Glorious sunshine and pristine beaches packed with spectators welcomed participants to the first ever ITU Huelva World Cup, where two newcomers finished on top of the podium. Czech Republic’s Vendula Frintova winning the women’s race by a comfortable margin over the rest of the field.
A calm, collected approach from Czech Republic’s Vendula Frintova at the first Huelva ITU World Cup paid huge dividends on Sunday morning as she won gold by an impressive 36-second margin over Canada’s Joanna Brown in a time of 2:01:14. The USA’s Chelsea Burns finished in third, narrowly beating Japan’s Yuko Takahashi to the line thanks to a blistering final flourish.
It was a beautiful morning on Huelva beach as the athletes lined up on the sands for two laps of the swimming course, the calm water offering excellent conditions for the start of the race. It was Yuko Takahashi who again played to her strengths in the water, establishing a halfway lead that she then extended, delivering the only sub 19-minute swim to emerge in front of a ten-strong pack of cyclists that included Spain’s Sara Perez and Italian Ilaria Zane alongside Burns and Brown.
The coastal scenery changed dramatically as the city drew into view, Frintova adapting brilliantly to attack the tight turns and thrive through the technical section, with Mexico’s Cecilia Perez with USA’s Lindsey Jerdonek also staying in touch with the leaders through the climbs and cobbles that followed the highway’s more straightforward challenges. As the Czech extended her lead to over 20 seconds, Burns and Brown both struggled with the second transition, and Frintova was ruthless with the opportunity that was presented her.
Indeed, it was only the USA’s Chelsea Sodaro who managed to outpace Frintova in the run, Joanna Brown comfortably going through the gears to make her way back into second but the gap to the leader never looked under threat. As Takahashi tired, Chelsea Burns sensed an opportunity to take advantage, securing a podium finish thanks to a stirring final lap under the Spanish sun, 50 seconds behind the winner. Fellow American Renee Tomlin and Italy’s Annamaria Mazzetti finished fifth and sixth.
But there can be no doubt that the morning belonged to Czech Republic’s Vendula Frintova. Having worked her way into contention from the chasing pack of cyclists, her technique was flawless in the final stages of the bike, and the impressive composure she was able to maintain having taken the lead made her an impossible target to catch through the streets of Huelva.