With the big battle billed to be between Britain’s Alex Yee and New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde for the world title, Team France once again spoiled the party, with the trio of Léo Bergere, Dorian Coninx and Pierre Le Corre battling all the way to the line having controlled the race to perfection.
Coninx took the win with a tremendous effort, as Germany’s Tim Hellwig came home in second and Le Corre rounded out the podium ahead of Bergere in fourth place. With a home Olympics next year on the horizon, Les Bleus are increasingly looking like the force to be reckoned with when it matters.
Swim – Hauser sets the tone
Setting a fast tempo from the start of the swim, the usual suspects in the water, such as Jonas Schomburg of Germany, Matt Hauser of Australia and Henri Schoeman of South Africa strung out the field over the first lap, with Yee and Wilde over +0:25 behind after the first lap.
Over the second lap, the pace continued to ramp up, with a big front pack of more than ten athletes including French trio Pierre Le Corre, Dorian Coninx and defending world champion Leo Bergere headed into transition together.
Further back, third ranked Vasco Vilaca of Portugal, gunning for a maiden world title, came out of the water at +0:17, with Jonny Brownlee of Great Britain and Morgan Pearson of the United States just making the front pack on the bike.
Disastrously, Wilde and Yee found themselves almost +0:50 adrift coming into T1, with little support around them to bridge back up to the front group. Heading out on to the bike, Yee looked to be in trouble, as Wilde quickly dropped him before the Kiwi’s misery was compounded with a 15 second penalty for equipment outside the box.
Bike – Yee woes worsen
Over the initial stages of the eight lap bike course, the lead group took some time to get organised, with the impetus to put more time in to the rest of the field seemingly missing until some of the contenders, including Vilaca and the French squad, got wind of the predicament Wilde and Yee found themselves in.
By halfway through the bike, Belgian Marten van Riel was leading the front pack, who had lost time to Wilde but still had a +0:30 buffer over the New Zealander in the chase pack, where he was accompanied by Olympic champion Kristian Blummenfelt. For Yee, his day seemed to be over, with the Brit languishing +1:18 down after 20km of riding.
With two laps to go, despite the best efforts of his British teammates Barclay Izzard and Max Stapley, Yee was even further back at +1:40. Up the road, Wilde was still working hard in the chase pack to close the gap to the front, with Vilaca the best placed athlete to take the series win heading into the penultimate lap.
Finishing up on the bike, Vilaca was in a perfect position, with Wilde over half a minute behind and Yee way down, with a huge deficit by now of +2:18. American Pearson, who recently secured his qualification to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, was also looking dangerous and ready to strike.
Run – Coninx sprints for the win and world title
After the first lap of the run, there was a big group of almost twenty athletes at the front of the race, as Wilde took his penalty, and almost got another one for going too early, at the end of the first lap. With three laps to go, the odds were still very much stacked against the Kiwi.
Halfway through the run, Pearson made a break for the front, as the Boulder based pro had a +0:05 lead over a chase pack including Bergere and Coninx, as Vilaca began to drop back and Wilde was now +0:50 off the front. Bergere, again coming into the race as the major underdog, looked set to take a second consecutive world title.
Over the penultimate lap, Pearson was reeled in and spat back out, as the front group was whittled down to just five athletes, with three Frenchman, Coninx, Bergere and Le Corre, plus the German duo of Tim Hellwig and Lasse Luhrs. With all three French athletes mathematically capable of taking the world title, it was really coming down to the final minutes.
After leading for much of the last lap, Germany’s Hellwig was overhauled in a desperate sprint finish by Coninx, as he pulled clear of defending champion Bergere and countryman Le Corre, as the Frenchman took his first title to make it back-to-back French world champions with an incredible effort.
WTCS Finals Pontevedra Results:
Saturday September 23, 2023.
Elite Men – Olympic Distance
- 1. Dorian Coninx (FRA) – 1:42:22
- 2. Tim Hellwig (GER) – 1:42:22
- 3. Pierre Le Corre (FRA) – 1:42:22
- 4. Léo Bergere (FRA) – 1:42:28
- 5. Lasse Luhrs (GER) – 1:42:44
- 6. Miguel Hidalgo (BRA) – 1:42:48
- 7. Csongor Lehmann (HUN) – 1:42:54
- 8. Matt Hauser (AUS) – 1:43:04
- 9. Tyler Mislawchuk (CAN) – 1:43:09
- 10. Hayden Wilde (NZL) – 1:43:17
WTCS Final Standings
- 1. Dorian Coninx (FRA) – 4238
- 2. Hayden Wilde (NZL) – 4061
- 3. Leo Bergere (FRA) – 4003
- 4. Vasco Vilaca (POR) – 3703
- 5. Alex Yee (GBR) – 3629