Perhaps it was the French speaking environment, but Saturday’s World Triathlon Championship Series Montreal proved to be a great day for the Elite Men from France, who completed a very rare podium sweep at the top tier of draft-legal racing.
Race 1 (30 started, 20 to qualify for Race 2)
2019 and 2020 World Triathlon champion, Vincent Luis, headed the swim in race one, before the athletes headed into transition via a really long run from swim exit to bike stands. 28 men finishing the first bike lap within six seconds suggested that the swim, at least first time up, would have little impact on the final standings.
Joao Silva (POR) was off the back, but otherwise, it was looking like fast-forward to the final 2km run for the major decisions to be resolved with practically the entire field in contention. Vincent Luis managed to unship his chain mid-race, but resolve it on the fly, just to provide some interest!
28 men entered T2 within six seconds, from which just eight would be eliminated over the following six minutes. With so many athletes together, the men didn’t get quite the easy run to the finish as of the women did. Hayden Wilde (NZL) took the ‘win’, but surprisingly, Jonas Schomburg (GER) was one of those to miss out, having got sick after Tokyo. Miguel Hidalgo (BRA) was home in 20th, to move forward to race two.
Race 2 (20 started, 10 to qualify for final)
Another pace-setting swim from Vincent Luis, but this time by the end of the first bike lap a small group had managed to escape, albeit by just five seconds. With Dorian Coninx (FRA), Hayden Wilde (NZL), Jelle Geens (BEL) and Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS) among the chasers, that was a far from decisive break.
Eight athletes off the bike together, then the Hayden Wilde group arrived just eight seconds later. That leading group included favourites such at Luis, Van Riel, McDowell, Bergere and Taylor Reid (NZL). Wilde, Birtwhistle and Geens were among the renowned runners chasing and so that leading group would have to work to the finish. Still plenty on the line with entering the final kilometere, with 20 athletes to be reduced to ten for the final.
Spain’s Antonio Serrat Seone crossed the line tenth, but Jelle Geens (14th) was a surprise absentee for the final, along with the Aussie duo of Aaron Royle and Matt Hauser.
Another race, another Vincent Luis leading the swim – and he had Taylor Reid (NZL) right on his heels. Unable to challenge for an individual medal at the Tokyo Olympics, could Montreal offer a chance for victory?
Jacob Birtwhistle had to work really hard in the first 500m of the bike, but he managed to get back to the group of nine in front, leaving all ten starters together. Would that effort cost him and his legendary finishing speed on the run though? Less than 15 minutes to find out.
With such depth of talent, the pace on the bike actually fell, as making a breakaway attempt was going to be so tough. All set for a 2km run shoot-out? Nobody looked prepared to make a move – or was everyone confident in their run?!
Seth Rider (USA) was first out of T2, but Olympic Mixed Relay silver medallist Kevin McDowell made it just 50m, before injury ended his challenge.
Rider’s lead lasted less than a minute, before the French took over through Coninx and Luis. At the end of lap one, that duo – plus Van Riel, Wilde, Serrat Seaone and Bergere had pulled clear of Birtwhsitle in seventh. Six become five as Wilde was next to be dropped, but Leo Bergere was looking to take the headlines for France. With 400m to go, a French podium sweep as on the cards.
Separated by just three seconds, Dorian Coninx edged out Vincent Luis, with Leo Bergere completing the podium for Les Bleus.
WTCS Montreal – Final Results
300m / 7.2km / 2km
- Dorian Coninx (FRA) – 22:08
- Vincent Luis (FRA) – 22:09
- Leo Bergere (FRA) – 22:11
- Marten Van Riel (BEL) – 22:16
- Antonio Serrat Seaone (ESP) – 22:18
- Hayden Wilde (NZL) – 22:24
- Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS) – 22:31
- Tayler Reid (NZL) – 22:41
- Seth Rider (USA) – 22:57
DNF – Kevin McDowell (USA)