Hewitt and Vidal too strong in Wanaka triathlon

NATHAN BURDON IN WANAKA
Last updated 21:46 20/01/2012

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New Zealand's Andrea Hewitt and her French boyfriend Laurent Vidal proved too strong in Wanaka tonight, taking out the women's and men's triathlon events in the lakeside town.

Coming back down from the New Zealand high performance teams altitude camp at nearby Snow Farm in the Cardrona Valley, Hewitt belied her tired legs to outsprint Dutch competitor Rachel Klamer.

The pair were part of a four-woman breakaway on the bike which included fellow New Zealander Debbie Tanner and Holland's Danne Boterenbrood.

After opting to swim without goggles Hewitt said she found the swim extremely difficult with a strong onshore wind pushing up significant swells on Lake Wanaka and she had issues picking out the bouy.

Despite that the London Olympic-bound Hewitt looked comfortable on the bike and then was able to fend off Klamer up the finishing chute after Klamer had worked hard to catch her on the run, with Tanner third overall.

The men's race featured a big breakaway of riders which included the strong New Zealand trio of Wanaka local Tony Dodds, Kris Gemmell and Ryan Sissons.

Vidal, the world number four, was able to sit out of the wind on the ride after Dodds, who had again persuaded local businesses to bump the prize money up close to $10,000 to ensure a quality field, lead out of the water and then through the transition into the run.

To the delight of a big crowd on the Lake Wanaka waterfront, Dodds led the race through the town on the first lap.

Heading into the final lap, however, the Frenchman had opened up a 20m lead which he was able to hold until the finish, with Sissons second and Dodds third.

Vidal, who counts himself 49 percent New Zealander, said the prize money from his and Hewitt's wins would come in handy for the Christchurch-based pair in the wake of the Canterbury earthquakes.

Southland's Robert Huisman was also part of the leading bunch on the bike, while fellow Southlander Troy McAlister was only just behind throughout the bike leg despite competing against the elite men for the first time at this level.

A 20-strong contingent of Southland junior triathletes were prominent in the 3:9:3 race earlier in the afternoon with Invercargill's Liam Cullen, 13, winning the men's race and Waikaka's Will Sutherland finishing second overall and first in the future stars category.

Winton's Laura Robson was second in the girls future stars section.

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- Fairfax Media

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