Cassandre Beaugrand made a winning return to Super League Triathlon action with a convincing victory in Malibu on Saturday.
The French star was peerless as she romped to an Eliminator win ahead of compatriot Emma Lombardi, with Jeanne Lehair in third. The Luxembourg star also grabbed the championship series lead from Kate Waugh in the process.
Beaugrand off to a flying start
The field entered the Pacific from Zuma Beach with the winds providing challenging conditions via those trademark waves and chop.
It was London winner Lehair who really nailed the opening swim, pouncing at just the right moment to grab the advantage leaving the water onto the beach in California.
Lehair was swiftly through the transition to grab the first short chute of the day for the Santara Tech Eagles. Iona Miller followed her through with Summer Rappaport, Beaugrand and Fanni Szalai next. Potter was 10th but she was only 12 seconds back.
The bike course had dried out well after very wet conditions earlier in the day, as Lehair really pushed the pace at the front. But she was quickly joined by a host of challengers, led by French pair Lombardi and Beaugrand. Potter was also now right in the thick of things, just three seconds off the pace.
The British women right now are on the crest of a wave and Sharks Coldwell and Potter took over at the front to head a lead group of seven. They were followed by Lombardi and Pontevedra runner-up Waugh. Beaugrand meanwhile was trying to hang onto that lead pack.
Potter was fastest in transition as she got out onto the run ahead of team-mate Coldwell, to claim the second short chute of the day for the Sharks. The British pair were followed by Eagles Lehair and Lombardi. Then came Beaugrand and Waugh.
The run started with a scenario we’ve had so often in WTCS combat in 2023, with Potter and Beaugrand right at the head of affairs. Lehair and Lombardi were also very much in contention to make up a lead group of four. Beaugrand took the bell first, and that front four had built a gap of around five seconds to Coldwell in fifth.
Into the closing stages and it was Beaugrand who claimed victory in the first stage and the latest short chute of the day for the Scorpions, followed by Potter, Lehair and Lombardi. It was then 10 seconds to the next finisher Coldwell.
The three athletes eliminated were Barbara De Koning, Gina Sereno and Iona Miller.
Lombardi in pole position
Beaugrand and Lombardi were quickly at the front in the swim as the second stage got into full swing, but the waves yet again proved the great equaliser and by the time the field exited the water it was Coldwell and Rappaport at the head of the field. The Brit transitioned nicely to lead out onto the bike leg.
Sophie was chased by Lombardi and Warrior Zaferes, but the Brit was really dropping the hammer to open up an early five-second gap to her rivals. The gap from the front three to the next athletes was almost 10 seconds after the first of three bike laps.
Coldwell continue to really force the pace on lap two of the bike, and she had around four seconds spare over Zaferes and Lombardi when they took the bell. Potter and Beaugrand meanwhile were almost 20 seconds away with the field now well strung out.
At this stage we got the news that the Sharks short chute would go to Potter, and not Coldwell. Would that be the right call? Beaugrand meanwhile got the nod for the Scorpions while it would be Lombardi taking the short cut for the Eagles.
It was still Coldwell at the head of affairs as they reached T2 and she was first out onto the run with Lombardi and Zaferes just a couple of seconds away. Lehair meanwhile was flying, and clawing back seconds in bunches in fourth. Beaugrand, Potter and Waugh headed the next group, around 14 seconds in arrears.
Lombardi it was who put in the final burst to end the second stage in front, just ahead of Coldwell and Zaferes. Lehair was just three seconds away with Potter and Beaugrand a further six seconds back.
So how did all of that leave the field positioned heading into the final deciding stage of the day? We had Lombardi in front with just a three-second lead over Lehair with Beaugrand a further three seconds back. Then it was Potter at +00:07, Coldwell at 00:10 and Zaferes at 00:12.
Eliminated after stage two were Szalai, Sophie Alden and Tilly Anema.
Cassandre stretches away
Lombardi maintained her advantage on the final swim of the day, but only just as compatriot Beaugrand followed her closely out of the Pacific. They were almost 10 seconds clear of Potter and Lehair with Zaferes at +00:13 and Coldwell +00:20.
The French pair set a blistering pace on the first bike lap, and they had a 12-second advantage over Zaferes in third with Potter and Lehair right behind the American star. Could that select chase pack make any inroads on Les Bleus?
The answer on lap two was negative as Lombardi and Beaugrand increased the advantage to 13 seconds over that chase pack of Zaferes, Potter and Lehair. There was pain meanwhile for Rappaport as her day ended with a very nasty crash which left her on the deck. She would later reveal she had suffered a broken jaw in the crash.
Back at the head of the race, Lombardi exited T2 with a slight advantage over Beaugrand, who surely looked favourite for the win. Potter, Zaferes and Lehair meanwhile were all 13 seconds away.
Beaugrand’s vaunted run ability pretty much settled the result on lap one of the run as Cassandre quickly stretched away to move clear of Lombardi. The gap at the bell was four seconds with Lehair at +00:13 and Potter +00:14.
There was no stopping Beaugrand as she romped home to grab the win ahead of Lombardi, while Lehair claimed third and the overall championship lead heading into the Grand Final in Neom on October 21.
Super League Triathlon Malibu Results 2023
Women – Saturday September 30
- Cassandre Beaugrand (Scorpions) – 15:53
- Emma Lombardi (Eagles) – +8.7
- Jeanne Lehair (Eagles) – +12.5
- Beth Potter (Sharks) – +19.0
- Katie Zaferes (Warriors) – +25.4
Latest Super League Standings
2023 Championship Series, after Malibu
- 1. Jeanne Lehair (Eagles) – 28
- 2. Emma Lombardi (Eagles) – 27
- 3, Kate Waugh (Sharks) – 26
- 4. Beth Potter (Sharks) – 24
- 5. Sophie Coldwell (Sharks) – 24