ITU World Cup Gold for Sophie Coldwell in Tiszaujvaros

Tiszaujvaros ITU Triathlon World Cup

Coldwell reigns – but the men get rained (and hailed, lightning and thunder…) off in Hungary

Sunday’s Tiszaujvaros ITU Triathlon World Cup provided a perfect example of why responsibility for the safety of an event should reside independently, in the hands of Technical Officials, rather than with either the race organisation or the athletes. To give a Boxing comparison, sometimes the referee needs to step in and save a fighter from himself!

The Elite men started, but, thanks to the weather, never got a chance to finish their race. From the pictures I’ve seen and reports I’ve read, a wise intervention from the ITU Technical Delegate who, in this instance, was Great Britain’s John Petrides.

Before that however, there was British success – and a first career ITU World Cup victory – for the 2017 European Championship Silver medallist, Sophie Coldwell.


Sophie Coldwell reigns supreme in Tiszy before storm halts men’s progress

The town of Tiszaujvaros, north-east Hungary, was once again consumed by triathlon fever this weekend as two days of elite racing provided the focal point of the annual festival of sport and culture. For 22 years, Tiszy has been a staple on the ITU World Cup circuit, but for the first time in its history, this year the men’s race had to be abandoned after a freak storm saw hail and high winds leave conditions hazardous for the athletes and spectators. “The priority for us in any event is the athlete’s safety, and the extreme weather conditions in Tiszy this afternoon made it impossible to carry on with the men’s race. We had hailstorms, thunders, lightning and the wind was blowing up the barriers, so we decided to cancel the race”, said John Petrides, ITU Technical Delegate.

That was after Britain’s Sophie Coldwell had delivered an imperious display in the women’s race to earn gold in the very city she won seven years ago as a Junior. Coldwell dominated the run to finish 16 seconds ahead of Portugal’s Melanie Santos, who scored her first ever World Cup podium. USA’s Chelsea Burns came home in third.

With a large lead group of cyclists battling incredible weather conditions, the men’s race was cut short as the storm that blew in just after the athletes emerged from the water intensified. As the winds grew stronger, heavy rain gave way to hailstones, and as sections of the course became flooded the race referee took the decision to abandon the race for the safety of the athletes and the spectators alike.

Women’s Review

After a very well-executed and comfortable semi-final, Australia’s Emma Jeffcoat looked like the woman to beat on Sunday, but Coldwell also exuded confidence alongside Santos and USA’s Taylor Knibb in their semi.

The Hungarian duo of Zsofia Kovacs and Zsanett Bragmayer were equally focussed on securing their first-ever podium finishes on home soil, and as the swimmers found their rhythm and the field began to spread, it was Bragmayer who was able to assume the early lead and emerge first from the water.

Taylor Knibb had found herself a little way back in the traffic, but was typically unfazed as she and teammate Chelsea Burns soon made up lost ground and merged into a lead pack of 15 riders that also included Italy’s Ilaria Zane and Sara Sala of Spain.

With strong cyclists like Australia’s Jeffcoat and Tamsyn Moana-Veale, France’s Margot Garabedian and Britain’s India Lee also in the front runners, as each of the eight laps ticked by their lead grew, and by the bell it was a positively unassailable 75 seconds.

Tiszaujvaros ITU Triathlon World Cup
Photo: Janos M. Schmidt / ITU Media

Through the second transition, Taylor Knibb struggled a little with her bike and it was Santos and Coldwell with Burns and Spain’s Ana Godoy-Contreras who were able to assert themselves on the four-lap run.

Indeed, once Coldwell decided to make her move with two laps to go, there was nobody who could keep pace. As the Spaniard fell away, Santos found herself alone in second and Burns managed to hold off a late burst from Emma Jeffcoat to ensure her first podium since Huelva last year. Bragmayer was the highest-placed Hungarian in 10th, while Poland’s talented Roksana Slupek, winner of the second semi-final, finished in 15th.

1st – Sophie Coldwell (GBR) – 59:02
2nd – Melanie Santos (POR) – 59:18
3rd – Chelsea Burns (USA) – 59:28
4th – Emma Jeffcoast (AUS) – 59:31
5th – Anna Godoy Contreras (ESP) – 59:34

12th – India Lee (GBR) – 1:00:52

Men’s Review

Rain started to fall before the Elite Men walked in the Tiszy pontoon and in minutes, the athletes were caught into a wild swim with water pouring down.

With a large lead group of cyclists battling incredible weather conditions, the men’s race was cut short as the storm that blew in just after the athletes emerged from the water intensified. As the winds grew stronger, heavy rain gave way to hailstones, and as sections of the course became flooded the race referee took the decision to abandon the race for the safety of the athletes and the spectators alike.

Tiszaujvaros ITU Triathlon World Cup
Photo: Janos M. Schmidt / ITU Media