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1998 ITU Triathlon World Championships, Lausanne, Switzerland

98 worlds results            women pros           juniors          AGs            Aussie women
Simon Lessing: defining the ITU champion

Simon Lessing's business-like talent masters Lausanne and the ITU's draft-legal vision of marketable triathlon.

Simon Lessing

Simon Lessing is cool and confident.

Smart money says that Simon Lessing will be one of the first  swimmers out of the water. He is also a savvy biker who knows how to work a pack and conserve energy when needed. Perhaps most important, he is consistently the fastest runner on the circuit, capable of producing a sub 14-minute 5k.  He is arguably the best draft-legal triathlete in the world today.
    Lessing proved that once again August 29 in Lausanne, Switzerland, by producing a calculated race that looked like just another day at work.
    Fourth out of the water Lessing joined a pack of riders gunning for Australia's Craig Walton, 20 seconds ahead and biking with reckless abandon in hopes of staying there. Walton's lead gradually began to erode under advances by the loosely knit pursuit pack until the third lap of the bike when his go-for-broke style sent him careening off course and onto the asphalt. An attempt to reenter the action proved futile and Walton exited the race leaving Lessing, Hamish Carter and a handful of others returning to the center of Lausanne to duke it out in the hills.
    A larger and more disciplined chase pack harboring defending champion Chris McCormack, fellow Australians Greg Bennett, Miles Stewart and New Zealander Paul Amey swallowed up the leaders in the final lap of the bike, once more turning the ITU's championship into a running race.

A running race
   Having positioned himself perfectly for the run, Lessing called upon his greatest asset, his legs, to do their job. Though not first out of the transition, Lessing quickly cruised into a comfortable lead where he could control the outcome of the race, leaving the leftovers for the mortals in the field.
    A surprised Carter watched teammate Amey move away in the final two kilometers and then was stunned as a gritty Stewart dug deep to move past into third. As he made the last turn into the finish chute Carter saw Amey cross the line for a silver medal and then watched Stewart raise his arm to the crowd to announce his unexpected third place finish.
Simon Lessing wins fourth world title

Simon Lessing strolls over the finish.

Paul Amey takes silver

Paul Amey crosses the line with Miles Steward and Hamish Carter in tow.

    "I think we were lucky there were a lot of Australians in the second group [of bikers]," Stewart said after the race. " We were able to work together. I had to do a lot of work on the bike to catch up."
    But there was no way anyone could catch Lessing, who has been training with Olympic-class runners. With casual ease Lessing virtually strolled into the finish. "With the training that I've been doing this year I think I'm capable of running a 13:45 or 14-minute five thousand," said Lessing. He added a fourth title to his list of world wins by finishing in 1:55:30.

The Americans
   The outcome for Wes Hobson's day also rested in the run. Only 20 seconds behind the eventual winners after the swim, Hobson logged a strong bike with the main chase pack and returned to the transition with the leaders. However, his 35:10 10k was no match for Lessing's 31:14 or the 32s turned in by the rest of the top ten. He finished his day 4:02 out in 23rd place.

    Ryan Bolton, struggling with a one-minute deficit following the swim, fell well behind the lead bikers. Still, his 33 minute run pulled him to within four seconds of Hobson for a 24th place finish. Jimmy Riccitello was also frustrated by the swim and crossed the finish in 2:00:26 as the third American. Other US athletes: Marcel Vifian 35th, Abe Rogers 61st, Andy Kelsey 67th.AG



Wes Hobson runs for the top American finish.

Top American Wes Hobson
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King Rules as Queen of Worlds

Aussie women rule as a hard-working US fights to two top tens and a team second.

It was no surprise that Barb Lindquist exited the chilly water of Lac Leman a minute before the rest of the field. And it was no surprise when  she was quickly gobbled up by  a small chase pack consisting of the likes of Michellie Jones, Loretta Harrop and Isabelle Mouthon. But few predicted the surprises that were rolling along with that pack of lead riders.
    For starters, two Americans, Gail Laurence and Susan Bartholomew, joined Lindquist with the front riders. Working together, they would help pull the US  to two top-ten finishes and a second in the overall team competition.

P98WWBike03c.jpg (14473 bytes) . Barb Lindquist and Gail Laurence pull the lead pack over the cobblestone and out of the 17 percent narrows in old Lausanne.
     But the biggest surprise would come from two riders lurking back in the pack-- Australian Joanne King, racing for the first time as a pro at world championships, and New Zealander Evelyn Williamson,  racing in her third world event. The two were preparing  personal bests to steal a piece of the stage from the race favorites.
   One of those favorites, defending champion Emma Carney--struggling since early season with an energy-sapping virus--fell out of touch with the leaders during the swim and then fell victim to a broken cable on the bike. The woman who dominated triathlon in '97 would once more watch her competition climb onto the podium in '98.

Into the run
   Bartholomew was the first off her bike   into the run transition, but Jones quickly took charge of the group as it left Stade de Vidy and headed out along Avenue de Rhodanie toward the 3k turn around at the Olympic Museum. The run consisted of one 6k loop followed by two 2k loops. The runners would pass through the finish area twice before making a final return up the finish chute.

