TRIATHLON: Javier Gomez sent an ominous warning to his ITU World Triathlon Series rivals yesterday when he described his impressive victory in the season-opening World Cup event at Mooloolaba as a training run.
While the 29-year-old Spaniard holds the Olympic-distance race in high regard - making his fifth appearance on the Coast - he is clearly focusing on the upcoming 2013 World Triathlon Series.
He went into yesterday's race in the middle of a heavy training block and vulnerable to a host of challengers. Class prevailed, how-ever, and the London Olympics silver medallist escaped the field 3km into the hilly run leg to win in a time of 1:54.32.
Gomez beat American Matt Chrabot by 21 seconds, with rapidly rising Australian Peter Kerr another two seconds back.
Gomez's win despite his less-than-ideal preparation is a daunting sign for his 2013 adversaries.
"I knew it was going to be a tough race. I felt okay and luckily it was enough for me to win," he said. "I'm feeling quite good and consistent, but I didn't taper for this race.
"I am training quite hard at Noosa (so) this was only a training race. I am preparing more for the (first) World Triathlon Series race in Auckland (on April 6), which is going to be a big one."
THE in-form Kerr could only shake his head at the performance of Gomez, who is taking the sport by storm, along with Great Britain's Brownlee brothers, Jonathon and Alistair.
"He is part of that trio which is head and shoulders above," Kerr said. "He's currently in a hard training block and he still took us out by a good margin."
Kerr said Gomez's presence alone was enough to affect competitors.
"It changes the dynamics because I guess everyone (else) is a bit timid," he said.
"I guess the trick is to not be scared of those guys. You have to respect them no less, because they are absolutely pure class, but the trick is not to be scared of them.
"They are athletes with two arms and two legs.
"It's going to take hard work to try and get to their level, but I really think we've got to start to try and push, Australian competitors as a group, and try to bridge that gap to them."
Kerr, who turned his flailing career around with victory at the Noosa Triathlon last year, admitted he was riding a wave of confidence.
"It's no secret that my attitude has changed towards races," he said.
"I have a genuine belief that I can try and perform at an ability that is at the top level. I'm not there yet, but I'm trying my best."
Kerr's result at Mooloolaba is his best at an ITU level.
Slovakian Richard Garcia and Australian Ben Shaw took a healthy lead during the 1.5km swim leg yesterday, but they were swallowed up on the 40km bike leg and Great Britain's Stuart Hayes claimed a narrow lead into the run leg.
From there, Gomez made his move and surged to the front 3km into the 10km run home.
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