Olympic champion Flora Duffy of Bermuda topped a stellar field in her Super League Triathlon debut at Malibu, dominating the field in the Eliminator format. Duffy’s win gave second place finisher Georgia Taylor-Brown the overall series championship by one point over British compatriot and pre-race series leader Jess Learmonth.
“It was my first Super League experience and I didn’t know what to expect,” Duffy told Super League media. “But I loved it. It helped coming in fresh, but the speed was a shock to my system. I grew up in Bermuda so I spent a lot of time in the ocean and I’m used to the surf, so I felt comfortable out there. Georgia is such a classy athlete and so talented and really turned it on during that last run.”
Duffy triumphed over a star-studded field including Olympic silver medalist Georgia Taylor-Brown, Britain’s recent Ironman 70.3 World Champion Lucy Charles-Barclay, 2019 ITU World Champion Katie Zaferes, Olympic triathlon relay bronze medalist and SLT series leader Jess Learmonth, and the entire women’s Olympic triathlon podium
Learmonth came into this race with three out of three wins in the Super League Series, which put $1.25 million on offer in various categories. But because the points for the series finale were doubled, that provided Taylor-Brown’s ever so slim margin of victory.
After London’s Triple Mix, Munich’s Equalizer and Jersey’s Enduro, the finale was contested in the original Super League Eliminator format. Conditions were challenging and included a choppy Pacific Ocean 300-meter swim, a 4-kilometer bike and a 1.6-kilometer run performed in three consecutive times, with some of the slowest competitors eliminated in each segment.
Lucy Charles-Barclay led the Stage One swim, followed closely by Brazil’s Vittoria Lopes, and Duffy, with Learmonth 6 seconds back. Lopes won a $20,000 award for being the best female swimmer of the series.
Leaving T1, Charles-Barclay bumped into the railing and Duffy took advantage to take the lead. The technical circuit was causing problems for long-course star Charles-Barclay. But Duffy – an experienced ITU athlete – was in her element. Duffy grabbed the first Short Chute bonus by crossing the T2 mount line ahead of Learmonth. Taylor-Brown, having had a demanding race in Jersey a week before, followed Duffy home with Learmonth, Non Stanford and Charles-Barclay making the Brits four out of the top five.
Duffy continued her assault on the race and again controlled the tempo ahead of some of triathlon’s biggest swim stars. Duffy led the swim with a 3:52 split that gave her a short lead on Learmonth and Charles-Barclay. Starting the bike, Learmonth and Duffy led, with Taylor-Brown and Charles-Barclay leading the chasers. Leaving T2, Learmonth and Duffy led the way as Taylor-Brown joined the leading pack
Taylor-Brown was soon with the pacesetters, but the speed slowed as the three prepared for the final showdown to come. Duffy again crossed the line first ahead of four Brits and, with the Short Chute trick up her sleeve, could anyone stop the Olympic champ?
With the surf picking up in intensity, Duffy led the way until Charles-Barclay caught a wave, leap frogging into T1 in first place. Thanks to a strong ITU transition, Duffy led the field into the run. Charging into the run, Duffy, Learmonth, Taylor-Brown and Katie Zaferes formed a lead pack, but Charles-Barclay fell off the pace and was Eliminated as the last triathlete into T2.
Zaferes led the way into the run, while Learmonth ran out of energy. As Duffy used her Short Chute on the first lap, she was able to cruise to the victory.
Behind Duffy, the overall Championship title was contested. Taylor-Brown finishing second in Malibu to take the title ahead of her close friend Learmonth. After a series that saw her crash, take wrong turns and have a disqualification in Jersey overturned, Taylor-Brown was the champ by just a single point over Learmonth.
For Georgia Taylor-Brown: $50,000 for winning the overall series. For Georgia Taylor-Brown, $60,000 for winning three races. And more.
SLT Final Standings
Georgia Taylor Brown - Rank 1 - Points 60 – London 14 – Munich DNS – Jersey 14 - Malibu 18
Jessica Learmonth Rank 2 – Points 59 – 15-15-15-14
Katie Zaferes Rank 3 - Points 49 – 12-12-9 - 16
Beth Potter Rank 4 – Points 39 – 9 - 13 – 11 - 6
Vicky Holland Rank 5 – Points 38 – 13 – 8 – 12 - 5
Taylor Spivey Rank 6 – Points 37 – 10 – 11 – 8 – 8
Leonie Periault Rank 7 – Points 34 – 8 – 6 – 10 – 10
Cassandre Beaugrand Rank 8 – Points 33 – 10-2- 13 - 12
Sophie Coldwell Rank 9 – Points 30 points – 11 – 10 – 6 - 3
Rachel Klamer Rank 10 – Points 25 – 12 – 7 – 4– 2
Non Stanford Rank 11 – Points 24– 1 – 7 – 7 - 9
Flora Duffy Rank 12 – Points 20 – DNS - DNS - DNS - 20
Super League Triathlon Malibu Points
Flora Duffy 20
Georgia Taylor Brown 18
Katie Zaferes 16
Jessica Learmonth 14
Cassandre Beaugrand 12
Leonie Periault 10
Non Stanford 9
Taylor Spivey 8
Rachel Klamer 7
Beth Potter 6
Vicky Holland 5
Sophie Coldwell 3
Alex Yee edged Marten Van Riel by 0.2 of a second to win SLT Malibu and claim the series title.
