French ITU dominator Vincent Luis wrapped up his remarkable 2020 season with another World Cup victory at Valencia, Spain. Today's win comes following his 2019 ITU World Championship in Lausanne last August, and taking 2020’s single-race WTS World Championship at Hamburg (due to COVID-19) in September.
Facing his strongest competition in the 2020 season, Luis edged two-time Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee of Great Britain by 3 seconds in a sprint distance contest on a pancake flat Formula One circuit.
Once again on form in the swim, Luis led the swim for the fourth straight race, followed closely by Brownlee, Henri Schoeman of South Africa and Pierre Le Corre of France. Starting the bike with a small break on the field, the small pack was followed closely by three Norwegians – Kristian Blummenfelt, Gustav Iden and Endre Espedal – and pursued by a second chase group including Jelle Geens of Belgium, Roberto Sanchez Mantecon of Spain and Alessandro Fabian of Italy.
By the end of the 20 kilometer bike leg, Schoeman fell back and Luis, Brownlee and Le Corre opened a 30 seconds lead on the pursuers.
While Brownlee and Luis soon separated from Le Corre, Geens charged his way to close up to the leading duo. Soon thereafter on the run, Luis and Brownlee ran shoulder to shoulder until the last meters, when Luis finished off his second-best 14:33 run with a 3 seconds margin over Brownlee. After his sizzling race-best 14:27 charge, Geens finished 3rd, just 11 seconds behind the winner.
“Four races so far and four wins and this one was the hardest I have to say,” Luis told ITU media. “Alistair was the strongest of us in the front of the bike. I just managed to tactically get to him but he could have won this race. A few more races under his belt, he could have won for sure.”
Luis analyzed his race and added: “It was a pretty hard ride and that is what Alistair wanted, to make it hard for us so we run a bit slower. On the run, I just took the lead and not really try to think. I knew Jelle was really close and I just ran all out for the run.”
Brownlee was enthused with his second place. “I feel like I am in my second career at the moment and I am just doing it because I enjoy doing it,” Brownlee told ITU media. “It’s been a long project. Two years ago, I was pretty close to retiring to be honest. Slowly but surely I have picked my races, got fitter and enjoyed it more. Today I was back racing with the best in the world again. I’ve just got to keep the consistency through the next few months and hopefully I can come out next year and be even a little bit better.”
Geens and Le Corre fought a fierce duel for third place as the Belgian caught Le Corre halfway through the final lap. With a few meters to go, Geens sprinted to grab his second third place of the season. “Off the bike I saw it wasn’t a big gap, I just had to go full and go for the win,” said Geens. “You know Vince always has a sprint and Alistair is, well just Alistair, so I am happy with third place. It was quite a good season, didn’t get a win but we keep that for next year.”
Valencia World Cup
November 7, 2020
S 750m / B 20k / R 5k
1. Vincent Luis (FRA) S 8:26 T1 00:47 B 26:14 T2 00:22 R 14:33 TOT 50:22
2. Alistair Brownlee (GBR) S 8:28 T1 00:46 B 26:12 T2 00:24 R 14:35 TOT 50:25
3. Jelle Geens (BEL) S 8:46 T1 00:47 B 26:15 T2 00:18 R 14:27 TOT 50:33
4. Pierre Le Corre (FRA) S 8:29 T1 00:48 B 26:11 T2 00:18 R 14:51 TOT 50:37
5. Antonio Serrat Seoane (ESP) S 8:58 T1 00:51 B 26:02 T2 00:18 R 50:45
6. Shachar Sagiv (ISR) S 8:54 T1 00:49 B 26:05 T2 00:21 R 14:38 TOT 50:47
7. Gustav Iden (NOR) S 9:01 T1 00:47 B 25:59 T2 00:22 R 14:39 TOT 50:48
8. Roberto Sanchez Mantecon (ESP) S 9:05 T1 00:47 B 25:56 T2 00:20 R 14:41 TOT 50:49
9. Gianluca Pozzatti (ITA) S 8:38 T1 00:46 B 26:24 T2 00:22 R 14:45 TOT 50:55
10. Manoel Messias (BRA) S 8:59 T1 00:54 B 25:58 T2 00:23 R 14:56 TOT 51:10
12. Tony Smoragiewicz (USA) S 8:56 T1 00:52 B 26:04 T2 00:21 R 15:11 TOT 51:24
27. Austin Hindman (USA) S 8:56 T1 00:52 B 27:37 T2 00:22 R 15:07 TOT 52:54
35. Darr Smith (USA) S 8:55 T1 0:55 B 27:36 T2 00:21 R 16:03 TOT 53:50