Triathlon winners criticise 'dangerous' bike course
But officials reject claims by victorious Eastern European athletes after Asian Cup event
Eastern European athletes came away with the major spoils from yesterday's Hong Kong ITU Triathlon Asian Cup, but both the men's and the women's winners were critical of the 40-kilometre bike course.
Russia's Vladimir Turbayevskiy won the men's elite event and said after the race the bike course was dangerous, a comment backed up by women's winner Radka Vodickova of the Czech Republic.
Vodickova, 27, who placed second in this event two years ago, said there were no marshals on duty to prevent drafting. Referee Andrew Patrick, however, insisted officials were in place and had in fact blown whistles at a group of women who were thought to be drafting a men's pack.
"As professional triathletes, these people know the rules and they also understand they must make an official complaint within the specified time period if they suspect drafting, and right now they have run out of time to do so," said Patrick.
ITU technical delegate, Raymond Cheah from Malaysia, said the bike course was the same route that was used two years ago and it was considered "technical" but not seen as dangerous.
"The athletes were walked through the course at the briefing last night and were all told the bike course in particular was difficult and very technical, with quite a few tight turns," Cheah said. "We analysed the course for any particular obstacles and found it to be completely satisfactory."
Turbayevskiy, 29, was among the first athletes out of the water and then part of an early breakaway group on the bike section.
When the main pack caught the leaders, the Russian athlete decided to conserve energy for the 10km run - a decision that proved wise given the hot and humid conditions.
"My tactics paid off well today," said Turbayevskiy, who lives near Moscow and is currently the fourth-ranked Olympic distance triathlete in Russia. "The run section is flat and fast and so I started to pick up the pace with 2km to go. I then sprinted the final 100 metres or so."
Australia's Drew Fox was first out of the water and then stuck with the Russian for much of the run, but had no reply when Turbayevskiy launched his assault on the finish line to post a winning time of one hour, 52 minutes and 25 seconds, seven seconds ahead of Fox. Russia's Nikolay Yaroshenko was third in 1:53:27.
Ivan Lo Ching-hin finished the men's race in ninth place as the highest-placed Hong Kong male athlete, and will next week head to the World Triathlon Grand Final in Auckland in confident mood.
"I really enjoyed the race today and I'm very pleased with my result," said Lo, now training with Patrick Kelly, who recently took over as Hong Kong national triathlon coach.
Vodickova, who placed 20th in the London Olympic triathlon, crossed the line in 2:12:35 while Yuliya Yelistratova and Anna Burova, both from Russia, were second and third in 2:14:05 and 2:14:45 respectively. Defending champion Hoi Long of Macau was fifth and Joyce Cheung Ting-yan was Hong Kong's leading female in seventh.