17 Sep 2022
5 min read
Championship ○ Latest News ○ Malibu ○ Races
#Miriam Caillas Garcia
Crashes, eliminations and a local home hero securing an emotional victory. The third stage of the 2022 Super League Triathlon Championship Series had enough drama to fill a script from nearby Hollywood.
The race witnessed America’s in-form Taylor Spivey, 31, power her way to victory, dominating the final legs of the Eliminator format as some of her race rivals tumbled on the bike leg. Spain’s Miriam Casillas Garcia would finish second overall ahead of Great Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown, who’d show true grit to run her way back onto the podium having crashed on Stage 2’s bike leg.
After impressing in the previous stages in London and Munich, Team Rhino’s Spivey went into the race as one of the outright favourites alongside Taylor-Brown, with the Californian boasting both home support and a familiarity with the Malibu location having grown up on the coast of Los Angeles.
I really wasn’t expecting the win today, but taking it on home soil was extra special. I was hoping for some good wave karma and in the last round it paid off. Catching that wave put me more in front than I expected, so I went for it to see what I could do. I knew that Georgia was capable of the win today, but I could tell was taking those corners pretty fast.Taylor Spivey
I really wasn’t expecting the win today, but taking it on home soil was extra special. I was hoping for some good wave karma and in the last round it paid off. Catching that wave put me more in front than I expected, so I went for it to see what I could do. I knew that Georgia was capable of the win today, but I could tell was taking those corners pretty fast.
Following intense races in London at the start of September and Munich’s iconic Olympiapark last weekend, the Super League juggernaut arrived in Malibu, California, and onto the famous sands of Malibu’s Zuma Beach as part of the famous celebrity-magnet that is the 2XU Malibu Triathlon.
The thrilling, cut-throat Eliminator format would be the order of the weekend, meaning three standard swim-bike-run triathlons with a short break in between. That format would see the final three athletes to finish in Stage 1 and Stage 2 eliminated, before Stage 3’s pursuit-style start based upon combined times from Stage 1 and Stage 2. Each stage consisted of a 300m one-lap swim ocean swim, a 3.6km three-lap cycle bike and a 1.6km two-lap run, with the Pacific Coast Highway as a backdrop.
Stage 1 kicked-off with a 300m sea swim in the swell of the Pacific, ensuring this was the toughest swim leg of the series as the athletes battled with the waves and chop of Zuma Beach. As the event helicoptor buzzed overhead, Aussie Emma Jeffcoat led the way for Team Scorpions. Taylor-Brown had called the swim ‘pure luck’ before the race, and that proved correct as athletes bodysurfed to the shoreline to gain the advantage into Transition One. Jeffcoat would be pipped to the T1 line by French triathlete Jeanne Lehair, fresh from a strong performance in Munich last weekend, who’d also claim the Short Chute for theRhinos.
The tough and twisting three-lap 3.6km bike course came complete with sand blowing on the asphalt and onshore winds surging through the barriers. The leg saw Lehair the first into T2, but Jess Fullagar (GB) would take the Short Chute for the Rhinos by virtue of exiting T2 first.
Taylor-Brown surged instantly to the front of the 1.6km two-lap run for the Scorpions, her elegant and seemingly effortless stride too much for the chasers. Potter and Spivey would finish second and third, respectively, in Stage 1 just 2secs behind Taylor-Brown.
Jeffcoat, who grew up on the beaches of Australia as a surf lifesaver, again led the way with Taylor-Brown on Stage 2’s swim leg. Brit Sian Rainsley caught a significant wave onto the shore, exiting the swell with Taylor-Brown and Rappaport ahead of a large chasing group. Taylor-Brown looked in command at the start of Stage 2, but that was soon flipped as the Brit, one of tri’s best bike handlers, crashed into barriers at the start of lap one, overcooking it on a corner. The crash would see her lose back skin on her leg and some 40secs in time due to her chain dropping off her bike. Team Sharks’ Beth Potter and Team Eagles’ Sian Rainsley would also crash on the same lap, the latter exiting the race. The carnage eventually saw Rappaport first into T2 with Potter and Taylor-Brown right at the back. Could they avoid elimination?
The run saw Cheetahs’ Rappaport pushing the pace, knowing that Eliminations were possible for some Super League heavyweights behind her. Displaying her Lancashire grit, Taylor-Brown and also Potter would survive the threat of elimination, but Fullagar and Jeffcoat were amongst those shown the yellow flag as Rappaport, Casillas and Spivey would claim the top spots of the stage.
The pursuit start of the third and final stage witnessed Team Rhino’s Spivey start alongside Casillas. Taylor-Brown began 22secs back and Potter 25secs in arrears. Spivey, familiar with California’s Pacific waters due to her history as a surf lifesaver, led the way and caught a wave home to extend her lead to nearly 10secs over Casillas. A winning wave? With Taylor-Brown 28secs back it looked like it.
Spivey hit the asphalt alone at the front and in control, but Taylor-Brown was soon urging Rappaport and Italy’s Verena Steinhauser to work alongside her on the bike to utilise the drafting gains. Casillas initially closed the gap to Spivey to just 2secs on the bike, but Spivey would prove dominant on the run leg, coming home 6secs ahead of Casillas and 20secs in front of Taylor-Brown to score a memorable win for the 31-year-old and her Rhinos team.
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