Spain’s Javier Gomez did the expected Sunday; Geneva’s own Ben Kanute made an unexpected splash in downtown Chicago.
Gomez, the world’s top triathlete, easily won the International Triathlon Union World Triathlon Series event in 1 hour, 47 minutes, 21 seconds.
But Sunday belonged to Kanute. The 21-year-old, a graduate of Marmion Academy in Aurora, led the swim section (18:59) and was near the front through the bike ride.
“I just have to get that final leg,’’ said Kanute, who was 43rd (1:54:29).
He certainly has the swim down, as befits an all-state swimmer at Marmion.
“I took control midway through the second lap,’’’ said Kanute, who graduated the University of Arizona in May.
He has the background with 2008 and 2010 USA Triathlon Junior Elite national titles and as a five-time USA Triathlon All-America selection.
Gomez made his victory dramatic at the end, walking through the finish, then falling on his back — red uniform against blue carpeting — in celebration.
He seized the race at his moment.
“It was the tough part, maybe around [six kilometers], and we were all really tired at that point,’’ Gomez said. “I saw I had a 1.5-meter gap with Mario [Mola] and I guessed he was struggling, so I said, ‘Let’s go.’ ’’
Mola ended up third (1:47:40), when he was passed by Portugal’s Joao Pereira for second (1:47:29).
Heat was a fact — 92 degrees at the start — but it had an effect on everybody, Gomez noted.
“We were a bit more conservative at the beginning of the run,’’ he said. “The first lap was not really fast. We were all a bit scared. After the first lap, I started to feel a bit better and I knew everyone was struggling, so I had to make my move and try.’’
As to the chop on Monroe Harbor, off shore toward Lake Michigan, on strong west winds, neither Kanute nor Gomez thought it was much of a factor.
“It was not as choppy as yesterday,’’ Gomez said.
The course was centered in downtown Chicago. The 1,500-meter swim portion was two laps east of Buckingham Fountain in Monroe Harbor, eight laps of bike riding for 38.1 kilometers on South Columbus and East Jackson, and ending with a 10-kilometer run. The finish was south of Buckingham Fountain.
The visual highlights were Chicago-centric with the transition areas on the east side of Buckingham Fountain and the bike and run laps circling the fountain. For the sprint from Monroe Harbor to Buckingham Fountain, race staffers stretched blue carpeting across Lake Shore Drive for the triathletes.
NOTE: On Saturday, United States Olympian Gwen Jorgensen won an unprecedented sixth ITU World Triathlon Series victory with a time of 1:55:33, beating Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins by 20 seconds.