A flat tire fuelled Lionel Sanders of Windsor, Ont. to become an elite champion in the ITU Long Course World Championship Sunday in Penticton.
“I think it’s going to feel amazing once I get to reflect on it,” said Sanders, who who dreamt of this for eight years and pocketed $10,000 USD for his win. “I worked real hard for this. I feel like I paid my dues. This particular one was probably one of the hardest I’ve ever done as well. As it should be. It’s been a fantastic experience.”
Sanders crossed the finish line in five hours 20 minutes and 36 seconds. He was 10th coming out of the water and trailed Australia’s Joshua Amberger by nearly three full minutes on the bike. His run time was eight minutes faster than the Aussie.
“I was pissed off as all hell because I got a damn flat tire on the bike,” he said at the finish line, adding there wasn’t support, adding it took him four minutes to change his flat.
Sanders was about two minutes behind leader Joshua Amberger from Australia when he had the flat tire with about 40 kilometres left of the 120-km ride.
“I was running off of pure anger and you can do a lot of things when you’re pissed off,” he said, adding “I’m damn lucky I brought a flat kit (with a laugh).”
Sanders managed to pass Amberger who was the leader in the swim and bike at about the 23-km mark of the 30-km run. Sanders said he had what is likely the best run of his life, finishing the 30-km distance in 1:45:34.
Amberger came in second to earn $8,000 when he clocked in at 5:22:09. He was followed in by fellow Aussie Joe Gambles, who took third, for $6,000, coming in 5:26:23.
Penticton’s Jeff Symonds finished eighth overall, which was a respectable finish for the local pro who has had a tough year. He clocked in at 5:37:08 and picked up $1,200.
“I wasn’t where I wanted to be, it wasn’t a good swim, but I just hung in there, but yeah it was good,” said Symonds, who talked about his tough times. “To have a top eight in the world coming off all that, I’m pretty stoked. This is going to set me up well for down the road.
“I had to scrap for every little inch,” said Symonds, who credited those close to him for giving him a boost.
Surrey native and Vancouver resident Nathan Killam finished 10th overall in 5:43:46.
Defending champ Sylvain Sudrie of France finished fifth overall. It took him 1:57:44 to finish the run, giving him a total time of 5:29:49.
Sweden’s Sebastian Norberg was disqualified, while France’s Cyril Viennot did not finish following a crash on his bike, Pablo Dapena Gonzalez, pulled out after the bike. Germany’s Julian Buechert and American Ben Collins also did not finish after the bike.
Australia’s Sarah Crowley captured her first world championship in 5:51:23 after having a tough start. She started behind the pack after falling over at the of the swim.
“I fell over. A couple of the girls got away,” she said after finishing the gruelling race.
Crowley was able to recover at the back end of the 120-km bike and the run “went smoothly.” She finished the run distance in 1:55:37.
“It’s a little unbelievable. It was pretty cool. I didn’t expect that result,” said Crowley, who will celebrate by visiting Monument Valley on the Arizona-Utah border and going to Las Vegas with a training friend.
Placing second was Denmark’s Helle Frederiksen, finishing in 5:55:04. Kelowna’s Heather Wurtele got Canada on the podium, taking bronze in 5:55:51.
“I would really like to be on the top step one of these days, but you know I just fought all day and really gave it all I had. Sarah just had a phenomenal performance. Kudos to her. We both were really strong on the bikes sort of taking turns at the front riding strong. Just sort of ran out of real estate.”
Vancouver’s Rachel McBride took sixth overall in 6:07:24, while Penticton’s Jen Annett was eighth, in 6:10:44.
“I wished I placed a little better,” said Annett, who grew up in Kelowna. “The run hurt. The run always hurts. It was a tough field. I did the best I could do and that’s all that matters.”
Annett, who completed the run in 2:09:40, said “that was a crazy women’s field.”
“Probably the toughest I have ever competed in,” she continued. “All I could do is put it all out there and hope for the best.”
Fellow Canadians Karen Thibodeau and Melanie McQuaid did not finish.
The Multisport Festival 2018 will be held in Denmark on the island of Fyn.