But the overall title went to Britain’s Kate Waugh thanks to her second place, crowning a superb season which has seen her go from strength to strength.
Waugh had been in a three-way battle with Jeanne Lehair (LUX) and Emma Lombardi (FRA) for the overall crown but that pair were just run out of it as they finished third and fourth respectively in what was an Enduro format race, featuring three back-to-back triathlons (all in swim-bike-run order), with no breaks in between.
Stage 1 – Sharks bite early
Sharks manager Stuart Hayes had promised a fast start and how his athletes delivered!
Olivia Mathias led the way with a power-packed swim to win them the first short chute and early on the bike she was joined in the leading group of eight by teammates Waugh, Sophie Coldwell and Jess Fullagar.
But also in that pack were Santara Eagles pair Lehair and Lombardi, both in title contention along with Waugh and Coldwell, as well as Malibu winner Cassandre Beaugrand and Taylor Spivey.
Waugh ‘won’ the second short chute to deny the other teams and the aggressive tactics saw the race break up dramatically and by the end of the first run eight had become four, with Lehair, Lombardi, Waugh and Beaugrand opening up 18 seconds on the rest.
Lehair then surged clear on the run to earn what could prove to be a crucial short chute for the Eagles.
Stage 2 – Set up perfectly
Straight into stage two and the four out in front had a significant advantage beginning the swim.
It was Beaugrand who swept past the other three but it always looked likely they would join forces on the bike and so it proved.
However Spivey and Mathias had done superbly to bridge up on the bike so four had become six starting the run.
Also at that point the potentially all-important short chutes were allocated – Waugh taking the Sharks’ one while Tim Don opted for Lehair for the Eagles, putting that pair in pole position for the overall title.
A win for either of them would seal it, as it would for Lombardi. The fourth contender was Coldwell but she needed other things to go her way too.
The six stayed together during a markedly steadier run than stage 1 and everything was set up perfectly for the finale.
Stage 3 – Final reckoning
The final swim split things up more than expected, with Beaugrand leading the way and compatriot Lombardi on her feet.
And it was Lombardi, very much in contention for the overall title, who was quickest through transition and suddenly she had a 50-metre gap early on the bike over the other five.
The windy conditions potentially worked against her but she held her advantage initially and knew that, unlike Eagles teammate Lehair and Waugh, she didn’t have a short chute to come on the run.
But they were all back together going into transition, meaning the race and the season all came down to the ninth and final component.
Lehair inexplicably lost several seconds in transition which meant her short chute only got her back into the group whereas Waugh jumped clear along with Beaugrand.
Beaugrand, just as she had in Malibu, was proving the strongest but Waugh in second knew the title was beckoning as she was clear of the rest.
And that was how it finished – the race win for Beaugrand, the title for Waugh and Lehair a fast-finishing third and left to rue that final transition.
Waugh and Lehair actually both finished on 44 points in the final standings but the Brit took it thanks to the most recent result proving the decider.
In terms of the team standings, that went the way of the Eagles following a dramatic men’s race.
Super League Triathlon Neom 2023 results
Saturday 21 October 2023 – Enduro – Elite Women
- 1. Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA)
- 2. Kate Waugh (GBR) +11s
- 3. Jeanne Lehair (LUX) +21s
- 4. Emma Lombardi (FRA) +26s
- 5. Olivia Mathias (GBR) +37s
Final standings after Neom (round four of four)
- 1. Kate Waugh (GBR) – 44pts
- 2. Jeanne Lehair (LUX) – 44pts
- 3. Emma Lombardi (FRA) – 41pts
- 4. Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA) – 35pts
- 5. Olivia Mathias (GBR) – 34pts
Final team standings
- 1. Santara Tech Eagles – 425pts
- 2. Bahrain Victorious Scorpions – 407pts
- 3. RTP Sharks – 390pts
- 4. RTS Warriors – 220pts
Series Discipline winners
- Swim – Sophie Coldwell
- Bike – Jess Fullagar
- Run – Jeanne Lehair