   King soon settled in with Jones and the two began to pace themselves away from the field.  As the pair passed the 5k mark, King was beginning to pressure Jones; she got serious as they started the last loop. Fearing Jones would out sprint her if they ran into the last 100 meters together, King pulled away, opening up a half-minute gap over the final two kilometers. She finished in 2:07:25, nearly 38 seconds ahead of her teammate.
    "I was really hoping for a good race," King said after her victory. "Top five was something I've dreamed of. Finishing first was a dream come true." The new champion said the bike was a challenge and she was unable to take a turn pulling the lead  group through the hills. "Luckily the run was a flat run. I tend to do well on the flat runs. I can get myself into a bit of a routine. At the last ITU race I raced Michellie and we ran together until the last sprint finish. I knew if it had to come to that it was going to be pretty close so I was hoping that I'd be able to drop her before a sprint finish."
Joanne King pressures Michelle Jones

Joanne King pressures Michelle Jones into the 5k mark on the run.

   That's just what Williamson was doing with Harrop and Mouton. While King was making her move on Jones, Williamson was adding to her lead in the battle for third place. No one was more surprised than Williamson when she crossed the finish to earn her bronze. One of the first things she did following the race was to find a cellular phone and call home. "Yeah mum, I did good," she told her mother. "I came third!"

Toughing it out for a team 2nd
   Meanwhile, Lindquist and Bartholomew were fighting to stay ahead of Belgium's Suys Mieke and Switzerland's Natascha Badmann. Mieke and Badmann had been playing catch up since the swim and were capitalizing on the run to gain ground on the Americans.  The US duo had already watched Jackie Gallagher overtake them with a run split second only to King's, but the finish line appeared in time to net Lindquist a seventh place finish with Bartholomew 15 seconds behind in eighth.
    Lindquist, the top swimmer in the field and a solid rider,  needed a good run.  "That's something that I really wanted for this race, was just to feel good on the run," she said after crossing the line. "The bike was obviously a little easier than usual because we had a pack. Usually it's just two of us, and so I think that gave me the opportunity to have a good run."
    Lindquist's run will need to improve for her to rise in the ranks.  "I'm definitely going back to Australia to do the Formula One this winter, and then just hopefully continue to build my run. I still need to work on my technique and I also just need to get more miles in and work on my speed.

   "I have to say that my teammates in the group, the bike pack, did a lot of work, I was really impressed with how they rode. They pulled a lot in that group to get the lead. I'm just happy the US team is second place overall."
     Siri Lindley, having to struggle through much of the hilly bike course without help, contributed to that second place finish by toughing it out into 15th while Laurence, after pulling through much of the ride just missed a top-20 finish and ended the day in 21st place. Jill Newman finished 45th.
    USAT champion Jennifer Gutierrez watched the air go out of her race-day hopes when she suffered a flat tire on the last tour of the four-loop bike course.

Susan Bartholomew guides the lead pack into the run transition.

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98 worlds results         women pros        men pros        AGs         Aussie women
Australians, Brits Heirs to the Thrones
The juniors from down under and their cousins to the north claim nine of the top 10 men's and women's slots.

Failing to place a junior male was the only sad spot for the Australians last year in Perth. In Lausanne, it looked like the boys from down under would take first and second, that is until Brit Tim Don ran away from the field in 32:57.
     Don's time of 1:59:09 was 0:37 ahead of Bryce Quirk and 0:42 in front of Levi Maxwell, both Australians. Stuart Hayes, Great Britain, was less than a second behind Maxwell and another Aussie, Courtney Atkinson, rounded out the top five.
     The British needed a defection to place in the junior women's race. With Australian Nicole Hackett taking the junior title for the second year in a row in 2:13:17 and teammate Rebekah Keat placing second, Britain pulled off a third with Beth Thomson--who placed second racing for Australia last year. Another Australian, Melanie Mitchell was fourth. Only Swiss junior Nicola Spirig's fifth place finish prevented the British and Australians from sweeping the top-five.

Tim Don, top junior

Tim Don anchored his Junior win with a 32:56.6 run.

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Brian Fleischmann contemplates the physical and emotional pain of worlds.

The American juniors
      Severe tendonitis brought Brian Fleischmann limping across the finish in 29th place and put him in a cast after the race. The top American junior blamed a painful run on new running shoes and too much walking about Lausanne.
     Fleischmann left the water within reach of the lead group and hung in with the pack for most of the bike. "I was having a good ride," he said. "I just wanted to be in the pack the whole time. I sat in a lot. I didn't do too much work. I definitely have to work on cornering and turning, but I caught back up fairly well."
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American junior women wait for the start of their swim.

     Although last into the transition off the main pack, Fleischmann was still within reach of a top-15 finish before he was reeled in by his injury. "I was having a good first half of the run then my ankle just started getting to me real bad," he explained. Fleischmann finished in 2:06:15.
     Fleischmann, who won USAT Junior Nationals in Clermont, Florida, foresees a winter of work. "I'm going to run cross country for FSU and get back on the bike in the winter and hopefully improve, definitely on the bike, and the swim too."
     Bryan Rother, second to Fleischmann in Clermont, finished as the second American in Lausanne in 31st place. Nicholas Cady was the third American junior male.
     Sara Brinkley was the top American junior woman in 26th place with a time of 2:26:54. Courtney Benningson crossed the line 1:16 later and Suzy McCullock appeared 16 seconds after Benningson.
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