It was a case of Les Bleus taking victory at the home of the Azzurri on Saturday at the World Triathlon Cup Arzachena. France topped the podium courtesy of Sandra Dodet, while the sprint for second place was pretty good too…
A beautiful, sunny day in Sardinia welcomed athletes to a calm sea, non-wetsuit swim. With just a 750m sprint distance, the swim wasn’t going to be the key to success here – particularly with the hilly bike course to come.
Zsanett Bragmayer (HUN), Bianca Seregni (ITA), Mathilde Gautier (FRA) and Great Britain’s Sophie Alden were along those leading the charge into T1. With the first hill on the bike coming almost straight out of transition, the shape of the race would be decided on two wheels.
A measure of the hills in Arzachena was soon clear. Annika Koch (GER) – recent winner of an African Triathlon Cup event – was having to zigzag across the road simply to make some decent forward progress.
Gautier powered on alone, dropping Alden and Koch, and by the end of lap one (of three) had broken clear and built a decent margin of 21 seconds. With the likes of Cassandre Beaugrand, Leonie Periault, Audrey Merle, Emilie Morier and Emma Lombardi in the French squad, Gautier is far from a headline name. With those star names absent, was this her time to shine?
It was certainly a brave and aggressive move on one of the best courses on the WTCS and World Cup circuits. One lap one, the French athlete still led the way, with a huge chasing pack of 23 trying to close her down. The advantage had been reduced, but was still around 15 seconds.
Up the final climb and the Gautier lead was eliminated. While a group of eight briefly looked as if they would break away, the descent saw everything come back together again. With a lot of tired legs in that group, it was going to be a tough (and not flat) 5km run to determine this podium.
First to show in the early stages was Miriam Casilas Garcia (ESP), with Verena Steinhauser (ITA) – twice third here – aiming to match her start number (#1) on home soil, in pursuit. A leading group of five formed, Garcia and Steinhauser joined by Dodet (FRA), Luisa Baptista (BRA) and Julie Derron (SUI). The same Luisa Baptista who was recently so impressive at IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside.
Five became three at the halfway mark, in the shape of Dodet, Baptista and Derron. Coming up fast after a slow T2 however was Jeanne Lehair (TRI), the former French athlete now in the process of allegiance transfer to Luxembourg, racing under World Triathlon colours here. Perhaps sensing that threat approaching, Dodet upped the pace and pushed on for home.
While Dodet was clear in front for the win, Derron and Baptista were shoulder-to-shoulder and at full gas for the last 200m, a sprint finish for the line which saw the Swiss athlete just win that battle for silver.
“It was a very hard race because of the bike…and on the run I was dying! It was very hot, but I’m very happy now.” said Dodet post-race.
“I thought many times on the run I was getting dropped, but I had to really fight mentally” said Derron, who matched her silver medal from 12 months ago.
“It was a very hard race, not only because of the heat but because of the bike. I was more scared of the downhills – I’m very happy with the result today” said Baptista
World Triathlon Cup Arzachena 2022 results
Saturday 28 May 2022 – ELITE WOMEN – 750m / 20km / 5km
- 1. Sandra Dodet (FRA) – 1:00:31
- 2. Julie Derron (SUI) – 1:00:35
- 3. Luisa Baptista (BRA) – 1:00:36
- 4. Jeanne Lehair (TRI) – 1:00:46
- 5. Miriam Casillas Garcia (ESP) – 1:00:52
- 6. Verena Steinhauser (ITA) – 1:01:00
- 7. Annika Koch (GER) – 1:01:04
- 8. Mathilde Gautier (FRA) – 1:01:12
- 9. Clare Michel (BEL) – 1:01:13
- 10. Julia Hauser (AUT) – 1:01:17
- 20. Sophie Alden (GBR) – 1:02:13