In pouring rain Sophie Coldwell of Great Britain earned her first World Triathlon Championship Series gold in Yokohama Saturday. Combining her Yokohama win with a silver in season opener at Abu Dhabi in March, Coldwell seized the top spot of the WTCS rankings after two of the year’s 8 events including the Paris Olympic test event. Coldwell thus leads the women’s field in the chase for the WTCS World Championship which will culminate with the Paris Olympic test event and the season finale in Pontevedra in September.
Combining a 4th-best 18:38 swim, a fourth-fastest 59:31 bike split and a fourth-best 33:53 10k run, Coldwell finished in 1:53:32 with a 17-seconds margin over maiden silver medalist Rosa Maria Tapia Vidal of Mexico – who claimed the first podium finish for her country since 2015. Coming on strong after a stress fracture to her toe kept her out of action for months, Taylor Knibb of the U.S. held off fellow U.S. Taylor (Spivey) by 12 seconds for the bronze.
Coldwell, Maya Kingma of Netherlands and Summer Rappaport of the U.S. showed their usual strong swim, but young Chinese triathlete Yifan Yang led the swim with an 18:38 split. Following closely was Kingma, Taylor Knibb of the U.S., Kate Waugh of Great Britain, and U.S, stars Kirsten Kasper and Taylor Spivey. Surprisingly, 2022 WTCS World Champ Georgia Taylor-Brown had an average swim that left her 31 seconds arrears of the leaders – a deficit she could never erase.
Leaving GT1, Yang led a Kingma, Coldwell, Rappaport, Taylor Spivey, Kate Waugh of Great Britain, Tapia Vidal, and U.S. stars Kirsten Kasper and Knibb. After one lap, Fang dropped back and the remaining seven created a 40 second gap over Taylor-Brown, Natalie Van Coevorden of Australia, Emma Lombardi of France, and Sophie Linn of Australia. By the time there leaders hit T2, they had opened as 1:40 gap.
First out of T2 were Spivey and Coldwell, followed by Knibb, Kingma and Rappaport with Vidal and Kasper further behind. By the first 500 meters, Coldwell had charged through an ever-increasing rain, and surged into an unchallenged win. Among the first chasers, Knibb made a few small breaks but was quickly swallowed again by Kingma and Spivey. After those few break attempts, the lead chasers settled back to save their legs for the run.
“I’ll try not to cry, it’s like a dream,” Coldwell told World Triathlon media. “I can’t really believe it. We had a really good block of training in Australia before Abu Dhabi and raced Abu Dhabi off the back of that. Now I just came here and tried to put the same processes in place. I am literally lost for words and this doesn’t happen very much.”
In a surprise charge, Tapia Vidal pushed hard to first catch Kingma, Waugh and Spivey. With less than 2 kilometers to go, she made a pass on Knibb and finished with a second-best 34:11 10k to take the silver.
Tapia Vidal was equally overwhelmed with her second place, the first time top 10 for her country since Claudia Rivas finished in the 9th place in WTS Edmonton 2015.
“This is my first medal in a World Cup or a World Series. I am still in shock. I will make mention of all the effort from my coach and all the people supporting me. It worked for me today. It’s been a long time since Mexico was on the podium in a World Series.”
At the finish, Knibb was also full of emotion. “I think everything was a bit of a shock to the system,” she told World Triathlon media. “Everyone was jostling for positions. If you told me a few months ago that I would be here at this race, let alone on the podium, this is a really big surprise. My surgeon told me it’s good to have a goal to get me through recovery and the fact that I am here, I’ll take that. I was on crutches a few weeks ago so thank you to everyone.”
1. Sophie Coldwell GBR S 18:38 T1 1:06 B 59:31 T2 00:26 R 33:53 TOT 1:53:32
2. Rosa Maria Tapia Vidal MEX S 18:47 T1 1:02 B 59:27 T2 00:27 R 34:08 TOT 1:53:49
3. Taylor Knibb USA S 18:37 T1 01:10 B 59:29 T2 00:31 R 34:17 TOT 1:54:02
4. Taylor Spivey USA S 18:43 T1 1:07 B 59:24 T2 00:26 R 34:35 TOT 1:54:14
5. Kate Waugh GBR S 18:38 T1 1:03 B 59:35 T2 00:27 R 34:39 TOT 1:54:20
6. Maya Kingma NED S 18:35 T1 1:08 B 59:33 T2 00:26 R 35:00 TOT 1:54:40
7. Georgia Taylor-Brown S 19:06 T1 1:06 B 1:00:34 T2 00:28 R 33:35 TOT 1:54:48
8. Kirsten Kasper USA S 18:41 T1 00:59 B 59:35 T2 00:31 R 35:19 TOT 1:55:03
9. Emma Lombardi FRA S 19:15 T1 1:02 B 1:00:29 T2 00:28 R 33:58 TOT 1:55:10
10. Summer Rappaport USA S 18:36 T1 1:03 B 1:01:11 T2 00:30 R 34:11 TOT 1:55:30
13. Ericka Ackerlund USA S 19:17 T1 1:03 B 1:00:25 T2 00:25 R 34:32 TOT 1:55:41
Hayden Wilde of New Zealand began his day with a 14th best swim that left him with a 16 seconds deficit, then charged on rain-slick streets of Yokohama to 4th place, 2 seconds off the lead. After one lap of the run, Wilde took a 1 second lead on 2022 World Champion Leo Bergere of France and 5 seconds on a pack of three - Frenchman Dorian Coninx, Morgan Pearson of the U.S., and Jelle Geens of Belgium. Halfway through the 10k run, Wilde found his running domination form to take a 14-seconds lead on Bergere. And by the third loop elongated his advantage to 28 seconds over a trio including Vasco Vilaca of Portugal, and a French duo of Dorian Coninx and Leo Bergere.
