With the Hamburg course shortened to a sprint distance as a preventative measure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Vincent Luis of France drew away from a three-man pack in the final 350 meters to take his second straight WTS World title. Luis finished in 49:13 with a 2 seconds margin over 20-year-old silver medalist Vasco Vilaca of Portugal and 5 seconds over fellow Frenchman and 3rd place finisher Leo Bergere.
With triathletes from New Zealand, Australia and Canada missing from the field, likely due to the short notice that Hamburg would host the World Championship 11 days before race day, Luis fought off fairly strong opposition – albeit with little time to prepare for a World Championship effort.
Luis set himself at the edge of the pontoon and launched first of 66 starters into the water. At the first turn of the 750-meter course, two-time ITU World Champion Alistair Brownlee of Great Britain and Luis were shoulder to shoulder, followed closely by Jonas Schomburg of Germany and Jonathan Brownlee. After the final 250 yards into T1, Alistair Brownlee and Luis led up the steps into T2 at 8:25 and 8:27 with Jelle Geens of Belgium, Richard Murray of South Africa and Alex Yee of Great Britain 14 seconds back and Kristian Blummenfelt of Norway another 7 seconds arrears.
Alistair Brownlee took an early lead on the bike, quickly caught by his brother and the French trio of Luis, Bergere and Dorian Coninx. Trailing by 18 seconds, Vilaca pushed hard to catch the leaders with Germany’s Justin Nieschlag and Hungary’s Mark Devay close behind.
Alistair Brownlee led the field into T2, but due to his 65th start position and a much longer run from his position on the bike rack, Vilaca and Bergere were already ahead. On the first lap, Luis joined the leading duo while Brownlee fell back into a pack with his brother, Jelle Geens of Belgium and Blummenfelt.
With 1500 meters to go, Luis, Bergere and Vilaca maintained a 13 seconds lead on the chasers as Geens of Belgium and Alex Yee of Great Britain tried to bridge the gap but failed to make a dent. With 350 meters to go, Luis inexorably drew away to a winning gap while Vilaca edged Bergere for the silver.
While Luis, Vilaca and Bergere made their podium moves on the swim and bike, they were pursued by faster runners who could not erase the gap. Luis finished with a 5th-best 14:38 5k. Geens ran a second-best 14:29 split to finish 4th, 4 seconds behind Bergere. Alex Yee ran a race-best 14:24 to finish 5th, 2 seconds behind Geens. Coninx, Murray, Morgan Pearson of the U.S., Alistair Brownlee (14:59 run) and Max Studer of Switzerland filled out the top 10.
“I knew I was in good shape and I’ve spent the last six weeks doing a lot of sessions with some of the best guys in the world,” Luis told ITU media. “I swam good and when you have the two Brownlee brothers with you, you always have a good chance to get away. I had the two young guys with me on the run so I was a bit scared but pushed the pace with one lap to go. I’m so happy for Leo that he took the third spot. That was a great race for France.”
“I don’t know where that came from," said Vilaca, who was a surprise silver medalist in just his second WTS race. “I’m 20 years old, and it’s a dream to race here with these guys. I was well prepared but didn’t really expect to be in the top three. I’ve been working so hard on my swim and I worked hard to catch up with the first group on the bike and was able to keep up the pace on the run. Running like that with Vincent and Leo there was absolutely beautiful.”
Bergere celebrated his first WTS podium, but gave a respectful nod to athletes who were not able to make trip to Germany. “We don’t forget our rivals in Australia and New Zealand and there’ll be work to do to beat them next year,” he said. “But I’m so glad how it went. It’s great to share the podium with my good friend Vince and a pure talent like Vasco.”
WTS Hamburg – World Championship
September 5, 2020
S 750m / B 20k / R 5k
1. Vincent Luis (FRA) S 8:27 T1 1:03 B 24:36 T2 0:30 R 14:38 TOT 49:13
2. Vasco Vilaca (POR) S 8:31 T1 1:07 b 24:28 T2 0:30 R 14:42 TOT 49:15
3. Leo Bergere (FRA) S 8:30 T1 1:03 B 24:34 T2 00:27 R 14:46 TOT 49:18
4. Jelle Geens (BEL) S 8:40 T1 1:05 B 24:42 T2 00:28 R 14:29 TOT 49:22
5. Alex Yee (GBR) S 8:39 T1 1:13 B 24:37 T2 00:32 R 14:24 TOT 49:24
6. Dorian Coninx (FRA) S 8:29 T1 1:05 B 24:34 T2 00:29 R 14:52 TOT 49:27
7. Richard Murray (RSA) S 8:40 T1 1:01 B 24:47 T2 00:28 R 14:34 TOT 49:28
8. Morgan Pearson (USA) S 8:31 T1 1:07 B 24:56 T2 00:32 R 14:27 TOT 49:32
9. Alistair Brownlee (GBR) S 8:25 T1 1:02 B 24:41 T2 00:29 R 14:59 TOT 49:34
10. Max Studer (SUI) S 8:53 T1 1:09 B 24:32 T2 00:31 R 14:40 TOT 49:42
11. Gustav Iden (NOR) S 9:00 T1 1:07 B 24:20 T2 00:32 R 14:46 TOT 49:43
13. Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR S 8:46 T1 1:07 B 24:32 T2 00:30 R 14:57 TOT 49:51
18. Kevin McDowell (USA) S 8:42 T1 1:04 B 24:44 T2 00:31 R 15:02 TOT 50:02
27. Fernando Alarza (ESP) S 8:34 T1 1:10 B 24:50 T2 00:33 R 15:19 TOT 50:25
31. Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) S 8:28 T1 1:03 B 24:40 T2 00:29 R 15:57 TOT 50:35
33. Matthew McElroy (USA) 8:41 T1 1:04 B 25:24 T2 00:29 R 14:59 TOT 50:36
39. Seth Rider (USA) S 8:45 T1 1:12 B 24:31 T2 00:30 R 16:25 TOT 51:21
46. Mario Mola (ESP) S 8:46 T1 1:03 B Vilaca 24:41 T2 00:34 R 16:52 TOT 51:54
48. Eli Hemming (USA) S 8:54 T1 1:08 B 26:11 T2 00:29 R 15:27 TOT 52:08