Three-stages of intense, dramatic super-sprint racing saw France’s Cassandre Beaugrand and New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde come out on top to win their second WTCS Hamburg titles on Saturday afternoon in front of packed crowds that included the IOC President Thomas Bach.
The course was demanding, tight and technical, the physical and mental pressures of completing three super-sprint triathlons unlike anything else on the Series circuit, and Beaugrand and Wilde went about their racing with impeccable power and precision to take home the titles and precious points towards the overall Series titles.
It was something of a Super-Sprint masterclass from France’s Cassandre Beaugrand on Saturday afternoon as she produced three peerless stages of WTCS Hamburg finals to win the gold and the format’s first ever women’s World Championship title.
With the fastest swim of anyone on the 30-deep start list for the first stage, Beaugrand was able to make the most of the clear water while behind was a melee of arms and legs through the dark tunnel. Laura Lindemann was never far from Beaugrand’s feet, Zsanett Bragmayer likewise, and soon that trio was joined by Beth Potter and carving through the city streets for the three-lap bike.
By the bell there were 18 athletes together and looking safe, though Lisa Tertsch had to serve a penalty that would cost her a place in the second round after failing to clip into her helmet before heading off on the bike.
Solveig Lovseth, Natalie Van Coevorden and Gwen Jorgensen were among the further nine names unable to progress, while Germany still had five women in the hunt for the medals with Lindemann; Annika Koch, Marlene Gomez-Goggel, Lena Meissner and the lucky last to make it, Anabel Knoll.
Beaugrand and Lindemann would again dominate the second round from the outset, this time there was transition drama with Katie Zaferes taking a tumble off the bike to end her chances, Sophie Linn injuring her foot in a bike wheel and forced to retire from the race.
Meanwhile Jolien Vermeylen was once more in flying form on the run and able to pick her way into the top 10 at the expense of Jeanne Lehair and Rachel Klamer, Nicole Van Der Kaay and Cathia Schar also through to the final 10 along with Taylor Spivey and Summer Rappaport.
That brought the second day of action and the WTCS Hamburg title for 2023 down to one race between the ten fastest women, and it was Lindemann firing up the crowds with a strong swim, the pack failing to break up and all ten pouring into transition together.
Cathia Schar was first to drop off the back but soon back in business and would be first out of T2 with Beth Potter, only for Beaugrand to go through the gears and find her flow one final time, opening an advantage and then pulling away so that by the bell there was little doubt she was on the way to another glittering Hamburg gold.
Beth Potter hung tough in second to ensure silver was hers, Lindemann making a popular podium for the home crowds who could then cheer Annika Koch and Marlene Gomez-Goggel across the line for the duo’s career-best finishes.
“I think I wanted it so much, I’ve been training so hard for this and just really wanted this one,” said a thrilled Cassandre Beaugrand.
“Today my transitions saved me a bit, I’m really happy with that. The 1500m is my strength, I’m very comfortable with it and that distance suited me.”
“Cassandre was always going to be hard to beat,” said Beth Potter.
“I’m proud of how I stuck it out and got through the race. I enjoy the format, and enjoy that kind of racing, it was good fun. I got lucky today in the water and was back where I feel like I belong and didn’t have any trouble in the swim today.”
“It’s amazing to race here in Hamburg on home soil and I had so much fun,” said Laura Lindemann.
“My plan was to stay out front but I was very tired going into that final race, the crowd was amazing though, it was awesome.”
Wilde had toiled in the first stage, having to do plenty of work on the bike to try and keep out of the pressure pit of the back of the race knowing only the top 20 would survive to stage two.
Jelle Geens and Matthew McElroy were among the first ten names eliminated, Vetle Bergvik Thorn likewise after a dismount line penalty cost him a place and saw Roberto Sanchez Mantecon through in 20th.
The second round was less frantic, though the pace was every bit as intense as Wilde again had to come from the back of the swim but found himself looking happier in the main bike group as 10 more names were shaved from the start list of the final round. Marten Van Riel, Manoel Messias and Tayler Reid were among the ten to go, the remaining names knowing that gold was within reach.
That was when Kristian Blummenfelt tried to wreck the legs of those around him with a dynamite bike display after Csongor Lehmann had led from the swim, but it was again Wilde who played his hand perfectly, sweeping the final bend and gaining precious seconds over the likes of Hauser, Yee and Blummenfelt that he then doubled thanks to a fluid transition, suddenly opening a gap that those behind could do nothing about.
That left a 1.75km run to glory for Wilde, his first lap clocking in 2 seconds quicker than Yee and enough of a margin for him to enjoy the blue carpet and the first time he had beaten Yee at a WTCS.
Vasco Vilaça was able to out-sprint Alex Yee to the silver, Blummenfelt taking fourth and Matthew Hauser fifth.
All of which sees Vasco Vilaça retaining his overall Series lead, Wilde moving ominously into second, Hauser sitting in third place with just WTCS Sunderland, the Paris test Event and the World Triathlon Championship Finals Pontevedra remaining in the Series.
“I had to do some work in that first round and the legs weren’t feeling too good but I was a bit more relaxed in the second out front, but my tactic was always to try and get a couple of seconds swinging round into transition and get away,” said Hayden Wilde.
“It was a bit of a gamble and I normally fumble a bit in T2 then it was just keep pushing and keep pushing and got the win. Everyone’s upping their game and starting that race it was always going to be difficult to get it done.
“I’m not sure you can call it short distance when we’ve been here for three hours, but we got a bit of a break in the middle, it’s a long session, a long time under pressure not just physically but mentally as well,” said Vasco Vilaça.
“This year has been amazing, better than I could have expected. This is where I want to be and I’m still missing that win but it’s the third podium this season and I’m very happy with it. Kristian was killing my legs on the bike and I could feel Alex’s shadow on that finish chute and went into another dimension to get the sprint and the finish!”
“It’s crazy this racing. I really enjoy it but it’s carnage, admitted Alex Yee.
“Once you get to that last ten just racing against your mates it’s really enjoyable, Kristian doing a madness on the bike and my legs were in tatters, but it’s great racing. I’m very much preparing for Olympic distance at the moment so to come down to this was madness, but I loved it.”