France’s Vincent Luis started his season with a win and gave the home crowd exactly what they wanted with a thrilling victory at the Liévin Indoor Triathlon Festival on Saturday night.
The twice World Triathlon champion and Super League Triathlon legend was pushed all the way in the final but his short-course prowess saw him come out on top.
It may have been indoors but the Stadium Arena Couvert Liévin event featured a swimming pool and transition area inside a 200m athletics track, on which the cycling and running legs took place.
A succession of heats and then semi-finals narrowed it down to the final 12 contenders, with Luis the clear favourite – and not just with the fans.
Fine margins in final
The margins were fine though in such a short format, lasting less than 10 minutes, and it started with a 150m swim, with Luis coming out of the water in second.
But he was soon in front on the bike and never relinquished that position.
Coming out of T2 and starting the 1km run it soon became clear it was a three-way battle, with Spain’s Genis Grau and Hungary’s Csonger Lehmann keeping the pressure on Luis throughout.
But a stinging kick on the final straight gave Luis a fraction of daylight on his two rivals and he crossed the line in 9:33, just a second ahead of Grau.
Lehmann was clear third, ahead of Britain’s Harry Leleu in fourth and Ireland’s James Edgar in fifth.
The event was last held in 2019, when Britain’s Chris Perham triumphed but this time he bowed out at the semi-final stage as he continued his comeback from injury.
Action replay for Eim
However there was a repeat winner in the women’s event in the shape of Germany’s Nina Eim.
That race too was a thriller for the capacity crowd, with Belgian Jolien Vermeylen looking in control on the run.
However Eim powered past with two laps to go and then held off compatriot Lisa Tertsch by two seconds for the victory.
Vermeylen had to be content with third, while Britain’s Iona Miller just missed out on the podium in fourth.
“It’s such a cool event,” said Eim afterwards. “It’s always fun to race here – I’ve missed it and hope to be back next year.”