It was another vintage day for French triathlon on Saturday afternoon, this time in the north of England, as Pierre Le Corre won his long-awaited first Series gold at the end of a thrilling sprint finish with teammate Leo Bergere. It had been a gripping final lap of the 5km run with Hayden Wilde as the three went about trying to outdo eachother, the New Zealander first to drop as the tricolor powered to the tape.
“I didn’t have a good start to the day, the swim was not my best,” admitted Le Corre, ‘then I had to bridge the gap to the first group. On the bike I felt great, I thought that this was going to be a good day for me. I train with Leo all the summer, and we have a special ‘Hayden Wilde’ training session – we have trained for this situation, so we knew when we should attack him. We played his game and it worked. I have been waiting five years for this (first ever WTCS victory), so I am really happy today!”
Knee-deep water start
The sun was out on the sprint-distance Sunderland course, but the wind was whipping up across the 14C North Sea and it was a knee-deep water start for the 59 men after the tide had washed pebbles up the beach.
Wilde and Vilaca took to the far side of the start, Bergere and Schomburg to the right, a 750m swim towards Sunderland lighthouse ahead. It looked like things had strung out at the final buoy, Bergere and Briffod staying close to Chase McQueen and Diego Moya up front, Wilde and Vilaça 14 seconds back, Mario Mola just 20 seconds back as they hit the beach.
Schomburg was soon pushing the bike with Series debutant GB’s Max Stapley, Wilde heading up the chase group 20 seconds back with Le Corre and Vilaca, Manoel Messias and Mola suddenly almost a minute off the front.
Bergere leads breakaway
At the bell, just as the chasers were finally closing and had been seen to reel in the leaders, Bergere, Batista and Reid broke away and suddenly had daylight behind them, ramping the gap up to 10 seconds by the time they hit T2. Batista then missed his bike rack and lost precious time, Wilde earning four seconds back on Bergere thanks to another fluid transition and he was soon reeling in the Frenchman and then out on his own up front once more.
After building a useful gap over the first kilometre, Le Corre and Bergere then quickly regrouped and worked together to put their training plan into action, winding in Wilde and setting up a three-way finale, Vilaca 11 seconds back with Henri Schoeman, Vetle Bergsvik Thorn 25 seconds back and Richard Murray picking his way through the field.
Le Corre made an effort to hurt his rivals on the final climb at the start of lap two but the elastic didnt break then Bergere hit the front and then he and Le Corre finally dropped Wilde down the hill to the blue carpet, Bergere ahead by a length only to see Le Corre surge past at the tape to record a famous first win, Vilaca over in fourth, Richard Murray in fifth.
Full results can be found here.