David Cantero delights the Spanish crowds with a superb win in Valencia
Spain has a new golden boy. Only 20 years old, David Cantero produced an outstanding sprint on the blue carpet, cheered by thousands of spectators, to claim his first-ever World Cup victory in Valencia, his hometown. Inches behind him, Germany’s Lasse Nygaard-Priester, while the bronze medal was for another athlete making his debut on the World Cup podiums, Michele Sarzilla (ITA).
Fifty men lined up this Saturday in Valencia ready for a challenging Standard distance course -1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run- on a flat and technical course that looked like a perfect fit for the fast runners on the field. But first things first, it was once again Hungary’s superb swimmer Mark Devay leading the field on the two laps non wetsuit swim, opening a gap from the beginning with only Connor Bentley (GBR) and Kevin Tarek Vinuelas (ESP) able to follow him.
By the time the men put their feet on the ground, the three leaders had 12 seconds of a gap, enough to allow them to leave the first transition by themselves. The Spaniard had some issues right after jumping on his bike, and he was caught by the chase group, losing almost 20 seconds in the first lap. The second chase group, led by Spaniards David Cantero and Antonio Serrat Seoane, still had the leaders on sight, and was trying to get organised before losing too much time.
By the third lap out of eight, Bentley and Devay were already part of the lead group, with Cantero and Serrat on the chase group 34 seconds behind. Two laps later, they all merged on a big group that managed to keep on for the rest of the bike course safely, to make it as a large train that hit the second transition altogether.
Cantero and Serrat didn’t want to leave things for the last minute and hit hard as soon as they had their running shoes on, followed by Lasse Nygaard-Priester, Cameron Main (GBR), Nicola Azzano (ITA) and Michele Sarzilla.
The six of them run shoulder to shoulder for the first 5km, but the legs felt too heavy for Serrat Seoane first, Azzano a bit later. And with one lap to go, it was all to be decided among Nygaard-Priester, Cantero, Sarzilla and Main, who seemed to be surprisingly comfortable with the lead pack despite being his first appearance among the leaders at a World Cup level. But experience is a degree, and the young Brit was the first one to be dropped, followed by Sarzilla.
The battle for gold was meant to be epic, with Nygaard-Priester and Cantero teasing each other in the last kilometer, the Spaniard cheered by thousands of spectators rooting for their local hero. Cantero, only 20 years old, managed to stay with the German when they both hit together the blue carpet, and managed to find an extra gear in the last meters to produce a superb sprint finish and claim the first World Cup victory of his career. “I am super, super happy with my performance today. That’s for my coach, my family and my friends. This has had a lot of time of hard work and today it was reflected. Today I think I did the perfect tactic, I was in the first group in the swim and then I was in the first group on the run and I knew I could do a really good performance but never imagined I could win a World Cup,” he said.
Silver on the day was for Nygaard-Priester, one step better than his bronze medal at the Weihai World Cup last week. ““The last kilometre was tough, I almost couldn’t get my breath. It was an amazing crowd and atmosphere, I came a little short but I was happy for David and the home crowd. It was a good week, also tough with travelling, I am happy, getting used to racing, some top racing. I had some small goals today, especially in the run and it was one of my best 10km runs so I am happy with that,” he explained.
Bronze was for Sarzilla, also a career best for the Italian, who had never been on a World Cup podium before. “It was amazing. I am 35 years old, racing against these kids it’s really tough. It’s amazing to see that I can still improve. It’s third place and I can still get better. I am really pleased. I saved some energy for the run. We pushed through the last kilometres and then I was empty. I am happy anyway,” he said.
On a day of career firsts, Nicola Azzano finished in fourth place, while Cameron Main delivered an impressive beat your bib number performance to round up the top 5 wearing bib number 49. Sixth place was for Norway’s Casper Stornes, who outsprinted Serrat Seoane in the last meters, while Brent Demarest (USA) finished in the 8th place.