Hayden Wilde entered this weekend’s crunch WTCS Finals in Pontevedra as one of the favourites alongside great rival Alex Yee, but ended up just missing out on the coveted world championship title having unexpectedly been on the back foot all day.
After swimming well all season and seemingly making big gains in the water, both Yee and Wilde were close to a minute adrift heading into transition, with the odds slowly stacking up against them in similar fashion to the events that unfolded last year in Abu Dhabi.
Picking up an equipment penalty for dropping his swim cap on the way out of the water, Wilde came within a matter of places of clinching the title and explained in his post-race interview the rollercoaster of emotions throughout the race.
Split decisions for Wilde
Asked about the circumstances leading to the penalty after the race, Wilde (who finished 10th) admitted that a split decision led to him accepting his fate. The choice to leave his swim gap behind possibly proving the difference in the end between a series podium and missing out on the top spots.
“I had to make a split decision and I knew there were some fast guys in front of me. I flicked my cap off and I thought it was going into the water, but it didn’t which was my mistake, so I had to make a decision.
“If I had grabbed it, I think I would have been in Alex [Yee] group and would have been two minutes behind, and if I left it, I would’ve made the chase group, which I did.”
Despite making the difficult choice to risk a penalty in order to jump on to the back of the bike pack, Wilde was left frustrated by the lack of cohesion between the chasers, as the Kiwi was left to pick up the lion’s share of the work.
“I am kind of gutted because I did the most amount of work on that bike, I was really trying to motivate the group, but I just needed 20 seconds.
“I know Kristian [Blummenfelt] was a little ill and couldn’t start helping until the end of the rounds and we had Jelle [Geens] there as well, we had a good group and knew the guys at the front were gassing it, but nobody wanted to work.”
Close but no cigar for Hayden
After a tough time chasing on the bike, Wilde took his penalty after the first lap of the bike and from there went full gas, chasing places until the very end and eventually just coming up short as Frenchman Dorian Coninx took the crown.
“I tried as hard as I could to bridge the gap and went as hard as possible on the run, after taking the penalty on the first lap, to be able to get into a rhythm after, which was the right call.
“I actually had a really good run out there, it was super positive after the hip issue in Paris and the whole race was actually really good, I am pretty buggered now and I don’t usually spew after a race but I did today!
“One place better than last year, kudos to Dorian [Coninx] for his race, as if Tim [Hellwig] would’ve won I would have got the win, same thing as last year in Abu Dhabi where I was one slot away, but just didn’t have enough in the tank today.”