Triathlon win weekend
By MITCHELL DALE
UP until last Thursday, Cronulla triathlete Craig Alexander wasn't going to make the trek to Coffs Harbour to compete for the National sprint title on Sunday.
When Alexander clapped on the pace at the halfway mark of the run leg, his challengers were probably wishing he had stayed home.
Alexander was among the leading cluster during the swim and cycle legs before breaking clear with Canberra pair Simon Thompson and Levi Maxwell in the run.
At the halfway mark of the run, Alexander made his move.
Maxwell went with Alexander initially to open up a 10m break from Thompson but a second surge by Alexander soon after was enough to burst clear.
"I could hear Thommo breathing but Levi seemed to be doing it easily," Alexander said. "I had a bit of rhythm so I slowly picked up the pace and got rid of Thommo at about the two-three kilometre mark, but Levi still seemed comfortable."
Alexander, who completed the 26.25km swim-cycle-run in one hour one minute and six seconds, stopped short of saying he was surprised to shed Maxwell with his second surge.
"I don't mean to sound flippant, but I have been successful using that tactic in the past and I kept trying to do that," he said.
"But it was great to win today.
"I knew it was going to be tough, I just tried to race to my own strengths."
Thompson made a late charge to pass Maxwell and claim silver but couldn't bridge the gap opened by Alexander, crossing the line 14 seconds behind the winner.
Alexander, who is ranked the number one in the world over the half ironman distance and owns two Australian long-course titles, has long been a bridesmaid in the sprint.
"To be quite honest, I hadn't planned to race here, I only entered on Thursday," he said.
"I have been training for a lot of races later on in the year and I've worked more on my endurance and strength than speed.
"I have never won a sprint title before, so this is very nice.
"I have a silver and a couple of bronzes, but I've never won.
"My mother is from Coffs and I won here when it was the Banana Coast Triathlon in 2001 and 2002, but obviously it wasn't as big as this."
In the women's elite sprint, American Barb Lindquist started her retirement tour in style, holding off a bold challenge from young gun Felicity Abram to win in 1:09:48.
Lindquist led Abram by 70 seconds after the bike leg, but the young Queenslander closed the margin to just 23 seconds by the finish. The American was well aware of Abram's challenge.
"Oh, yeah, I could see her, we past at the same point on the bike and I knew I had to be out by at least a minute because I knew she was a good runner," Lindquist said. "I knew she could make up one minute in a 5km run."
The victory was Lindquist's second from as many visits to Coffs Harbour, but she won't be back for a third time ? saying retirement beckons.
"I am going to start a family, I see all these babies around and I think 'I want one of those'," she said.