and with 500m to go I thought, this is it. I was fourth last year in a sprint and really didn't want to get fourth again. I am really stoked to come away with third and a good start to the season, I am looking forward to building on it from here on."

International ITU World Cup Triathlon Results.

Elite Women

1 Katie Zaferes, USA, 59:28

2 Joanna Brown, CAN, 59:29

3 Claire Michel, BEL, 59:30

New Zealanders:

11 Sophie Corbidge, NZL, 1:00:29

13 Nicole van der Kaay, NZL, 1:00:35

17 Elise Salt, NZL, 1:01:07

20 Andrea Hewitt, NZL, 1:02:03

29 Deb Lynch, NZL, 1:05:24

Elite Men

1 Richard Murray, SAF, 54:37

2 Matt Mcelroy, USA, 54:43

3 Ryan Sissons, NZL, 54:46

New Zealanders:

7 Tayler Reid, NZL, 55:14

12 Dan Hoy, NZL 55:31

15 Trent Thorpe, NZL, 55:45

19 Liam Ward, NZL, 56:32

25 Trent Dodds, NZL, 57:27

29 Hayden Wilde, NZL, 58:41

30 Kyle Smith, NZL, 59:28