Germany’s Tim Hellwig delivers a powerful performance in the 2023 World Triathlon Cup Chengdu to run away with victory. Mexico’s Aram Michell Peñaflor Moysen is awarded silver after a mighty sprint battle with Azerbaijan’s Rostislav Pevstov who earns a deserving bronze.
A stunning sunrise shone over the Jintang Triathlon Centre, the purpose-built venue for the 2023 World Triathlon Cup Chengdu. 55 of the world’s top triathletes lined up to contest in the standard-distance format and continue their chase for Olympic points and ranking. Germany’s Tim Hellwig led the field of men onto the pontoon start line to commence the race. The air temperature was 19.5 degrees Celsius and the water temperature was 21.8 degrees Celsius, which meant it was a non-wetsuit swim for the athletes. The course featured a 2 lap 1.5km lake swim, 6 lap 40km bike course and finished with a 4 lap 10km run.
Hungary’s Márk Dévay, known for his powerful swim stroke, led the men through the swim smoothly. At the end of lap 1, Devay had 5 seconds on the rest of the field as three groups had strung out behind him. New Zealand’s Dylan McCullough was having a brilliant swim and right on the heels of Devay. Next was Takumi Hojo, Germany’s Tim Hellwig and Jonas Schomburg. USA’s Darr Smith, Japan’s Makoto Odakura, Great Britain’s Sam Dickinson and Mexico’s Irving Perez who were in the group following the front 2 men, with only 15 seconds separating the 10 men behind Devay.
Through the second swim lap, Devay and McCullough had opened up a gap on the field and Hojo was trying his best to spearhead the chasers towards the leading men.
Devay and McCullough had a sizeable lead on the men’s field in Chengdu as they entered transition and moved through onto the bike course. A cluster of 27 men were trailing the leaders including Japan’s Ren Sato onto the 40km bike course, which featured a number of winding turns and corners to navigate.
The Hungarian and New Zealander had an 18-second advantage over the rest of the athletes as they left transition, but the likes of Dickinson and Smith were among the men driving the chase group and attempting everything possible to reel in the leaders and close down the gap. Both Pertl brothers, renowned for their powerful cycling ability, were in the chase group. It wasn’t long and the chase group caught the leading duo to become a massive train of men riding together.
Lasse Nygaard Priester, one of the top contenders leading into today’s race, was 2 minutes adrift after a disappointing start to the race in China.
Out on lap 3 Japan’s Ren Sato attempted a break for half a lap, 8 seconds ahead of the tight and congested group of 28 men, but was harnessed back in by the end of the lap.
Coming out of the dead turns on the bike course in Chengdu, athletes were trying to pull away but the tight group continued to grip back together. Australia’s Luke Willian and Ireland’s James Edgar were right up there, taking turns in the front seat.
Ireland’s Russell White was applying pressure on the chase group which had already taken 20 seconds out of the leaders and the gap was down to 35 seconds towards the final stages of the bike segment. Australia’s Luke Bate was also in this chase group.
By the final lap of the bike portion of the race, the leading and chase group had now formed one massive gathering.
Priester continued to ride hard in the chase, still 1 minute 20 seconds down on the leaders but making up time as each lap went around.
The massive group began to disburse as the leading group increased the pace. Hellwig, Peñaflor Moysen, Pevtsov, Hungary’s Bence Bicsák, Odakura and Smith exchanged the lead. Schomburg couldn’t keep the pace and was dropped off the back.
In the final kilometre, Hellwig made a decisive move to pull away from the group and mark his attack. None of the men were able to join the German as he injected some serious pace into the field. Hellwig made the final turn and entered the finish chute to take the tape and run away with victory and the gold medal in the 2023 World Triathlon Cup Chengdu.
“To be honest I didn’t feel amazing today, I had to play my cards very carefully so from the beginning of the bike I noticed that extra gear was missing that I had in Pontevedra so I had to be very careful today and I was thinking during the run when to go and I decided to go from the last turnaround and ya just kicked and gave everything until the finish line and I had a look behind on the last turn and saw no one was going with me so ya, pretty satisfied with the result after not feeling too well.
“I had great confidence in my run especially but it was still very mentally tough to get firing again and to go extra hard after this emotional high in Pontevedra so it was pretty tough today, the competition made it tough but I’m super happy I could take another win today.
“There were three guys in front I think after the swim so ya, we tried to close the gap but I noticed right after a couple of metres on the bike that my legs weren’t firing today so the group stayed all together and no one really tried to attack and everyone was waiting for the run and it got a little bit hectic at the end of the bike, I almost crashed on the last lap but could avoid it and the once you get in your running shoes you feel safe again.
“It’s pretty amazing I wasn’t expecting this like on the last kilometre there were so many people cheering and especially here on the finish line so it’s a pretty nice experience here in China, I like it very much,” said gold medallist Hellwig.
Behind the race winner, drama was unleashed as a group of men sprinted for the finish. Peñaflor Moysen was able to find just enough gas to sprint across the line and earn the silver medal in China. Pevtsov, who is no stranger to being on the podium in Chengdu, secured the bronze medal in today’s race. Bicsák and Odakura crossed in fourth and fifth place respectively.
“Well, I’m very happy because at the beginning I didn’t expect anything, I came from the back and the result was just incredible for me. It’s a strong step for qualifying for the Olympics and I am happy with the result and just keep moving,” said silver medallist Peñaflor Moysen.
“Thank you very much, it’s fantastic for me, it’s my 5th podium and now I have a collection of all the medals and I’m super happy, it’s a fantastic city for me,” said bronze medallist Pevtsov.
Related Event: 2023 World Triathlon Cup Chengdu
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