The Elite Men were first up at Friday’s World Triathlon Championship Series Abu Dhabi, held in and around the Yas Marina F1 circuit.
17 men would start the final 5km run together, with two athletes who had Olympic Games frustrations to exorcise taking gold and silver, plus a first-time WTCS medallist completing the podium.
Geens gains victory on the run
The swim – non-wetsuit of course – in the bath-like water of Yas Marina saw the predictable sight of twice World Champion Vincent Luis lead the way with just Marc Devay (HUN) able to stay with him. Luis might not have been in his best form in 2021 but his swimming has been flawless all year.
There was a clear gap to the chasers – the Japanese pairing if Takumi Hojo and Kenji Nener leading the chaser around eight seconds back but it was unlikely to be enough for two athletes to form a breakaway on the F1 circuit course given the quality of athletes chasing.
That would prove to be the case as the 20km unfolded, and less than 30 minutes later it would be a leading group of 17 reaching T2 together. Lots of quality in there too, with Luis, Geens, Hayden Wilde, Tyler Mislwchuk plus WTCS Hamburg winner Tim Hellwig amongst them.
So late in in the season, it was all up for grabs and predicting form in November is something of a lottery. Gordon Benson and Sam Dickinson lead in the chase group – but 40 seconds back, nobody from that pack was going to be threatening the podium on Friday.
One lap of the run and 2.5km in, 17 athletes had been reduced to five – Wilde, Luis, Bence Bicsak (HUN), Geens and Antonia Serrat Seoane (ESP) as the pressure of the pace and heat of the UAE were starting to play their part.
Wilde was the first to fade, then Serrat Seoane next which left three – at which point Geens put in a significant surge of pace and that would prove decisive.
Luis has perhaps the strongest sprint finish in the sport, but that was not going to be enough to bridge back here, as the Belgian athlete secured his second WTCS victory, his first coming two years ago in Montreal. Having missed the individual race at the Olympic Games due to a positive COVID test, it was a positive way to end what had been a frustrating year.
Luis was more than content with silver – and very happy to see his training partner take the win – while Biscak achieved his best result to date in the top tier of the sport.
World Triathlon Championship Series Abu Dhabi 2021 Results
Friday November 5 2021 – ELITE MEN
750m / 20k / 5k
- 1. Jelle Geens (BEL) – 52:21
- 2. Vincent Luis (FRA) – 52:26
- 3. Bence Biscak (HUN) – 52:29
- 4. Pierre Le Corre (FRA) – 52:35
- 5. Antonio Serrat Seoane (ESP) – 52:38
- 6. Tyler Mislawchuk (CAN) – 52:42
- 7. Vasco Vilaca (POR) – 52:47
- 8. Hayden Wilde (NZL) – 52:55
- 9. Kenji Nener (JPN) – 52:59
- 10. Gabor Faldum (HUN) – 53:04
- 17. Gordon Benson (GBR) – 53:40
- 22. Samuel Dickinson (GBR) – 54:00