Midway through the final lap, Wilde abandoned his dream of breaking 29 minutes on the run and relaxed his way to the win, hitting the tape with a decelerated 29:30 run in 1:42:13 with a 4 seconds margin on a fast-closing Matt Hauser of Australia and 5 seconds on 3rd place finisher Vasco Vilaca of Portugal.
In a pulse-pounding sprint for the silver and bronze spots on the podium, Hauser rocketed from a 6th place, 32-seconds deficit with a lap to go to finish with a second-best 29:29 run to take the silver. And with a race-best 29:24 run, Vasco Vilaca of Portugal, took bronze by 1 second behind Hauser, surging to take the WTCS Series points lead.
With the weather taking a turn for the better (and drier) after the women’s race, the men’s lead pack coalesced into a crowded 25-man peloton by T2. Thus, all would be decided on the run.
With perfect transitions, Leo Bergere and Hayden Wilde took the early lead, while Vilaca fought cramps that almost forced him to stop, followed by Adrien Briffod of Switzerland, Henri Schoeman of South Africa, Coninx, Hauser, Nener, Geens and a slightly off form reigning Olympic gold medalist Kristian Blummenfelt of Norway.
Midway through the run, Hayden was all smiles and calmly cantered to victory. ““In Abu Dhabi, I had a mechanical and I didn’t get to show what I had so today I wanted to come out here and give it all,” he told World Triathlon media. “This year, I just wanted to go for a good time and that’s how it happened. I couldn’t believe the swim I had. I got into a really nice position and got on the front with Leo (Bergere) and company, so it was good. I really wanted to go quick and I was on pace quite nicely.”
Bergere suffered mild cramps which caused him to be caught by Hauser and Vilaca.
The silver medal came with a great sprint by Matt Hauser, who managed to pass Vilaca, Bergere and Coninx in the blue carpet to grab the silver. “It’s what self-belief gets you mate.”
Vilaca managed crossed the line in third place, enough to grant him the Series leadership. “Well the season is going pretty well,” he told World Triathlon media. “Going into the race with number one was super exciting. I lost the cap in the swim and I was looking forward to hanging that up on my wall when I got home. So, I thought I still need to be Series leader so I can get a number one cap for the next race. I got a big cramp on my left quad by the end of the T2 and I really lost the group and having 10km ahead of me, I kept believing.”
1. Hayden Wilde NZL S 17:26 T1 00:59 B 53:57 T2 00:23 R 29:30 TOT 1:42:13
2. Matthew Hauser AUS S 17:13 T1 1:03 B 54:13 T2 00:23 R 29:29 TOT 1:42:17
3. Vasco Vilaca POR S 17:22 T1 1:03 B 53:59 T2 0:33 R 29:24 TOT 1:42:18
4. Dorian Coninx FRA S 17:17 T1 1:01 B 54:07 T2 0:22 R 29:38 TOT 1:42:22
5. Leo Bergere FRA S 17:17 T1 1:03 B 54:02 T2 0:22 R 29:45 TOT 1:42:26
6. Adrien Briffod SUI S 17:45 T1 1:03 B 53:38 T2 0:21 R 29:52 TOT 1:42:37
7. Jelle Geens BELL S 17:47 T1 1:02 B 53:34 T2 0:21 R 30:00 TOT 1:42:42
8. Kristian Blummenfelt NOR S 17:54 T1 1:08 B 53:20 T2 0:26 R 30:02 TOT 1:42:48
9. Csongor Lehmann HUN S 17:21 T1 1:04 B 54:00 T2 00:25 R 30:10 TOT 1:42:53
10. Henri Schoeman RSA S 17:22 T1 1:02 B 54:04 T2 00:25 R 30:10 TOT 1:42:01
16. Seth Rider USA S 17:23 T1 1:07 B 1:07 B 53:54 T2 00:22 R 30:44 TOT 1:43:28
Matthew McElroy DNF
Chase McQueen USA DNF