September 25, 2017

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The Season Ends With Super league

 

The Super League touched down in Jersey this weekend for its second installation after the inaugural event on Hamilton Island. The Super League is a new type of racing aimed at showcasing the best triathletes in the world in several unique formats, it's full of high octane racing, and perhaps bares more resemblance to a boxing match or the show gladiators than your usual triathlon. This weekend there was two days of racing, with the women and the men taking on the same format each day. The race was aired live around the world through numerous broadcasters and certainly attracted a huge audience. There were several HUUB athletes flying the flag including… Jonny Brownlee, Sophie Coldwell, Ben Dijkstra, Henri Schoeman, and Richard Varga.

The first event of the weekend was the triple mix, a mixture of three triathlons with ten minutes in between each race, however they weren’t your typical triathlons. The first race was swim-bike-run, second was run-bike-swim and it finished with a bike-swim-run. Athletes were set off in order of finish from the previous event, and also at the same time gaps. First off were the men and fairly surprising Birtwhistle (AUS) lead out the 300m swim, however over such a short distance it was really anyone's game! Brownlee (GBR) was close on his feet and overtook the Australian through transition. The 5km bike was technical with a number of dead turns and cobblestones every lap. It was a course designed for aggressive racing! The field would splinter throughout the first leg of racing and continued to split up as the racing became fast and furious. Birtwhistle, Royle (AUS) Hauser (AUS), Blummenfelt (NOR) and Murray (RSA) joined Brownlee at the front of the race, however it wasn’t until the run, that the main selection for the race was determined, and it was the WTS super stars of Brownlee, Blummenflet and Murray that forged ahead and laid the foundations of what was to be expected for the rest of the days racing.

Blummenfelt won the first leg, but Brownlee and Murray weren’t far behind. Henri Schoeman had a hard day all round, dangling halfway between the leading three and the chase group of athletes. There was a 90 second elimination rule in place for this round of racing, meaning the three leaders ruled the fate of many of the athletes struggling early on. Athletes soon began to be pulled from the race as it seemed the plan of attack from those up at the front was to race all out, all day! Schoeman made some impressive ground on the swim in the second run-bike-swim race, but with three of the worlds best triathletes working together, it looking an impossible mission for anyone to make up ground, even for the Rio Olympic bronze medallist and the current World Champion Mario Mola! The final stage of the triple mix featured a bike start and the trio that had dominated early again worked hard to extend the gap, more athletes were eliminated and the pressure on the bike caused Dijkstra to crash out. Out of the 26 athletes that took to the start line, all but 12 were eliminated, and with the accumulation of times from the three rounds, it seemed that Blummenfelt would lead into the second day, followed by Murray, Brownlee, Schoeman and Mola.

The women’s race was later in the day and coming out of the water up at the front was HUUB’s Sophie Coldwell (GBR), but unfortunately with such a short swim leg the majority of the field followed shortly. Sophie was soon joined by training partner Jodie Stimpson (GBR) and they both applied the pressure splintering the field very early on. Eventually a fairly small lead group established and, as in the men's race, many fell victim to the 90 second elimination rule. Michel (BEL), Spirig (SWI) and Zaferes (USA) eventually took the top three slots with Coldwell and others not far behind. Into leg two the field began to separate a little more, with a run to start, the three top finishers from leg one and Summer Cook (USA) got a small gap on Coldwell, Stimpson and Klamer (NED). Onto the bike it was clear that Zaferes and Spirig, known for their bike prowess were too much of a match for Cook, and they soon gapped the young American. Zaferes's impressive final swim handed her the win in the second leg, while even more of the back markers were eliminated. Into leg three and the pattern continued with Zaferes and Spirig forging ahead. Behind it was a chase for third, Coldwell tried a break on the bike but unfortunately the pack bunched up once again in the water and the final placings were left to the final run. Zaferes pipped Spirig to the final finishing tape of the day, and after the times of each leg were accumulated, the top five athletes overall were Zaferes, Spirig, Cook, Kasper and Michel. HUUB’s Sophie Coldwell was mere seconds back in 6th place. As with the nature of this racing format it was still all to play for on day two!

 


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