Hayden Wilde put on a tactical show to top a Championship Series podium for the first time. Coming off an Olympic medal, Wilde led his Sharks Team for an opening round win in the four four-week, back-to-back 2021 Championship Series which began in London and will continue in Munich, Jersey and Malibu.
Wilde was locked in a three-way battle with Vincent Luis and Jonny Brownlee throughout the Triple Mix format, but his early decision to go hard on the bike to earn a Short Chute bonus proved decisive as the extra seconds on the final lap of the run allowed him breathing space to take the victory.
“Vincent’s a great battler, which is why I didn’t use the Short Chute on the first leg as I knew he would’ve caught up with me,” Wilde told SLT media. “My tactics went well, and [his team] the Sharks all worked together – we were aiming to score points on the swim and the Short Chute on the bike and it worked.”
Wilde added: “I know how hard it is to beat athletes such as Alex [Yee] and Jonny [Brownlee] on home soil. I knew Jonny was going to be the man to beat as half of Leeds seemed to be here as well, so it’s awesome to beat him as he’s a legend.”
Jess Learmonth took the overall win in the frenetic Triple Mix format of the Super League Triathlon in London, ahead of fellow Brits Georgia Taylor-Brown and Vicky Holland.
The women’s Triple Mix came down to a Stage 3 showdown between the British stars, with Learmonth using her swim prowess to create an insurmountable advantage heading into the final run of the day.
The event also saw the start of Super League’s fresh team format, with multinational squads of Sharks, Rhinos, Cheetahs, Scorpions and Eagles adding an extra dimension into the mix.
Stage One – Men
300m swim / 4km bike / 1.6km run
Swim: Matt Hauser led and scored points for self and Scorpion team
Bike: Hayden Wilde of NZL led Jonny Brownlee at the bell before final lap. When Hauser suffered a puncture, Wilde took the points and short chute advantage into Stage 3.
Run: Vincent Luis took lead of 1.6km run. Brownlee was following close behind, only to have Vasco Vilaca of Portugal and Wilde cross the line first in double result for the Sharks.
Run 1.6km / Bike 4km / Swim 300 meter
Run: Alex Yee grabbed the lead on the run, crossing the mount line first ahead of Wilde, Jacob Birtwhistle and Jonny Brownlee.
Bike: Wilde led the bike followed by a pack of nine.
Luis charged first into the water. then battled with Brownlee and edging the Englishman to the Stage Two finish line.
4km bike / 300-meter swim / 1.6km Run
Bike: Luis started at the front of Stage 3 bike one second ahead of Brownlee, with Wilde 8 seconds back. Wilde then charged Luis and Brownlee, with Vilaca using a tremendous transition to join the winning mix.
Swim: Luis led Brownlee out, a move reminiscent of Super League Mallorca 2018 with Wilde remaining in close contact with leaders at end of 300m.
Run: At the bell of two-lap 1.6 km run, Wilde joined his two rivals using his Short Chute bonus short cut and taking lead at start of final lap. Wilde then made clear daylight which was enough for the Shark to secure gold ahead of famous rivals Luis and Brownlee. Vilaca, 21, was 4th on a good day for his Sharks teammates.
Men’s Points leaderboard at end of Round One:
Hayden Wilde: 15
Vincent Luis: 14
Jonny Brownlee: 13
Vasco Vilaca: 12
Alex Yee: 11
Seth Rider: 10
Jacob Birtwhistle: 9
Sachar Sagiv: 8
Alessandro Fabian: 7
Aaron Royle: 6
Stage One – Women
Stage One – Women
300m swim / 4km bike / 1.6km run
The SLT Arena Games Rotterdam 2020 champion was again in winning form and was cheered to victory by a huge home crowd, just weeks after her Olympic gold medal-winning heroics as part of Great Britain’s Mixed Relay team.
She said: “At the end of Stage 2, I actually briefly started to regret coming! It was so hard and boiling hot that it was horrendous, especially on the run course and its cobbles.
