The sun shines on Eton Dorney
The first of what will be two UK-based pro races supported by the Professional Triathletes Organisation, took place on Sunday at the London 2021 Rowing venue of Eton Dorney – home to more than a few triathlons in its life – the Dorney Triathlon.
The PTO have also stepped in to support another UK race in three weeks time, the Outlaw Half Holkham too, and who knows if there might be another to follow, should the restrictions on overseas travel continue for much longer.
Something of a rarity at Dorney Lake – very little wind – meant the usual headwind slog / tailwind speed wasn’t really in play on the bike. As well as meaning that the bike effort was going to be consistent throughout, the lack of breeze would also play a part in terms of cooling and hydration.
If you read my extended preview (HERE), then you’ll have seen that there was a pretty strong domestic (primarily) field, for an event which was over a hybrid distance, in between Standard and Middle. An hour or so less on the course for most, as the temperatures increased on a stunning day, was probably welcomed by the vast majority.
The atmosphere was certainly fun, relaxed with plenty of smiles were in evidence – but when the whistle (yes) went, the racing was on for the £12,000 prize purse.
Headline name for the race was of course Lucy Charles-Barclay, off the back of an unusually varied season to date – but fresh from that brilliant WTCS debut in Leeds last week. As in Leeds, she would have company in the swim, as I forecast, from another exceptional swimmer, Lucy Hall. Seeing two athletes well ahead of field on the return leg to T1, it didn’t take much guesswork to know who they were! The Lucy duo exited with a lead of more than two minutes over India Lee, and over four to Kim Morrison, Nikki Bartlett and Henny Tarasewicz. That would a tough margin to bridge.
No change at the front on the bike, but behind them, Morrison and Bartlett did manage to close the gap by a couple of minutes before T2, and in the process leapfrog Lee. Ruth Astle matched the pace of the ‘Lucy’s’, though her swim had left her one bike lap (of 12) down. She would make further moves on the run.
Into T2, and Charles-Barclay was onto the run first, and then gradually pulled clear and was never challenged.
The run has historically been the achilles heal for Lucy Hall, but she can take a lot of comfort from her own performance, especially as the temperatures were rising. Despite the progress of Nikki Bartlett to run into a podium position, Hall held firm for a clear second place, ahead of the ERDINGER Alkoholfrei athlete. Morrison crossed the line fourth, despite the fine run of Astle who moved through the fifth. Ruth was also able to smile and seemingly chat, for most of that 15km too!
[UPDATE] – there was an amendment to the final finishing positions, with 30 second time penalties applied to both Kimberley Morrison and India Lee, for transition infringements. (India mounting before the line, Kimberley dismounting after the line). This means that Ruth now moves to 4th, Kimberley to 5th in the final results below.
Joshua Lewis – representative for Guernsey at the 2018 Commonwealth Games – took a clear lead in the men’s swim, entering transition with a buffer of almost 45 seconds, from a chasing pack with included Tom Davis, Sam Wade, Luke Pollard, Reece Barclay, Jack Shayler, Mark Buckingham, Leon Chevalier and Kieron Lindars. Also in that group was a perhaps surprise late entry, Tom Bishop, in his fifth race in five weeks.
Once onto the bike, the race started to take shape, and from that large chase pack it was Tom Davis and Luke Pollard, setting the pace. They would eventually catch and pass the early leader, but Lewis was riding well too, and as Davis and Pollard set off on the run shoulder-to-shoulder, the Guernsey athlete was arriving in T2 not too far behind, clear in third place.
James Teagle and Leon Chevalier were both looking in contention starting the run, though Joe Skipper – the top-ranked PTO athlete ahead of the race – was going to have to pull out a remarkable final leg if he was to challenge for the win, starting the 15km around 4:30 back.
Up at the front, Davis and Pollard – the British Paratriathlon Guide for the Tokyo 2021 Gold medal favourite in the PTVI Category, Dave Ellis – were still head-to head at the end of lap one. And lap two. And indeed, entering the very final stages. This was a close race.
It was then that it all started to go wrong for Pollard, who began visibly suffering in the heat, losing balance and was going to have a very tough job to even make it to the finish. Not scenes that you want to see, but Davis and Pollard had dominated the race until the very final stages, until it all started to unravel.
After a frustrating start to 2021, Davis got back to winning ways, “I needed that” he said, post-race, while Leon Chevalier, James Teagle and Tom Bishop were able to pass a struggling Pollard within sight of the finish line for 2nd/3rd/4th, with Joe Skipper running through to 5th.
Best wishes to Luke on his recovery. After a long time being looked after by the medical team at the finish line, Luke is hopefully now on the mend.
Dorney Triathlon – Sunday 13th June 2021
1.8km / 58.8km / 15km
1st – Thomas Davis – 2:31:21
2nd – Leon Chevalier – 2:33:06
3rd – James Teagle – 2:34:05
4th – Tom Bishop – 2:34:57
5th – Joe Skipper – 2:35:46
1st – Lucy Charles-Barclay – 2:41:20
2nd – Lucy Hall – 2:43:18
3rd – Nikki Bartlett – 2:44:14
4th – Ruth Astle – 2:49:20
5th – Kimberley Morrison – 2:49:23