HUUB’s Jessica Learmonth (GBR), Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) and Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) soared to ITU Grand Final success over the weekend in Lausanne, Switzerland. For Blummenfelt it was his first WTS win after a string of podium placings over the last few seasons.
Learmonth and Taylor-Brown secured second and third respectively in the WTS rankings with their Silver and Bronze on the day, behind Katie Zaferes (USA).
It’s almost needless to say that Learmonth emerged first from the water to string out the majority of the field. Close behind her were fellow HUUB athletes Sophie Coldwell (GBR), Vittoria Lopes (BRA), and Taylor-Brown.
Zaferes and Flora Duffy were ever so slightly on the back foot but soon closed the gap in the early stages of the bike. Further back, it looked like the firepower of Nicola Spirig (SUI), and Taylor Knibb (USA) could bring back the early leaders. Perhaps sensing this, Duffy pushed on and in the process dropping Taylor Spivey (USA) and Coldwell.
The gap to the chasers waived as both packs had strong athletes pulling their turns, and many athletes suffered on the demanding bike course. Going into transition, the leaders had a gap of around 50 seconds, but it looked like the win would still come from upfront.
After 5km it was a battle between the three most consistent athletes of the year, Zaferes, Learmonth and Taylor-Brown. However, the last lap seemed too much for the young Taylor-Brown as the other two put daylight into her leaving it a two-horse battle. It was Zaferes who prevailed, pulling away in the final 200m as she approached the finishing straight to claim her first World title.
In similar fashion to the women’s race, HUUB led the way in the water through Henri Schoeman (RSA). Not far behind were Richard Varga (SVK), Jonny Brownlee (GBR), Blummenfelt and a host of the worlds best.
It took an entire lap of the bike course for a group to assemble, driven largely by Blummenfelt and Brownlee, who looked keen to establish a smaller lead pack to isolate some of the faster runners further back.
It was not to be as current World Champion Mario Mola (ESP) along with others, made his way up to the front of the race. This looked like the selection for the day, and unfortunately for the likes of Alex Yee (GBR), Tyler Mislawchuk (CAN), and Hayden Wilde (NZL) they would spend the rest of the bike losing time to an incredibly strong and driven front pack.
By the second transition, the gap had grown to 1 minute 40 aided by breakaway attempts from Brownlee, Blummenfelt and others. Unfortunately for Brownlee a collision in T2 put him on the back foot straight away and with the pace applied early on, he could never get back into the battle for the podium.
Blummenfelt was the first to mount a serious attack, and at the first attempt, he was reeled back in. On the second ask, he proved too strong for Mola and Luis as he thundered through the streets of Lausanne. Luis looked to be suffering as he fell back from Mola and was also passed by Gustav Iden (NOR) and Fernando Alarza (ESP) in the final stages.
Blummenfelt won his first WTS in epic style with Mola second and Fernando Alarza (ESP) third. Iden showed he is undoubtedly another Norweigian to look out for in the future finishing in 4th. Luis did enough on the day to be crowned World Champion in a season that has shown him to be a favourite for the Olympic games next year.
Jetze Plat (NED) arguably put in his most dominant display ever in the PTWC category, beating his compatriot Geert Schipper into second place by close to 6 minutes. This is his fourth consecutive World title, and he remains unbeaten since 2015.
Joe Townsend (GBR) rounded out the podium to claim another championship medal. In the women’s PTWC category, Jade Hall (GBR) finished in 4th. George Peasgood (GBR) competing in the PTS5 category led the way in the water, and at first, looked like he could build a substantial lead going into the run as we have seen many times this year. However, Peasgood was given a dubious drafting penalty, which put him out of contention for a podium finish. He will be massively disappointed, but the young British athlete has shown great improvements in 2019 and will have eyes firmly on Tokyo 2020.
HUUB was well represented in the mixed relay event with Alex Yee and Ben Dijkstra competing for GBR. The race was a close-fought battle between Great Britain, New Zealand, Germany, USA and France. In the end, a late surge by Hayden Wilde (NZL) on the bike gave him enough gap over Yee to claim the title. Yee ran away from the other nations to claim second with Team USA in 3rd.