Nine Americans in Action in Sydney
April 10, 2011 (Sydney, Australia) – Olympian Laura Bennett opened her season in strong fashion Sunday, placing sixth in the opening event of the 2011 International Triathlon Union World Championship Series to pace a group of nine Americans in action.
Bennett (Boulder, Colo.) covered the Olympic-distance course in 2 hours, 1 minute, 59 seconds to record her fifth consecutive top-10 WCS finish dating to last season.
Always a top swimmer, Bennett led the race out of the water with teammate Sarah Groff (Hanover, N.H.) just five seconds back. After hanging with the lead pack throughout the bike, Bennett quickly asserted herself on the run to join the lead group of six athletes and was in the top position at the 5-kilometer mark of the 10k run. Despite being forced to serve a 15-second penalty on the run, Bennett finished just 38 seconds behind Canada’s Paula Findlay, who captured the women’s title in 2:01:21 in a sprint finish.
In addition to a $4,300 payday for her efforts in Sydney, Bennett – the 2010 USA Triathlon elite national champion – also earned valuable qualifying points for the U.S. for the 2012 London Olympic Games and currently holds the No. 6 spot in the 2011 ITU WCS rankings after one event. She finished the 2010 WCS ranked as the top American and No. 10 overall.
Jillian Petersen (St. Louis, Mo.) placed 20th for her third career top-20 WCS finish in 2:03:30.
The subsequent men’s event was held in rainy conditions with three-time Olympian Hunter Kemper (Colorado Springs, Colo.) finishing as the top American in 1:52:54 for 31st place. Jarrod Shoemaker (Maynard, Mass.) was 43rd in 1:54:14, while Greg Bennett (Boulder, Colo.) took 44th in 1:54:18 in his U.S. debut. A handful of crashes took place on the bike course, and a trio of Americans was among the 13 athletes that did not finish the race.
Spain’s Javier Gomez was the men’s winner in 1:50:22.
The eight-race WCS is a key proving ground for the United States’ top triathletes aiming for a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team. In addition to racing for WCS points, athletes also will be looking to earn points toward securing a spot for their country at the 2012 Olympic Triathlon in London.
Highlights of this year’s World Championship Series schedule include the first qualifier for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team in London on Aug. 6-7 and the Grand Final on the 2008 Olympic course in Beijing on Sept. 10-11.
Sydney Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series
(1,500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run)
1. Paula Findlay (CAN), 2:01:21
2. Barbara Riveros Diaz (CHI), 2:01:23
3. Andrea Hewitt (NZL), 2:01:29
6. Laura Bennett (Boulder, Colo.), 2:01:59
20. Jillian Petersen (St. Louis, Mo.), 2:03:30
DNF Sarah Groff (Hanover, N.H.)
1. Javier Gomez (ESP), 1:50:22
2. Jonathan Brownlee (GBR), 1:50:29
3. Sven Riederer (SUI), 1:50:34
31. Hunter Kemper (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 1:52:54
43. Jarrod Shoemaker (Maynard, Mass.), 1:54:14
44. Greg Bennett (Boulder, Colo.), 1:54:18
DNF Matt Chrabot (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
DNF Kevin Collington (Orlando, Fla.)
DNF Manuel Huetra (Miami, Fla.)