Those of us who have followed Lucy Charles-Barclay’s amazing triathlon career were hardly surprised to see the British athlete serve as a monstrous game-changer, even as she made her draft-legal World Triathlon racing in one of the sport’s biggest showcases, the World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) Leeds.
It was the three-time Kona runner up who hammered through the swim, stringing out the rest of the field. Charles-Barclay led a group that included countrywomen Jessica Learmonth and Sophie Coldwell, along with Maya Kingma (NED), Taylor Spivey (USA) and Vittoria Lopes (BRA). A super-fast transition got Learmonth out onto the bike in first, and she hammered early to set up a three-woman breakaway with Kingma and Learmonth, with Charles-Barclay, Spivey and Lopes finding themselves in a first chase-group of three.
Canada’s Amelie Kretz came out of the water in the main group, about a minute off the pace of the leaders.
Two-time world champion Flora Duffy managed to extricate herself from the second bunch of chasers to join up with Charles-Barclay, Spivey and Lopes, but the group could never get itself as well-organized as the three leaders out in front, who managed to gain more time on the rest of the field throughout the bike. By the time they were all done the hilly, windy Leeds course, the gap was about two minutes on the first group, and about three minutes to the large chase group that contained the likes of Katie Zaferes, along with super-quick runners Beth Potter (GBR) and Cassandra Beaugrand (FRA). Kretz was also part of that group, setting herself up for another top finish, which would hopefully be enough to nail Canada a second Olympic spot.
Out on the run course Kingma pushed hard early on, but the two Brits quickly marked the move. In the second lap, though, Coldwell dropped off the pace, setting up a duel between Learmonth and Kingma for the win. Duffy quickly extricated herself from the rest of the chasers, while Spivey and Charles-Barclay found themselves running stride for stride and suddenly having to hold off a charge from Potter, who was using her world 5 km record-setting speed to chase for a top finish.
Learmonth and Kingma would push each other through the final lap with Coldwell hanging tough about 15 seconds behind. On a long downhill Kingma made her move, flying away from the Brit to take the win. Coldwell hung on for third, with Duffy taking fourth. Charles-Barclay continued to amaze by sprinting away from Spivey to take fifth, with Spivey taking sixth followed by Potter in seventh.
Spivey’s top finish was an important one for her as she and 2019 world champion Katie Zaferes (17th) are in the hunt for the final American spot in Tokyo.
Kretz continued her impressive Olympic run with a 21st-place finish – heading into the race she was 53rd in the Olympic standings, today’s finish should be enough to keep her in at least that spot, which will qualify two Canadian women for the Olympics.
You can find results from today’s race here.