For the second year in a row, Bermuda proved the perfect race for earning debut WTS golds. Last year it was Norwegian Casper Stornes who surprised everyone by claiming the title, an honour that this time went to Frenchman Dorien Coninx, surprising all to claim his first ever World Triathlon Series win with a legend of the sport like Javier Gomez Noya claiming silver and the Norwegian Gustav Iden repeating the third place that he got 12 months ago.
“I am really happy”, said a delighted Coninx after crossing the finish line. “Especially because after Abu Dhabi I was a bit disappointed, and when you start the season so badly is very hard to get over it. But I did, and during the race, I was just thinking about enjoying it”, he explained.
Things didn’t start well for the three-time World Champion and leader until today Mario Mola (ESP) when he was trapped in a group that veered too far right on the first lap of the swim, losing precious time. On the other end of the choppy waters of the Atlantic Ocean, his training partner Vincent Luis (FRA) stretched the field from the first strokes and opened a gap that proved to be decisive.
Luis was followed closed by some other really strong swimmers, including Henri Schoeman (RSA), Alois Knabl (AUT), Aaron Royle (AUS) and Igor Polyanskiy (RUS), but two legends in the form of Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) and Javier Gomez Noya (ESP) were keeping a close eye on them and not letting them go. By the end of the 1500m swim, Luis was still leading, but the gap was almost non-existent, and a long queue of athletes formed behind him.
The Frenchman knew that getting out on the bike first would be really important on a course as tough as this, and he delivered. Luis pushed hard from the first metres of the first lap, to be followed by another 20 men pushing to break away, knowing that the famous Norwegian trio was in the pursuing group, and would do whatever it took to catch them.
For four laps out of the ten, Luis, Brownlee, Gomez Noya, Marten Van Riel (BEL), Henri Schoeman (RSA) and Antonio Serrat Seoane (ESP) took turns to lead up the infamous Corkscrew Hill, but the difference with the chasers, led by the Norwegians, grew smaller lap by lap. More than a minute behind them was Mola, not used to finding himself so far off the leaders.
Sensing that the Series leader was out of the game, the leaders and the first chase group, which included Kristian Blummenfelt, Gustav Iden and Casper Stornes (NOR), amongst others, kept pushing to close the gap, helped by Fernando Alarza (ESP), Hayden Wilde (NZL) and Bence Bicsák (HUN).
By the end of the seventh lap, both groups had merged into a huge pack of 33 riders, with almost all the big names - except Mola and Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS) - right there. Just when it looked like the large group was going to try to save some energy for the run, which could also be a bit of a break for Mola - now almost two minutes behind -, Jonas Schomburg (GER), Jorik Van Egdom (NED) and Dorian Coninx (FRA) decided to go for it and try to break away down the last kilometres of the bike course.
Schomburg, in fact, managed to arrive alone at the second transition and began the run refusing to look back, knowing that just behind him were some of the strongest runners of the field. Luis, Blummenfelt, Gomez Noya and Iden started the chase right away, and halfway through the 10km run, it looked like the medals were going to be decided among these three. But another Frenchman, Coninx, had a different idea on mind. Coming from behind, he first connected with the four leaders to quickly leave Blummenfelt and Luis a bit behind.
Gomez Noya didn’t want to wait to the final meters and did his final push maybe a bit early, enough for Coninx to pass him with 200 metres to go. Iden looked determined to improve on his third place from last year and fight for the silver, but in a final sprint, Gomez showed exactly why he is a five-time World Champion, with some titles won exactly like this: sprinting right to the end.
Luis crossed the finish line in fourth place, enough for him to claim for the moment the leadership of the Series, with Mola in one of the worst results of his WTS career, on 26th place. Blummenfelt and Pierre LeCorre (FRA) followed them, with Bicsak, Joao Pereira (POR), Alarza and Leo Bergere (FRA) finishing a top ten that included an impressive number of four Frenchmen.