Images: Janos M Schmidt/World Triathlon

By Kent Gray/
Watch out when Janus Staufenberg finally nails a decent swim at World Triathlon level.

The Dunedin-based Wanaka 23-year-old led home the trio of Kiwi males at World Cup Miyazaki on Saturday but his 14th placing in Japan was most definitely a race of two halves. Or, more pertinently, a first-third shocker.

Staufenberg was 53rd out of 60 departing the water, leaving the Otago Medical School student to play catch-up for the remainder of the sprint distance (750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run) race.

He did just that, powering to the 10th fastest bike split (28:03) to bridge the gap to the pace-setting peloton of 11 up the road before cranking out a ninth-best 5km split of 15.24. Staufenberg eventually finished 66 seconds adrift of Italian winner Gianluca Pozzatti in 54:17 with Saxon Morgan 17th in 54:20 and Dylan McCullough 28th in 54:48.

Staufenberg had hoped to kick on from his 11th placing at World Cup Huatulco in Mexico in early July and by winning the NZ 10km road race title last month proved that he had speed in his legs. Unfortunately, the turbulent swim and an uncooperative chasing pack on the bike meant he burnt a lot of fuel before he could even pull on his kicks.

RELATED: Goodisson savours ‘epic’ 7th, Thornbury equally ‘stoked’ with 11th at World Cup Miyazaki  

“Overall not quite the race I was after but happy with the second half of the race,” Staufenberg told

“I’m happy with how I ran but paid for the work I did on the bike on the second lap of the run. I put in quite a bit of work as many people in my bunch were just sitting in for the ride which was frustrating.

“I just need to figure out how to get this swim right and then things might start to fall in place.”

The swim, in fairness, was not easy with the men’s course shortened by 10 metres after the women, including Eva Goodisson (7th) and Staufenberg’s partner, Olivia Thornbury (11th), had taken a white water battering earlier on Saturday. The swells were still ripping into the bay, sending spray over the harbour’s huge breakwater walls, when the men took the klaxon.

“Rough day in the water for me today, got quite the smashing round the buoys so left me playing catch up from there.

“The swell was pretty crazy with them changing the swim course last minute as one of the buoys was at the break line. Starting nn the right side of the pontoon was a disadvantage but I wasn’t as far as Dylan so can’t say that it affected me too much.”

Staufenberg will get the chance to right Saturday’s swim wrongs next month when lines up with Thornbury at Asian Cup Ipoh on November 26. While it is a level below being a Continental Cup, the race in Malaysia is all about gaining experience and points to get more World Cup starts in 2023.

The next assignment for McCullough and Saxon is the World Triathlon Championship Series grand final in Abu Dhabi (Nov. 24-26) where both will line-up in the U-23 category.

For McCullough, Saturday’s race in Japan was his first since breaking his right elbow after a breakout 7th placing at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

“It was good to blow out the cobwebs and very happy to be back racing after what hasn’t been the easiest last two months,” McCullough said.

“The elbow felt great and the fitness was there, however a few costly mistakes were made, especially with my starting position which put me on the back foot.

“Looking back, choosing to start the swim on the far right I was unhappy with, as the last-minute change to the swim course meant it was the furthest line to swim by far. I then had to use a lot more petrol to get myself back into the race. So a good lesson learnt for next time.

“I know what went wrong, what went well and now I can put today behind me and focus on what’s ahead.”

Gianluca Pozzatti

World Cup Miyazaki Results (With NZ splits)

Elite Men (740m*/20km/5km)
1.Gianluca Pozzatti (ITA) 53:11
2. Alberto Gonzalez Garcia (ESP) 53:17
3. Ricardo Batista (POR) 53:18
14th – Janus Staufenberg (NZL) 54:17 – S: 09:28 (53rd fastest). B: 28:03 (10th). R: 15:24 (9th)
17th – Saxon Morgan (NZL) 54:20 – S: 9:01 (18th ). B: 28:35 (43rd). R: 15:29 (11th)
28th – Dylan McCullough (NZL) 54:48 – S: 09:11 (27th). B: 28:17 (26th). R: 15:58 (30th)
*Course shortened due to swim conditions

Elite Women (750m/20km/5km)
1. Alberte Kjaer Pedersen (DEN)  1:00:43
Ilaria Zane (ITA) 1:00:55
 Olivia Mathias (GBR) 1:00:56
7th – Eva Goodison (NZL) 1:01:05 ­– 
S: 11:06 (13th fastest). B: 31:09 (7th). R: 17.22 (8th)
11th – Olivia Thornbury (NZL) 1:01:25 – S: 11:04 (8th). B: 31:11 (10th). R: 17:41 (14th)

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