Zaferes, Coninx grab titles in 2019 WTS Bermuda
by Olalla Cernuda/Photos by Janos Schmidt/Tommy Zaferes—ITU Media
Zaferes strikes again in Bermuda
American Katie Zaferes arrived in Bermuda wearing the golden number 1 reserved for the Series leader, and she proved that she is determined to get the world title this season by producing an impressive performance that saw her dominating the field in the MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda from beginning to end. Behind her in the finish line were British Jessica Learmonth and Canadian Joanna Brown, claiming the first ever WTS podium of her career.
“I am very happy that I had a better swim than last year”, said Zaferes after crossing the finish line. “Inspired by Flora on her race last race, I just wanted to commit in the first few laps. We just kept pushing in the ten laps, which put us in a great position for the run”, she explained.
With local hero Flora Duffy out of the race due to an injury, the field was more open than ever. And the race started with an impressive downpour that forced the girls to swim in extremely hard conditions, with choppy water and strong currents due to the wind, but it looked like Jessica Learmonth, Vicky Holland (GBR) and Maja Kingma (NED) handle it really easy. The three of them lead an small group with some other strong swimmers, including Americans Zaferes, Summer Rappaport, Tamara Gorman and Taylor Spivey, staying together heading to the slippery transition.
Holland, Learmonth, Zaferes and Lotte Miller (NOR) were the best ones getting out of the wet blue carpet, and they pushed really hard in the first climb up Corkscrew Hill, in what it looked like a river instead of a road, with a stream of water making it extremely complicated to go up, and even harder to do down. But ended up being easier for them than for the large chase group, which slowed down in every technical corner of the circuit to avoid crashes.
The group of four looked determined and worked together in the first laps, but with seven climbs to go, Holland dropped dramatically, loosing 54 seconds in just a few kilometers and being trapped by the chasers, leaving Learmonth, Zaferes and Miller on their own, increasing the gap lap after lap.
Behind them, the group of chasers had 15 riders, which made it complicated, but quickly Joanna Brown took the lead and tried to organise the chase. She didn’t have much luck, and by the end of the 40km bike Zaferes, Learmonth and Miller had a lead of two and a half minutes.
Zaferes didn’t have the best transition on record, and lost a few seconds in the start of the run, but she quickly chased down Learmonth and Miller, and as soon as she passed by them she kept increasing the distance, with the golden medal on sight. Behind her, Learmonth looked strong in the second place, but Miller kept looking back, knowing that she had some strong runners on her heels. And indeed she had.
In the last lap, Joanna Brown flied past her to get herself in a third position that she will keep until crossing the finish line, with Austrian Lisa Perterer finishing in another historic fourth place for her. The Norwegian ended up in 8th place, being passed in the last kilometer by Georgia Tylor-Brown (GBR), Taylor Spivey (USA) and Angelica Olmo (ITA).
Surprise victory for Dorian Coninx with Javier Gomez returning to the podium in WTS Bermuda
For the second year in a row, Bermuda is proving the perfect race for getting first ever WTS victories. Last year it was a Norwegian, Casper Stornes, who surprised everyone by claiming the title, a honour that this time was for Frenchman Dorien Coninx, surprising all to claim his first ever World Triathlon Series, with a legend of the sport like Javier Gomez Noya claiming silver and the Norwegian Gustav Iden repeating the third place that he got 12 months ago.
“I am really happy”, said a delighted Coninx after crossing the finish line. “Specially because after Abu Dhabi I was a bit dissapointed, and when you start the season so badly is very hard to get over it. But I did, and during the race I was just thinking on enjoying it”, he explained.
Things didn’t start well for the three-times World Champion and leader until today Mario Mola (ESP), when he was trapped in a group that went too much to the right of the course in the first lap of the swim, loosing a really precious time. On the other end of the choppy waters of the Atlantic Ocean, his training partner Vincent Luis (FRA) stretched the field from the first strokes and opened a gap that proved to be decisive.
Luis was followed closed by some other really strong swimmers, including Henri Schoeman (RSA), Alois Knabl (AUT), Aaron Royle (AUS) and Igor Polyanskiy (RUS), but with two legends of the sport, Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) and Javier Gomez Noya (ESP) keeping an eye on them and not letting them go. By the end of the 1500m swim, Luis was still leading the race, but the gap was almost inexistent, and he had a long queue of athletes behind him.
The French knew that getting out on the bike first is really important in a course as tough as the one in Bermuda, and he delivered. He pushed hard from the first meters of the first lap, to be followed by another 20 men pushing to break away, knowing that the famous Norwegian trio was in the pursuing group, and will do whatever it take to catch them.
During four laps out of the ten, Luis, Brownlee, Gomez Noya, Marten Van Riel (BEL), Henri Schoeman (RSA) or Antonio Serrat Seoane (ESP) took turns to climb up the infamous Corkscrew Hill, but the difference with the chasers, led by the Norwegians, got smaller lap by lap. Behind them, more than a minute behind them, was Mola, not used to see himself so far behind.
And knowing that the Series leader seemed to be out of the game, the leaders and the first chase group, which included the Kristian Blummenfelt, Gustav Iden and Casper Stornes (NOR), among others, kept pushing to close the gap, helped by Fernando Alarza (ESP), Hayden Wilde (NZL) and Bence Bicsák (HUN).
By the end of the seventh lap, both groups merged into a huge pack of 33 riders, with all the big names except Mola and Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS) on it. And when it looked like the large group was going to try to save some energy for the run, which could also be a bit of a break for Mola -now almost two minutes behind-, Jonas Schomburg (GER), Jorik Van Egdom(NED) and Dorian Conninx (FRA) decided to go for it and try to break away in the last kilometers of the bike course.
Schomburg in fact managed to arrive by himself to the second transition, and started to run not looking back, knowing that just behind him were some of the strongest runners of the field. Luis, Blummenfelt, Gomez Noya and Iden started the chase right away, and half way through the 10km run it looked like the medals were going to be decided among these three. But another Frenchman, Coninx, had a different idea on mind. Coming from behind, he first connected with the four leaders to quickly leave Blummenfelt and Luis a bit behind.
Gomez Noya didn’t want to wait to the final meters and did his final push maybe a bit early, enough for Coninx to pass him with 200 meters to go. Iden looked determined to improve his third place from last year and fight for the second place, but in a final sprint Gomez showed why he is a five-time World Champion, with some titles won exactly like here: sprinting until the end.
Luis crossed the finish line in fourth place, enough for him to claim for the moment the leadership of the Series, with Mola in one of the worst results of his WTS career, on 26th place. Blummenfelt and Pierre LeCorre (FRA) followed them, with Bicsak, Joao Pereira (POR), Alarza and Leo Bergere (FRA) finishing the top ten, with an impressive count of four French men among the top ten.
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