Simon De Cuyper takes debut ITU World Cup in Huatulco

06 May 2012

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Simon de Cuyper of Belgium takes his first World Cup win

While the high temperatures for the women were punishing, the men battled through even more intense conditions in Huatulco at the 2012 ITU Triathlon World Cup. With a start time close to high noon, the men dove into 28.6 degree Celsius water and ran under the sun at its strongest.

Like the ebbing water at the swim start, the full moon also seemed to have a tidal affect on the men’s race, as each leg brought in a new wave of leaders. In the end, Simon De Cuyper (BEL), Ryan Sissons (NZL) and Danylo Sapunov (UKR) stood atop the podium.

In the beginning, Aurelien Raphael (FRA) exited the water in front with Richard Varga (SVK), to blaze through the first lap of the bike, which gained him a 31-second lead. However, his pace decreased over the next two laps, allowing Joshua Amberger (AUS), Ryan Bailie (AUS) and Andrew Yorke (CAN) to join him.

Meanwhile, Sapunov followed a minute behind at the front of the first chase pack. De Cuyper and Sissons were even further behind, sitting in a second chase group nearly two minutes behind the leaders.

“In the first lap I felt very bad,” De Cuyper said of his run. “I thought, ‘Lets get water and cool down.’ Once I was fresh, I had some good feeling in my legs. I thought I could push and catch some of the athletes. I came back and suddenly I was in first position.”

Led by a monstrous break away from Tyler Butterfield (BER) midway through the bike, the two chase groups united to tackle the treacherous course together. Up ahead, the four leading men, steadily maintained their distance of more than 45 seconds into the final transition.

Similar to the women’s race, the second transition was a pivotal point in the leader board for the men. Yorke bolted out in front of the lead group, but a hungry chase pack was out for vengeance by the time they rolled into T2 to rack their bikes. Led by Spain’s Ivan Rana, the men wasted no time hammering out a speedy pace.

Yorke, who had previously never placed in the top 20 at a World Cup, blazed through the first two laps seemingly unaffected by the soaring temperatures. Sapunov was also quickly covering ground, pulling within 35 seconds and two places of Yorke on just the first lap of the run. Trailing another 20 seconds behind were De Cuyper and Sissons, patiently waiting to make their move.

Their chance came in the third lap when De Cuyper surged to the front, surpassing 13 men including Yorke and Sapunov. Sissons, who had De Cuyper in sight, didn’t miss a beat. He quickened his pace to follow the Belgian over the finish line.

“I knew it was going to be about survival and that it’d come down to the last five kilometers,” Sissons said of his strategy. “I spoke to a guy who did this race a few years ago and he said, ‘Just be patient and wait’. That’s essentially what I did.”

De Cuyper captured gold in 2 hours 2 minutes and 34 seconds, while Sissons took second in 2:02.50. Sapunov finished up with bronze in 2:02:54.

Butterfield just missed the podium, finishing in fourth place while Carlos Quinchara highlighted a successful day for the ITU development team with a top-5 finish.  After leading for the early part of the run, Yorke finished up in sixth place.

Earlier in the weekend, the future Canadian, American, and Mexican professionals of triathlon also raced, competing in the 2012 Huatulco PATCO Triathlon Junior North American Championships. The youth battled to qualify for Junior Pan American Games later this year, at which they can qualify for Junior World Championships.

Mexico enjoyed a successful day, claiming all three medals. Eduardo Moreno stopped the clock first at 59:03. Behind him was Juan Jose Lopez just one second later in 59:04. Compatriot Fabian Villanueva stole bronze in 59:22.