“I was hoping for the best on some of the bike leg’s tight corners, and I think I took too many risks. It was carnage out there. “But I think I loosened up on the final swim and gave my legs a rest, and I’m now looking forward to the next few weekends.”
Learmonth finished just ahead of fellow Mixed Relay gold medalist and close friend Georgia Taylor-Brown, who crashed during the bike leg on Stage 2 of the Triple Mix.
“It’s a great course and was so nice to have crowds again,” said Taylor-Brown. “The crash was my fault as I didn’t take my feet out of my shoes very well, I just needed to make it back to transition with all my equipment!”
Rio Olympic bronze medalist Vicky Holland rounded out the British women’s podium and admitted she had even considered not starting.
“I was feeling unwell ahead of the race and even discussed dropping with my Eagles coach Tim Don, so I’m really happy with my result. I couldn’t have done any better racing against Jess and Georgia, who are always amazing performers, and to have a British clean sweep and points for the Eagles was great.”
The 1.6km run kicked off Stage 2, with Vicky Holland and Beth Potter continuing their fine run form from Stage 1 and instantly controlling the tempo. Zaferes was soon making her presence felt, as was French triathlete Leonie Periault (fifth at Tokyo 2020) who’d take the lead from Zaferes and cross the mount line first on the bike.
As with the Stage 1 run, Georgia Taylor-Brown was straight to the front on the 4km bike. Yet the chase pack led by Zaferes closed the gap to Taylor-Brown by the bell for the final lap, with Holland, Learmonth and Periault in close pursuit. Taylor-Brown, having punctured at the Olympics, crashed unclipping her foot ahead of transition, missing the lead pack in the swim.
Stage 2’s swim saw Taylor-Brown enter the water 11 seconds behind the lead pack, with Zaferes taking advantage and leading at the front with Learmonth as both eyed the Stage 2 victory. Learmonth edged Zaferes to the Stage 2 win, followed by Periault, Holland, Kingma and then Taylor-Brown.
Eagles teammates Learmonth and Holland surged to the front of the all-important final bike leg, creating a significant advantage over the formidable running legs of Taylor-Brown. Taylor-Brown was chasing hard and at one stage overcooked a corner and came off the course. Learmonth entered transition just ahead of Holland, with Taylor-Brown pushing from behind.
Onto the 300m swim and Learmonth, one of triathlon’s greatest swimmers, powered to the front to create a clear advantage over Holland that would be extended to 17secs by transition.
Learmonth led for the entirety of the final 1.6km run, with Taylor-Brown running her way back into second and Holland holding off Zaferes in the battle for third. Coldwell rounded out the top five on a good day for the Brits on home soil. Learmonth’s Stage 3 win would see her take the overall title and her new Super League team, the Eagles, surge to the top of the standings.
Women’s Leaderboard after Round 1
Jessica Learmonth: 15
Georgia Taylor-Brown: 14
Vicky Holland: 13
Katie Zaferes: 12
Sophie Coldwell: 11
Taylor Spivey: 10
Beth Potter: 9
Leonie Periault: 8
Maya Kingma: 7
Cassandre Beaugrand: 6
Super League Triathlon Teams:
Manager: Tim Don
Members: Alex Yee, Jelle Geens
Women: Georgia Taylor Brown, Vicky Holland, Jessica Learmonth
Manager Ronnie Schildknecht
Men: Marten Van Riel, Jannik Schaufler, Jacob Birtwhistle Kenji Nener
Women: Katie Zaferes, Yuko Takahashi, Rachel Klamer, Valerie Barthelmy
Manager: Chris McCormack
Vincent Luis, Mario Mola, Shachar Sagiv, Matt Hauser
Cassandre Beaugrand, Georgia Taylor-Brown,
Manager: Michele Dillon
Beth Potter, Carolina Routier, Non Stanford,
Hayden Wilde, Tayler Reid, Vasco Vilaca
Manager: Annie Emmerson
Sophie Coldwell, Maya Kingma, Leonie Periault, Anna Godoy
Jonny Brownlee, Aaron Royle, Tamas, Tyler Mislawchuk