The first ITU World Cup contested in an innovative semifinals and finals format was highlighted by a French podium sweep and Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle out-dueling a surprising threat for the title.
In a tight battle for gold, Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) claimed her second career World Cup title with a win at the Tiszaujvaros ITU Triathlon World Cup. Maaike Caelers (NED), who collected silver, pushed Gentle to the end, giving the crowd an exciting finish.
Annamaria Mazzetti (ITA) rounded out the top three, but not without a fight from Charlotte McShane (AUS).
The excitement in Tiszaujvaros began Saturday with the women’s semifinals. The top 25 women across two waves advanced to finals on Sunday. The athletes completed the same three-lap 750m swim, but encountered a new six-lap 20km bike and three-lap 5km race the second day of competition.
“I think its a really good idea,” Gentle said. “I think everyone was a little tired out there. But I had lots of fun. I didn’t really know what to expect.”
On the 5km run course, Gentle’s quest for the lead was answered by Caelers, who also had a monster first lap. Together, the women ran shoulder-to-shoulder, followed by the pair of Mazzetti and McShane.
Gentle found the energy to dash ahead of Caelers in the final meters of the last lap, leaving no time to slow for a celebratory finish. Gentle shot forward to and stopped the clock at 58 minutes, 40 seconds, while Caelers crossed three seconds later. It was the first World Cup podium of Caelers’ career.
“It was a really hard fought battle to be honest,” Gentle said, who also recorded the fastest run splits of the day. “I was trying to shake her, but she was relentless and stuck by my side. I’m lucky I had that little bit extra at the end.”
The day belonged to France in the men’s race, as they controlled the course from start to finish in the finals of the Tiszaujvaros ITU Triathlon World Cup. Aurelien Raphael opened the day with the fastest swim, while teammate Pierre Le Corre closed it out for his first ITU World Cup victory.
Le Corre crossed over the finish line first, followed shortly thereafter by Raphael and Anthony Pujades for a French sweep of the podium.
“We are very glad to win today,” Le Corre said. “The French team on the podium, it’s fantastic.”
Swift swimmer Raphael, who posted the top swim time in semifinals on Saturday, again set the pace on the swim, leading his teammates out of the water first. Pujades and Le Corre were not far behind, sitting in second and fifth, respectively.
The trio hopped on their bikes and, alongside Russians Igor Polyanskiy and Andrey Bryukhankov, immediately created a breakaway lead group of ten men. By the second lap, the pack had earned themselves a 41-second advantage. Throughout the next three laps, the leaders managed to hammer out a minute lead by the bell lap.
“I felt fantastic today,” Le Corre said. “We worked very well on the bike. We wanted to break away on the bike and we did. We pushed hard on the swim, the French team did. So it was a good race.”
Le Corre coasted into first with a time of a time of 51 minutes, 54 seconds. Raphael slowed behind him to drape the French flag around him before clocking in at 52 minutes, 5 seconds. Pujades was next, scoring bronze and his first career ITU World Cup podium, five seconds behind Raphael.
Complete men’s results.