It wasn’t until about 10 days ago that the ITU declared that the WTS event in Hamburg would be this year’s world championship – for many the event will always have an unofficial asterisk beside it as some of the world’s top triathletes and countries weren’t able to attend due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Included in that list were the Canadian team – as we reported last week, Canada hasn’t been able to get insurance for international travel for its athletes, an ITU prerequisite for federations sending athletes to its events.
In today’s men’s race, though, it seemed as though the guy who should have been most likely to win did. France’s Vincent Luis has been incredibly consistent over the last few years – the two-time Olympian took the WTS Grand Final in 2017 and 2018, and followed that up with the WTS title last year, hanging tough in Lausanne’s Grand Final with a fifth-place finish to ensure the overall title after a consistent year of racing. He’s been dominant in Super League racing as well – when it comes to short-course racing, he’s been the guy to beat for a while.
So it hardly comes as a surprise that in the one-race takes it all scenario that he found himself in this year, Luis would rise to the occasion.It wasn’t exactly easy, but by the time the Frenchman got to the last kilometre of the race it was pretty clear that he was on track for yet another win.
Things worked out well for Luis right from the swim. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee led a huge group out of the water, then drove the train that saw eight men get clear in a breakaway group on the bike. Included in the pack along with Brownlee and Luis were Brownlee’s brother, Jonathan, two other Frenchmen – Dorian Coninx and Leo Bergere, Portugal’s Vasco Vilaca and Germany’s Justus Nieschlag.
Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) pushed the chase group that included Richard Murray (RSA), Jelle Geens (BEL), Alex Yee (GBR) and Mario Mola (ESP), but that group was still 15 seconds behind Brownlee and co. as they hit T2.
Once out on the run it quickly turned into a three-man race as Luis, Bergere and Vliaca, who was competing in just his second WTS event, pulled clear of the rest of the men. Geens made a go at trying to bridge up to them, but couldn’t quite get there.
With 1,000 m to go Luis started to crank up the pressure, opened up a gap, and never looked back. Vilaca also made sure it didn’t come down to a sprint for the silver, pulling ahead of Bergere, who hung on to round out the podium. Geens would run his way to fourth ahead of Yee, Coninx, Murray, American Morgan Pearson, Alistair Brownlee and Switzerland’s Max Studer.
For those who were worried this controversial world championship might take something away from the current champion, Luis put that concern to bed with his title defence. During the post-race interview, his countryman Bergere was quick to call out the fact that their competitors from Australia and New Zealand weren’t at the race. We’ll have to get him some maple syrup to remind him about the Canadian contingent before his next race, but it was still a classy move to acknowledge that some of the world’s top athletes weren’t in attendance.
|Place||First||Last||Country||Overall||750 m swim||18.9 km bike||5 km run|
|41||Marco||Van Der Stel||NED||0:51:27||0:08:47||0:24:37||0:16:26|