Much of the talk after Super League Triathlon’s Championship Series finale in Neom surrounded the Scorpions’ decision not to give Hayden Wilde the short chute he’d won earlier on the bike.
Team boss Michael Gilliam instead elected to hand it to Henri Schoeman, who did manage to finish ahead of a small bunch finish for sixth.
But the call left Wilde vulnerable in his head-to-head battle for the race win and the overall title with Leo Bergere.
And the Frenchman, world champion last year, never looked like being caught after opening up a gap after being able to cut that first corner thanks to being handed the Eagles’ short chute by manager Tim Don.
He would go on to win the race by nine seconds from Wilde, which also saw him succeed the Kiwi as the overall champion.
This was in stark contrast to 12 months previously, when Gilliam’s tactics led the Scorpions to the lucrative team prize – this time it was Don’s Eagles who topped the standings.
‘We did all we could’
While Wilde looked upset when crossing the line, he was soon chatting to Gilliam and was magnanimous in defeat when interviewed.
He said: “Obviously coming over the finish line I was a little bit frustrated but it was actually a great day out there as I’ve been struggling with a cold.
“There were actually a few mistakes in transition where the shoes were still in the box and a few other things. But I asked for the short chute because I wasn’t feeling too well at the end and didn’t get it.
“But we did all we could and we keep fighting and we come back next year harder.”
Teamwork makes dream work for Bergere
Bergere didn’t put a foot wrong himself and would have been a tough man to beat anyway and he said afterwards: “I was scared to look behind until about 400 metres from the line – I was expecting to see Hayden right behind me!
“But when Tim Don told me I’ve got it, I was just delighted.
“I can’t thank my team enough – Tim obviously and Matt Hauser too for winning that short chute for us today. Without the help of everyone I couldn’t achieve the victory.”