MOOLOOLABA, Australia -- Following a challenging 2012 season, former Aptos resident Matt Chrabot returned to form Saturday with a stellar runner-up performance at the Mooloolaba ITU Triathlon World Cup.
Chrabot, a Virginia native, raced to his first World Cup podium finish since 2011 with a time of 1 hour, 54 minutes, 53 seconds on the 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike, 10-kilometer run course.
London Olympic Games silver medalist Javier Gomez of Spain earned the win in 1:54:32. Chrabot outlasted Australia's Peter Kerr, who was third in 1:54:55, for second.
"I haven't been on the podium since 2011. I got real sick last year; I just had some thyroid issues and I didn't make the Olympic Team," said Chrabot, an Olympic alternate who spent his 2011-12 camptaign training alongside three-time Olympian Bevan Docherty, of New Zealand, in Santa Cruz. "But I started training under Darren Smith and down in Canberra, ... so Australia has been my home for the past three months, and I just totally blew away my expectations."
The second-place effort marked Chrabot's fifth career ITU World Cup podium finish and first since his 2011 win in Huatulco, Mexico.
"For right now, this is the best result I've ever had, especially being this time of the year," said Chrabot, who has been focusing on his run training. "I'm so stoked right now."
Saturday's race was a consistent effort for Chrabot, who was eighth out of the water in 19:06. After a handful of breakaway efforts on the bike, Great Britain's Stuart Hayes and New Zealand's Mike Phillips carried a 45-second lead into T2 on the chase pack, which included Chrabot.
Once on the run, Chrabot and Kerr engaged in thrilling chase for the podium, dropping Ireland's Bryan Keane on the final lap before Chrabot made his move to secure silver. He finished with a 33:02 10k run split -- good for third on the day.
The lone American in the field Saturday, Chrabot plans to return to action at the April 6-7 Barfoot & Thompson World Triathlon Auckland, the opener of the 2013 ITU World Triathlon Series.
ZAFERES TOP AMERICAN AT PAN-AM CUP
Santa Cruz's Tommy Zaferes led the way for the Americans on Saturday, earning second place in a sprint to the finish at the inaugural Sarasota ITU Triathlon Pan American Cup at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, Fla.
Zaferes was edged out in the last 200 meters of the 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike, 10-kilometer run course to finish second in 1 hour, 44 minutes, 35 seconds. Joao Pereira of Portugal took the tape in 1:44:33, and Miguel Arraiolos, also of Portugal, rounded out the podium with a time of 1:45:08.
Just one week after competing at the Clermont ITU Sprint Triathlon Pan America Cup, Zaferes and Luke Farkas (Colorado Springs, Colo.) were two-three out of the water, trailing Canadian Andrew McCartney, who had a 13-second advantage. The three athletes formed the lead pack before McCartney broke away, and Zaferes and Farkas were caught by the chase group, which included Joe Maloy (Wildwood Crest, N.J.), Brian Fleishmann (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Eric Lagerstrom (Gresham, Ore.).
Entering T2, a lead pack of six, including Zaferes and Maloy, had stacked up a near 2-minute lead on the chase pack. Zaferes and eventual winner Pereira ran away from the chasers. Heading into the final lap, they were 20 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. In the final 200 meters, the pair sprinted to the finish and Pereira out-kicked Zaferes at the line for the win.
Zaferes' second-place finish is his best result on the ITU circuit since he finished second at the Myrtle Beach ITU Triathlon Pan American Cup in 2011.
In the women's race, Canada's Paula Findlay won in 1:57:51. Carolina Routier of Spain was second with a time of 1:58:12, and Vendula Frintova from the Czech Republic logged a time of 1:58:44 to finish third.
Mooloolaba ITU World Cup
Men's Top 10
(1,500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run)
1. Javier Gomez (ESP), 1:54:32
2. Matt Chrabot (Virginia Beach, Va.), 1:54:53
3. Peter Kerr (AUS), 1:54:55
4. Bryan Keane (IRL), 1:55:02
5. Ryan Bailie (AUS), 1:55:20
6. Clark Ellice (NZL), 1:55:23
7. Tony Moulai (FRA), 1:55:48
8. Stuart Hayes (GBR), 1:56:19
9. Nick Kastelein (AUS), 1:56:30
10. Simon De Cuyper (BEL), 1:56:38