Races › Championship › London
5 Sep 2021
4 min read
Championship ○ London
Super League Triathlon returned to London in barnstorming fashion, with New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde storming ahead of tri superstars Jonny Brownlee and Vincent Luis on the final discipline of the day to take the Championship title.
After relentless racing in Stages 1&2, the men’s Triple Mix came down to a Stage 3 showdown between Hayden Wilde of New Zealand and two of triathlon’s biggest names in France’s Vincent Luis and Jonny Brownlee of Great Britain. And yet the 22-year-old Kiwi would produce a statement victory, utilising the Super League’s unique Short Chute element to create a winning advantage on the final run of the day.
Under sun-kissed September skies and in front of packed grandstands in West India Quay in London’s docklands area, the world’s fastest male triathletes converged for Super League’s return to outdoor racing following the success of the Arena Games in 2020 and 2021.
The unique Triple Mix format involved three triathlon events run back-to-back. It started with a 300m swim/4km bike/1.6km run, before Stage 2’s 1.6km run/4km bike/300m swim, and Stage 3’s 4km bike/300m swim/1.6km run.
Much like the women’s event just before it, the field was crammed with the world’s fastest male triathletes. This included Tokyo Olympic medallists Alex Yee and Jonny Brownlee, as well as short-course mainstay Vincent Luis of France and a host of rising triathlon stars.
The event would also see the birth of Super League’s new team format, with multinational squads of Sharks, Rhinos, Cheetahs, Scorpions, and Eagles adding an extra level of excitement to the already enthralling concept.
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The first action of the men’s event was the 300m swim in the dock, with Portugal’s Vasco Vilaca the only athlete not wearing a wetsuit in contrast to the women’s race. The swim saw Aussie aquatic powerhouse Matt Hauser exit the swim first to score points for his Scorpions team.
Onto the 4km bike and New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde led home favourite, Jonny Brownlee, at the bell for the final lap, as Hauser suffered with a puncture. Wilde would take the points and the Short Shoot advantage into Stage 3.
France’s Super League star Vincent Luis took to the front of the 1.6km run with Brownlee battling behind, only for Vasco Vilaca of Portugal and Wilde to cross the line first in a double result for the Sharks.
Arguably triathlon’s best short-course runner Alex Yee took control on Stage 2’s opening run, crossing the mount line first ahead of Wilde, Aussie Jacob Birtwhistle and Brownlee.
Led by Wilde, a group of five initially controlled the pace on the bike, but that would become 10 by the closing laps and Luis would be first into the water. The Frenchman battled with Brownlee at the pointy end of the swim, a familiar sight to triathlon fans over the past decade, with Luis edging Brownlee to Stage 2’s finish line.
Luis started the deciding Stage 3 just 1sec ahead of Brownlee, while 8secs further back would be Wilde. The athletes wearing their swim caps under their bike helmets was a sure sign of how every second counts in Super League. Wilde soon put in a mammoth effort, with the Shark reeling in his prey Luis and Brownlee even without the benefit of drafting. The three would enter transition together.
After a sneaky move between the bike racks in transition, Luis entered the water first ahead of Wilde and Brownlee, with Vilaca utilising a fantastic transition to add his name into the winning mix. Luis led Brownlee out in memories of Super League Mallorca 2018, with Wilde remaining in close contact with the leaders at the end of the 300m.
Onto the bell of the two-lap 1.6km run and Wilde was with his rivals, utilising his Short Chute to perfection and taking the lead at the start of the final lap. The New Zealander created clear daylight and it was enough for Shark to secure gold ahead of his famous rivals Luis and then Brownlee. Vilaca, 21, was fourth in a good day for the Sharks and the rising stars of triathlon. A changing of the guard? We’ll know more when Super League returns next weekend in Munich.
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