Mighty France claimed a brilliant World Mixed Relay title in Montreal on Sunday while reigning Olympic Champions Great Britain grabbed silver to secure a berth at the Paris 2024 Games.
The Great Britain team of Alex Yee, Sophie Colwell, Sam Dickinson and Georgia Taylor-Brown needed to overcome some tired legs after Saturday’s heroics in the individual events. They also picked up a time penalty which meant Taylor-Brown had to catch, pass and put distance into the rival teams.
No team though was getting anywhere near the formidable French quartet of Pierre Le Corre, Emma Lombardi, Vincent Luis and Cassandre Beaugrand – who registered a comprehensive victory.
Leg 1 – Wilde puts on a show
With a lot of big hitters in the opening round, Japan’s Takumi Hojo was first to hit land after the opening 300m swim. A busy transition and bunch ride followed before New Zealand’s Hayden Wild decided to put on a show on the run.
The Olympic bronze medalist was light on his feet and showed no signs of tiredness after two days of individual elimination races. GB’s Yee was the only athlete fast enough to stop him disappearing off into the distance.
At the changeover, Wilde and Yee were together, the New Zealander slightly edging it and stopping the clock at 20min 29seconds with Yee one second behind and Brazil’s Manoel Messias five seconds behind him.
Leg 2 – France on the hunt
Brazil had a power swimmer in Vittoria Lopes, who caught Britain’s Coldwell and New Zealand’s Ainsley Thorpe. At the swim exit, Lopes, Coldwell, Thorpe and France’s Lombardi had a lead and were faultless in transition.
They left T1 as a solid group of four but didn’t work together effectively. Norwegian, Lotte Miller brought everyone back together.
Lombardi used her fresh legs to move the French team into the lead having not raced in the individual event, but Denmark’s Alberte Kjær Pedersen was equal to her efforts and, in fact, ran the Danes into a small lead at the changeover. France were just two seconds back with Norway in third and Great Britain’s Coldwell fifteen seconds back on the leader and in fourth place handing over to Dickinson.
Leg 3 – Penalty stops GB progress?
France’s Luis opened a 19-second gap during his impressive 300m swim. He had left T1 before anyone else got to their bikes – and even without the prospect of any help from a camera bike, he rode faultlessly in the lead.
New Zealand’s Tayler Reid and USA’s Kevin McDowell rode round in second and third place, unable to eat into Luis’ lead. Dickinson rode into T2 in fourth place, 36 seconds behind the lead with a group of others including Canada and Denmark.
After the run, Luis had slightly extended his lead to 21 seconds over New Zealand with USA at +24. Canada and Denmark were 51 seconds back and Dickinson fifth at +54 but with a 10-second penalty pending for a transition infringement.
Leg 4 – Taylor-Brown on a mission
Something would have to go horribly wrong for France not to win as Beaugrand dived into the swim. She delivered in style, deceptively appearing not to need to put too much effort in whilst the excitement unfolded behind her.
GB’s Taylor-Brown had eaten up the deficit to the USA and New Zealand at remarkable speed during the swim and bike. However, she needed do more than simply outrun her rivals – she also needed to give herself enough time to take the penalty too.
She chose to take it towards the conclusion of the 1.9km run with the finishing line in sight, but also with USA’s Summer Rappaport approaching. Taylor-Brown powered out of the penalty box, and fortunately had done enough as she sprinted to the silver medal and Olympic qualification.
It was a remarkable performance, even she admitted to not believing it was possible.
She said: “I was settling for fourth place as I thought Van Der Kaay [NZL] and Summer [Rappaport] would outrun me. I was using some very strong curse words to little Samuel [Dickinson] over here, but we got there in the end.”
The French margin of victory was 23 seconds at the finish. With two years until Paris 2024, they have a team with strength, depth and style, but Great Britain has an Olympic title to defend and a whole lot of determination to do so.
Montreal 2022 Mixed Relay World Champs Results
Sunday June 26, 2022 – 300m / 6.6km / 1.9km
- 1. Team France – 1:27:14
- 2. Team Great Britain – 1:27:37
- 3, Team United States – 1:27:44
- 4. Team New Zealand – 1:27:53
- 5. Team Canada – 1:29:06
U23 / JUNIOR (Separate race)
- 1. Team France – 1:24:07
- 2. Team Great Britain – 1:24:26 **
- 3. Team Germany – 1:25:40
- 4. Team Hungary – 1:26:17
- 5. Team Canada – 1:26:21
(** Hamish Reilly, Daisy Davies, James Chantler-Mayne, Bethany Cook)