By Brian Homewood
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - Asafa Powell took advantage of Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay's absence to run the fastest 100 meters this year at the Diamond League meeting in Lausanne on Thursday.
David Rudisha, who twice broke the world record in the 800 meters last season, bounced back from injury with a win in his first big race of the season and Frenchman Teddy Tamgho upstaged Phillips Idowu in the triple jump.
Powell outclassed the rest of the field as he charged out of the blocks to win in 9.78 seconds, one hundredth of a second better than Gay's time in Florida earlier this month, and send a warning to his rivals for the world championships in August.
Fellow Jamaican Michael Frater finished a further 0.10 seconds behind while European champion Christoph Lemaitre recovered from a poor start to finish third in blustery and almost chilly conditions.
Lemaitre, seen as a possible challenger to the North American and Jamaican dominance of the event, did not do enough to trouble Powell although he equaled the French record with his time of 9.95 seconds.
Gay was ruled out through injury while world and Olympic champion Bolt missed the event.
Powell held the world record for three years between 2005 and 2008 but has never won an individual gold in the world championships or Olympics and is hoping to break his duck at the worlds in South Korea.
"The weather wasn't perfect. It was a good race, a bit cold," said Powell.
"I managed to push my way through. Anything below 9.8 is really good. And it's only the second race of the season so the future can only get better as they season progresses.
"My goal is to keep training and run faster."
Rudisha, in only his second race since returning from an ankle injury, had no trouble as he won the 800 meters in one minute 44.15 seconds.
The 22-year-old Kenyan, last season's revelation, burst clear at the halfway mark although he eased up near the end and was well short of his world record time of 1:41.01.
"I felt good in the race, I had a good kick in the first 300 meters and felt strong afterwards," said Rudisha.
World champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi of South Africa was a modest eighth.
Frenchman Tamgho, who has emerged as a major challenger to world and European champion Idowu, produced one of the biggest cheers of the night with his huge third leap of 17.91 in the triple jump.
Idowu, competing for the first time since a public split with British athletics officials, could only manage 17.52 in reply.
Double world champion and Olympic silver medalist Blanka Vlasic complained of the cold and problems with her knee and ankle as the Croat finished sixth in the women's high jump with 1.90 meters.
Anna Chicherova of Russia won with 1.95 meters.
Olympic silver medalist Sally Pearson won the women's 100 meters hurdles in 12.47 seconds, holding off Danielle Carruthers of the United States who was one hundredth of a second behind.
Olympic and world champion Andreas Thorkildsen won the men's javelin with a throw of 88.19, the Norwegian's best mark of the season.
Olympic champion Dayron Robles won the men's 110 meters hurdles in 13.12 seconds, edging Dwight Thomas by four hundredths of a second with Jason Richardson a further hundredth back in third.
"I was worried by my bad knee but everything went well," said Robles.
(Editing by Justin Palmer)