Pallant (GBR), Mola (ESP) Crowned Duathlon World Champions at Ibiza Multisport World Championships
The heat was rising in Ibiza on Saturday morning as 32 women lined up for the first elite action of the 2023 World Triathlon Multisport Championships, eyeing the Duathlon world title in Santa Eulalia.
The 5km run, 20km bike, 2.5km run course was fast and flat, and there was no pause for breath as the athletes attacked from the outset, only for Emma Pallant and Zsanett Bragmayer to break clear of the pack and turn it into a two-person race for the title.
It was the British long-distance star who took gold just as she had way back in 2016, Hungary’s Bragmayer delighted with a hard-earned silver and Monday’s aquathlon still to come, Japan’s Ai Ueda with bronze.
“I didn’t realise it had been seven years since my last World Championships,” said Pallant. “So much has changed since and this being a sprint is totally different format so I was a bit nervous and doubting my slowtwitch a little bit and transitions so definitely felt the pressure! I’m used to killing the legs a bit but getting the speed was important and I had to back myself. I wanted to break on the bike but thought it would be the second lap and not into the headwind but that was it!’
Kaiser and Ueda look to stretch field early
With defending champion Joselyn Abreu not starting, the door was open for a heated battle to the top, and the pace was on from the outset as Japan’s Ai Ueda looked to set the early pace along with Germany’s Celine Kaiser and crowd favourite Maria Varo Zubiri.
Bragmayer couldn’t quite match their early speed, finding herself half a minute back as the first athletes hit transition with 16m49 on the clock and headed out onto the 3-lap, 20km bike segment.
It wasn’t long before Bragmayer was back among the leaders though, joining the likes of Giorgia Priarone (ITA) and Marion Le Goff (FRA) in a 13-deep pack even before the dead turn.
Bragmayer makes a move
After a brief assessment of her situation, Bragmayer made the move to pull clear, only Pallant able to respond, and soon the two had 30 seconds over the chasers left trying to reorganise themselves.
That never quite came together. By the end of lap two the gap was up to a minute, nearly two minutes by the time they hit transition for the final time, and there were suddenly only two possible names on top of the first elite podium in Ibiza.
Pallant pulls it back
Bragmayer was fluid into the running shoes, Pallant took her time, but that moment of composure helped fuel an imperious final 2.5km burst that quickly saw her catch and then pass the Hungarian, Bragmayer accepting her fate and delighted to come away with silver as Pallant soaked up her moment to win by 23 seconds.
Further back, Ueda was able to dig in and find the edge over the battling Giorgia Priarone to take the bronze, Varo in fifth ahead of Sandrina Illes (AUT). Italy scored a double gold in the U23 and Junior world championships, Asia Mercatelli and Noemi Bogiatto winning the golds respectively.
“It is amazing, I wanted to be on the podium once these championships, I didn’t expect it to be today!” said Bragmayer. “It all came together, my tactics worked and Emma really helped on the bike. I knew there would be a gap out of the first run and I had to control myself, and I knew I had the power to catch the group then make the attack. I didn’t look back to see who was coming with me, she just came up and we got into it.”
“I’m so happy to get the podium!” said Ueda. “My plan was to go out fast in the first run and get a small group on the bike, but Emma and Zsanett escaped on the bike and I couldn’t stay in touch. I was side by side with Giorgia at the end, and really pleased to podium.”
For the full results, click here.
He is a three-time World Triathlon Champion, and the smile on Mario Mola’s face on Saturday afternoon was just as broad as it was for his Gold Coast win back in 2018, on route to becoming Duathlon World Champion in Ibiza.
The pace was on from the very first paces of the opening 5km run, Mola pulling clear into transition and then biking solo for half the 20km bike before being caught by the large train that had formed behind. Multiple attacks were held at bay before a controlled 2.5km final effort to the tape, edging France’s former champions Benjamin Choquert and Krilan le Bihan into second and third.
“At the start of the season I thought I’d give the duathlon a shot, but these guys are unbelievable, so I am incredibly happy to be here and get the win in front of my home crowd,” said a smiling Mola. “I knew the course was one where people can see you from a long way away so to break is difficult, but I thought I’d give it a go and try to make it work. Arnaud came and wanted to push but I saw the French team were working well together and close. My experience in Caorle was that if you’re not in front out of T2 you are in trouble, so I made sure I was well placed.”
Favourites come clear of congestion
The 52 elite and 19 U23 athletes lined up at the start made for a congested opening 200m as they jostled for the early advantage heading into a flat and fast 5km out and back then around the sun-soaked Santa Eulalia Harbour.
James Teagle (GBR) was clearly eager for daylight up ahead, but it wasn’t long before Mola had picked his way to the front and began to set the pace for those around him, the field stringing out significantly so there were 30 seconds separating the top 10.
Mola solo effort ends
Another Brit, Hugo Milner was in hot pursuit along with Belgium’s Arnaud Dely and Valentin Andre of France, but Mola was sensing a big opportunity and set out alone to attack the first 6.5km bike loop.
Nathan Guerbeur was among those working to keep tabs on the flying Spaniard and the French were looking threatening as ever, but it was Dely who made the move to try and catch Mola as the halfway point approached.
There was little appetite to try and push on together though, and soon the packs merged into one, taking the final lap with just the occasional attack none of which came to anything meaningful.
Experience pays over final 2.5km
Into transition positioning was looking key, Erwin Vanderplanke (BEL) in and out first, Mola and Choquert close in with Samuele Angelini of Italy and Andre still looking dangerous.
It soon became a battle between the hugely experienced pair of Choquert and Mola to see who was able to hold off the other, and after a little cat and mouse a surge with 1km to go saw Mola clear. Choquert never let go but the elastic had gone and it was the local hero who coasted home to a hugely popular win, Choquert followed over the line by 2022 World Champion Krilan le Bihan, Arnaud Dely and Italy’s Riccardo Martellato rounding out the first five as the U23 World Champion. The men’s Junior title was won in dominant style by Spain’s Pelayo González Turrez.
“It was a strong race this year, the French, Belgians and Spanish all very strong, so it was good to have second and third,” said Le Bihan. “He was really fast in that first run, Choquert started the second one fast, but once Mario past through us it was really hard to stay with him!”
For the full results, click here.
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