Alex Yee’s win was his second straight photo finish victory in the SLT Series. Last weekend at SLT Jersey, Yee nipped Jonny Brownlee for the win. In this series finale, the British 23-year-old – the Olympic silver medalist – Yee topped his nearest SLT series challenger Hayden Wilde by 1.6 seconds. At the end, Yee prevailed by 59 to 54 points.
Despite taking a narrow win over Yee a week ago, Jonny Brownlee began the race at the top of the SLT series rankings over Yee - just four points separated the first four men.
Following London’s Triple Mix, Munich’s Equalizer and Jersey’s Enduro, the Malibu event witnessed the Super League’s original Eliminator format come into play for a mighty athletic showcase of resilience, stamina and velocity.
That format would see a choppy swim in the Pacific Ocean of 300m before a 4km bike leg and 1.6km run, with each race performed three times with only a short break between the events for the athletes to reset their equipment and hope to rest their aching limbs.
Southern Hemisphere triathletes Aussies Matt Hauser and Aaron Royle led the swim into T1 and Hauser won the Short Chute ahead of Royle, with France’s Vincent Luis 8 seconds back and Brownlee and Yee 20 seconds arrears.
Southern Hemisphere athletes Aussies Matt Hauser and Aaron Royle led the field into T1 and Hauser won the Short Chute ahead of Royle, with France’s Vincent Luis 8 seconds back and Brownlee and Yee 20 seconds arrears.
A twisting and technical 4km bike leg saw a large field form behind Vasco Vilaca, with the Portuguese first into transition and Belgium’s Marten Van Riel the first athlete to exit T2.
Norway’s Olympic champ Kristian Blummenfelt instantly stormed to the front – with 6 seconds over Royle and Yee at the end of Race 1, with the Eliminator taking the three slowest athletes out of contention.
Tayler Reid was first out of the water ahead of short-course stars Vincent Luis of France and Jonny Brownlee. Soon thereafter a sizeable pack formed on the bike led by Vilaca, who was the first to enter – and exit T2 – ahead of Blummenfelt and Brownlee.
In Stage 2, Blummenfelt was treating the run like a sprint for Olympic gold, 8 seconds ahead of Brownlee and the field.
With none of the overall title contenders holding Short Chutes, the championship battle was wide open. Tayler Reid, Marten Van Riel and Vincent Luis were soon leading the charge out of the water with Brownlee 5 seconds back.
Vasco Vilaca was once again leading the bike ahead of Blummenfelt and Van Riel, setting the stage for a fierce battle on the run, with Van Riel holding the Short Chute advantage.
The run was a triathletic battle at the Ok Corral. Wilde was lead at the bell ahead of Blummenfelt, with Brownlee needing to beat Wilde to take the series crown. Van Riel, the Super League Arena Games Rotterdam champion, played his Short Chute to lead with 400 meters to go. Yee and Wilde remained the only contenders for the overall.
With 100 meters to go, Yee moved into second before the final turn of the day. The race win was down to a battle between Van Riel and Yee, and it looked like Belgian until Yee surged ahead at the line and dived for another nerve-wracking victory. The stage race, the championship and a giant check was Yee’s as was an unforgettable year for the British star.
With a potential overall race payday of $1.25 million, preliminary prize allotment to Alex Yee will include: $50,000 for winning the series, two times $20,00 for winning two races, $15,000 for his share of the Team Eagles victory – at least $105,000.
Super League Triathlon Eliminator Malibu Men’s Results
Alex Yee GBR - Rank1 – Points 59 – London 11 – Munich 13 – Jersey 15 Malibu 20
Hayden Wilde NZL – Rank 2 – Points 54 – 15-12 - 13 – 14
Jonathan Brownlee GBR – Rank 3 – Points 50 - 13 – 14 – 14 – 9
Vasco Vilaca POR – Rank 4 – Points 49 – 12 – 11 – 10 – 16
Vincent Luis FRA – Rank 5 – Points 47 – 14 – 15 – 8 – 10
Marten Van Riel BEL Rank 6 – Points 39 – 0 – 9 – 12 – 18
Seth Rider USA Rank 7 – Points 26 – 10 – 2 – 9 – 5
Kenji Nener JPN – Rank 8 – Points 21 – 0 – 10 – 11 - 0
Matthew Hauser AUS – Rank 9 – Points 19 – 0 – 8 – 5 – 6
Tayler Reid NZ – Rank 10 -0 Points 17 – 2 – 0 -7 – 8
Malibu Points Results
Alex Yee GBR 20
Marten Van Riel BEL-18
Vasco Vilaca POR 16
Hayden Wilde NZL 14
Kristian Blummenfelt NOR 12
Vincent Luis NOR 10
Jonathan Brownlee GBR 9
Tayler Reid NZL 8
Gustav Iden NOR 7
Matthew Hauser AUS 6
Seth Rider USA 5
Aaron Royle AUS 4
Alessandro Fabian ITA 3
Tamas Toth HUN 2
Shachar Sagiv ISR 1
Photos courtesy Super League Triathlon