Thanks to a flat, fast bike course, the World Triathlon Cup Huatulco typically turns into a 5 km running race for the podium spots, and this year’s women’s race continued that tradition. In the end Germany’s Annika Koch took the title thanks to a speedy run, while Canadian Emy Legault managed to outsprint Italy’s Bianca Seregni for the silver medal. While the Canadian has had a dream season with three silver medal finishes at Americas Cup events this year, this was her first podium finish at a World Cup.
Seregni motors through the swim
Italy’s Bianca Seregni blew away the rest of the field, leaving Canada’s Kira Gupta-Baltazar at the front of the rest of the group. Seregni finished the swim in 9:29, with Gupta-Baltazar leading the rest 21 seconds behind. Legault had a strong swim, hitting the beach 30 seconds behind the fast-swimming Italian. Another Canadian, Alexandrine Coursol, was 40 seconds down, Dominika Jamnicky was 57 seconds down as she ran towards transition, while Brittany Warly was at 1:11.
Sergei cruised through the early part of the bike waiting for the chase group that included top-seeded Erika Ackerlund and Legault to catch her, and then, as is typical for the race in Huatulco, the pack got bigger in a hurry. Before the end of the first of the four laps the group was up to 18 as Legault led the group into the second lap.
It wasn’t long into that second lap before another chase group joined in with the lead group, that included most of the pre-race favourites, including Jamnicky . The group of about 35 stayed together through the end of the third lap, with Canadians Legault and Gupta-Baltazar featuring prominently at the front of the pack. Then, suddenly, towards the end of the third lap Gupta-Baltazar went down on the grass median.
During the fourth lap things started to spread out a bit more as some of the stronger cyclists started to press the pace, looking to stretch things out before the run.
Koch pushes the pace
Off the bike it was Germany’s Annika Koch who flew out of T2 in the lead, but Legault was right on her shoulder and quickly moved to the front. Close behind was swim-leader Serigni and Brazil’s Luisa Baptista, along with Austria’s Lisa Peterer, the two-time bronze medalist here in Huatulco. As Koch pressed the pace, Legault marked her moves, staying right behind the German as the two started to pull away from the rest of the women.
On the long downhill towards the end of the lap Legault was able to stretch things out and only Koch was able to stay with her, which meant the pair opened up a gap of about four seconds on Seregni and Mexico’s Rosa Maria Tapia Vidal.
On the uphill to start the second lap Koch started to open up some space on the Canadian, with Serigni seemingly lining Legault up as she started to press towards the front. At the final turn, Seregni was just a few metres behind Legault, setting up a 1 km sprint for the silver medal. Serigni moved ahead, but Legault managed to stay on her shoulder, setting up a long, downhill sprint to the line.
Koch was all by herself as she ran to her first World Cup podium, taking the win in 1:00:02. The drama was left for the silver medal as Legault sprinted her way to yet another silver medal performance after her runner-up finishes at two Americas Cup races earlier this year, crossing the line in 1:00:14, with Serigni taking the bronze two seconds later (1:00:16).
Jamnicky would take 11th in 1:00:55, while Coursol finished 28th in 1:02:14. Gupta-Baltazar was able to regroup for 39th (1:04:32).