Championship Finale | Day 1 | Men’s Eliminator | 23.2.19
Soon after the women’s race, it was time for the men to take centre stage and tackle the Eliminator format! The Eliminator is a savage format with three rounds of SWIM-BIKE-RUN, with a 10-minute break in between. Between each round, athletes are eliminated if they do not finish high enough up the order or fall too far behind.
The men’s field lined up at 17:00, with each athlete being led out to the field by a local school child.
The athletes hit the water for Round 1, and the racing was intense from the start. The fight for a prime position in the water was ruthless, but it was Matt Hauser who led into transition, closely followed by Tommy Zaferes.
It was the first lap of the bike where the drama really began, where series leader Vincent Luis picked up a puncture and lost precious time to the rest of the field. As he set off on the run, his partner, Taylor Spivey, appeared in transition to fix the issue. Unfortunately, it was to no avail as Luis was unable to bridge the gap to the main field and ended up being eliminated at the end of the first round.
Jonas Schomburg took the tape in round one, followed home by Henri Schoeman and Jonny Brownlee respectively.
- Jonas Schomburg
- Henri Schoeman
- Jonny Brownlee
10 mins of recovery later and it was time for Round 2. The athletes had to put the drama of the last round out of their minds and focus on the objective in hand. Schoeman was first into transition with Zaferes again just behind the swim leader.
A large group formed on the bike with no one able to break away, but it was Hayden Wilde that was first off the bike and out onto the run. At this point, it became clear that Léo Bergere had forgotten to put his running shoes on and was running barefoot.
Just before the end of the second lap, Richard Murray put in a big dig to take the tape and a confidence boost going into Round 3.
“Perhaps Murray attacked at the end to prove a point and arouse a sense of panic on the field.” Katie Zaferes
- Richard Murray
- Henri Schoeman
- Jonny Brownlee
After the confidence Murray may have gained with his victory in Round 2, Round 3 couldn’t have started worse for the South African. As the gun went off, he stumbled and accidently fell off the pontoon, picking up a time penalty in the process, which he would serve at the end of the swim.
Schoeman was first into transition and off on the bike; a group formed behind him and the race was on. Could they reel in the championship contender, or was he out in the wind?
The race came back together on the fourth lap with Hayden Wilde leading the race off the bike. Schoeman had a fast transition though and was first out on the run.
Initially, it looked like Schoeman would run away with the victory, but it soon became clear that the win was up for grabs. Wilde was the first to attack before Brownlee put in a dig of his own. Tyler Mislawchuk was able to follow and looked to be ghosting Brownlee for a sprint, but Brownlee wasn’t finished. He knew Mislawchuk could probably take him in the sprint, so he went long. Brownlee stretched the lead until he knew he had it and started celebrating as he entered the finish chute.
It was an emotional finish for the Brit as he announced his return from a troubled 2018 in the best way possible.
“That last race was one of the easiest I did, I felt good, I felt in control, it shows what I can do after a couple of months of decent training. It’s nice to be back.”
The implications of Luis getting one point from his first day’s racing leave the championship wide open. The rest of the men’s field will go to bed tonight knowing that their chances of SLT immortality have just got that little bit more real.
Results – Men’s Eliminator, Final Standings
- Jonny Brownlee GBR
- Tyler Mislawchuk CAN
- Hayden Wilde NZL