Norway and the Netherlands seal the deal in Huatulco and qualify a Team for Paris24

17 May, 2024 | español

Norway and the Netherlands seal the deal in Huatulco and qualify a Team for Paris24

Team Norway -Vetle Bergsvik Thorn, Lotte Miller,, Casper Stornes and Solveig Løvseth- executed their race plan to perfection to take the tape at the 2024 Huatulco World Triathlon Mixed Relay Olympic Qualifier, securing their team a spot on the Mixed Relay race at the Olympics this summer. The Netherlands made a remarkable comeback in the last leg to take the second place and the final spot to the Olympic Games for the Mixed Relay. On the bitter side of the story, Team Hungary came home with a creditable third place, but just missed out on qualification.

Nine team lined up in the Chahué bay beach, in Huatulco, knowing that the best two on the day will get an automatic ticket for their team for the Paris 24 Olympics, as well as two men and two women on the individual races. And that meant a lot for some of the countries toeing the start line today, since they had not qualified a Team -or two men and two women- through the individual rankings. This is the case for Hungary -they have three men and one woman qualified as of today-; Norway -two men and one woman as of today-; South Africa -two men and one woman qualified-; Netherlands -two women and one man qualified-; Canada -one woman, two men qualified-; and Ecuador -only one female qualified-. For other countries, like Mexico, Spain and Austria, they already have two men and two women relatively secured on the start lists in Paris.

With the Olympic qualification in mind, it was Jamie Riddle (RSA) who led the small group of nine athletes out of the water. The young South African, one of the best open water swimmers in the circuit, navigated extremely well the swallow waters at the end of the 300m swim and started the long run to transition in the lead, but with Mitch Kolkman (NED), Vettle Thorn (NOR) and Brock Hoel (CAN) shoulder to shoulder with him. Bence Bicsak (HUN), though, struggled to get out of the water as the strong current pulled him in when he was trying to stand up to start running, losing some seconds that proved to be precious as he lost contact with the lead group.

Riddle, Kolkman, Thorn and Hoel jumped on their bikes and started pushing hard to try to open a break, until at the beginning of the second lap the South African hit a manhole and crashed, putting a sad end to South African hopes to qualify the team for Paris. The other three managed to stay away of trouble and together they went on the run, with Hoel tagging his teammate Sophia Howell in first place, followed closely by Team Norway.

And it was when Howell and Miller were running to the beach when the drama of the Mixed Relays when into full scene. Howell, running in front of everyone, took a wrong turn and entered the water through the swim exit, an involuntary action that will end up costing Team Canada being disqualified for not following the prescribed course, even though they continued in the race and eventually crossed the line in fifth place.

Howell and Millner got on their bikes together, opening a significant gap with Barbara De Koning (NED), that had to ride solo and run solo. Behind her, Karolina Helga Horváth (HUN), Sara Guerrero Manso (ESP) and Julia Hauser (AUT) where in chase mood, getting closer and closer by the minute.

Millner, for whom qualifying the team will mean a ticket to the Games for herself -she is ranked 121 on the Olympic rankings, therefore eligible- gave it all on the bike and run to tagg Casper Stornes on the lead, and the second Norwegian man also delivered, despite doing solo all his leg. He exited the choppy water on the lead, and managed to open a few seconds break with Mathis Beaulieu and almost one minute ahead of Richard Murray (NED), who managed to stay solo on the bike but had to fight hard to keep the third place on the run, with Csongor Lhemann (HUN) and Pelayo Gonzalez Turrez (ESP) approaching quickly, both of them setting the fastest splits of the day.

All the pressure was put on Solveig Lovseth (NOR) for the last leg, knowing that she would have to be by herself for the 300m swim, 6.8km bike and 1.8km run to cross the finish line in first place, guaranteeing Norway a Team at the Paris 2024 Olympics. And she did deliver. The young norwegian put her head down as soon as she was out of the water, showing once again that she is one of the most powerful bikers on the circuit. Behind her, a hopeless Desirae Ridenour (CAN) was trying her best to stay as close to her wheel as she could, but on the second lap of the bike she was chased first by Zsanett Kuttor-Bragmayer (HUN) and then by Rachel Klamer (NED).

Lovseth started the run one minute ahead of Kuttor-Bragmayer, a difference that proved to be too much for the chasers. Never looking back and cheered by her teammates as she passed through transition for the last lap, she crossed the finish line in happy tears to be hugged by her three teammates that made the Olympic dream for team Norway come true. “We really wanted to win, and is even more special to do it today, May 17, which is the Norway’s National Day”, said Lovseth. “We’ve been working for this since the last Olympics. It was a close call, the last shot we had, but we delivered” explained Thorn. “Today we felt in control from the first leg on the bike. I managed to stay out of trouble when Jamie (Riddle) crashed and pushed really hard and we all delivered today, Im really proud of the team”, he said.

Team Norway seems to have found a line-up that has put them in contention when it comes to the relays, having won gold at the European Games Mixed Relay, and a bronze medal in Sunderland Mixed Relay Series last year. “Conditions like this make it even better for us, and we are now so estable all of us, that we can race really well together”, explained Miller. “This was our race to lose today but we nailed it”, she finished.

With a magnificent sprint, Rachel Klamer passed Kuttor-Bragmayer with only 500m to go and was crying when crossing the finish line, also knowing that her second place today will mean that the Dutch Team will be able to race at the Olympics. “It hasn’t sunk in yet”, said Richard Murray on the finish line. But what a team we have. This was a crazy race, we went up and down. We were in 6th place at some point and here we are, we managed to get second due to the amazing team effort”.

“I have to say that when we were 4th or 5th and I was waiting for my leg, I cried. The pressure was so high that I was not sure that what I could do. But thanks to the girls that helped me get back together, and I fought hard until the end. And it paid off!”, said Klamer. The Dutch team, though, will need to have two female and two male eligible for the Games before the end of the Olympic qualification period, on May 27, so it is key for them that Mitch Kolkman, currently ranked 146, gets enough points on the individual race this Sunday to secure the spot for the team. Otherwise, the spot will roll down to the third team on the line today, Hungary.

And Hungary was indeed the face of disappointment today, with Kuttor-Bragmayer crossing the finish line exhausted knowing that the last spot on the podium was not enough to secure the team a start on the Olympics Mixed Relay. “I just didn’t have the extra gear to keep up with the pace on the run, but I gave it all”, explained Zsanett. “We can all be really proud of our performance today”, said Csongor Lehmann. “It was not this time for us but the chance will come for us in the future”, he said.

Maria Casals Mojica had a splendid run -second fastest split of the day- that put Team Spain on a brilliant fourth place, while Lisa Perterer put Team Austria on the fifth place and Team Mexico closed the table on sixth place.

event website

2024 World Triathlon Mixed Relay Olympic Qualification Event Huatulco

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