Apart from cycling to run transition in 16th place, Great Britain’s Alex Yee unleashed a superb 10k to reach the finish in 1:41:02, 13 seconds clear of a photo finish between runner-up Vasco Vilaca of Portugal and third place Dorian Coninx of France.
Yee started the day with an 18th-best swim that dropped him 21 seconds, closed to within 5 seconds on the bike and burst into a 2-second gap after the first lap of the run. Never looking back, Yee put the hammer down to accelerate out of sight while building a 27-second lead after the course’s third lap. Yee then cruised to the finish, surrendering 14 seconds of his lead on his way to a race-best 29-minute 10k that was 14 seconds faster than his nearest rivals.
Before his heroics in the Test Event, Yee had a strong race winning the 2023 season at Abu Shabi and Cagliardi. Today, recent Olympic silver medalist Yee out featured recent Olympian Kristian Blummenfelt who finished 9th.
Behind Yee, Portugal’s Vasco Vilaca raced to the finish in a French sandwich in a three-man battle between Dorian Coninx, Pierre Le Corre and recent world champion Leo Bergere. When the blue carpet rolled out, Vilaca and Coninx were the last men standing, expending their last energy in a sensational photo finish won by the Portuguese star.
“I just loved it,” Yee told World Triathlon media. “I pushed the middle 3km where I put in a lot of effort. But in the end I started to die a little. It was relentless from the start. I was trying to help everyone stay away (on the bike) but everyone was too motivated to stay away. I was just buzzing for a good swim. I felt absolutely horrible in the pool so I’m glad I was able to put together something representative of all the hard work I’ve put in. (The World Championship final in Pontevedra should be a good shootout.)
Morgan Pearson of the United States had an impressive outing, making the start list this morning and racing up to 2nd before finishing 6th to qualify for the start of the Olympiacos. Pearson, a Tokyo Olympian, matched American women’s star Taylor Knibb’s fifth-place Olympic qualifier on Thursday.
Unfortunately, WTCS series leader Hayden Wilde of New Zealand crashed in practice practice and re-injured a lingering hip injury. Wild made a race attempt to race but had to retire before the run. Battling injury, two-time World Champion Vincent Luis also had to retire.
On a beautiful course that takes in some of the French capital’s most famous landmarks, a 1.5km counter-clockwise swim that passes under the Ponte d’Invalides twice, a flat 5.715km bike ride to be navigated 7 times, each lap with over 25% cobbled surface under the Champs Elysees and a 10km route that is over 50% cobbled. The Test Event will thus give Yee and today’s opponents an excellent scouting insight into the 2024 Olympic race.
Hungary’s Mark Devay led the swim with an 18:14 split that gave him a 5-second margin over Germany’s Jonathan Schomburg. Devay’s margin over the leading contenders included 12 seconds on Coninx, 15 seconds on Leo Bergere, 17 seconds on Pierre le Corre, 211 seconds on Yee, 31 seconds on Morgan Pearson and 52 seconds on Vasco Vilaca, while Kristian Blummenfelt was just more than a minute. .
Midway through the moto, Blummenfelt found himself in first place with Yee on his wheel in the middle of a 40-man pack. Jelle Geens led on lap 4, followed by Blummenfelt, Bergere, Emil Holm of Denmark, Le Corre, Casper Stornes of Norway, Coninx, Yee, Tim Hellwig of Germany and Vilaca and Pearson 4 seconds back in 34th and 37th position.
From T2, Schomburg, Gens and Vilaca led the field on the run, but Morgan Pearson and Blummenfelt came out in front. When Yee started slicing down the field, Blummenfelt fell back. On lap 1, Yee built a 2 second lead and then put on the jets. Brazil’s Miguel Hidalgo, Vilaca and Bergere moved into the position along with Germany’s Pierre Le Corre and Tim Hellwig.
Behind Yee, the three French triathletes battled for the podium as Vilaca pulled away as Hellwig and Pearson eventually fell. From then on it was a breath of fresh air to try and fail to join Yee. To the delight of the home crowd, Portugal’s Vilaça produced a brilliant sprint to take Coninx silver, Le Corre taking fourth from Bergere and sixth earning Pearson his Olympic spot.
“The Test Event is just that, the test for next year,” Vilaca told World Triathlon media. “You want to get as much as you can here so you don’t have to move too many details for next year. When you come back, you have a good feeling, this will help you get a good result. It was so intense I’m still a little dizzy. I just want to sit down after that… that sprint at the end, I tried to position myself well, to go forward but just before the last corner but I lost a few metres. It was really just faith until the last moment that came right down the middle.”
“It was an extremely tough race, there were 5 or 6 of us at the end for the finish,” Coninx told World Triathlon media. “I had my chance but it’s always a bit difficult and Vasco is very strong. But third is good, my first podium of the year. I managed to be the first ahead of the French, so I’m very happy about that.”
1 Alex Yee GBR S 18:32 T1 00:48 B 52:17 T2 00:25 R 29:00 TOT 1:41:02
2 Vasco Vilaca POR S 19:03 T1 00:48 B 51:45 T2 00:24 R 29:15 TOT 1:41:15
3 Dorian Coninx FRA S 18:23 T1 00:55 B 52:17 T2 00:28 R 29:14 TOT 1:41:15
4 Pierre Le Corre FRA S 18:28 T1 00:50 B 52:20 T2 00:24 R 29:16 TOT 1:41:17
5 Leo Bergere FROM S 18:26 T1 00:50 B 52:19 T2 00:24 R 29:22 TOT 1:41:20
6 Morgan Pearson USA S 18:42 T1 00:47 B 52:11 T2 00:26 R 29:18 TOT 1:41:23
7 Tim Hellwig GER S 18:31 T1 00:46 B 52:18 T2 00:27 R 29:25 TOT 1:41:26
8 Miguel Hidalgo BRA S 18:30 T1 00:51 B 52:20 T2 00:26 R 29:25 TOT 1:41:30
9 Kristian Blummenfelt NOR S 19:15 T1 00:553 B 51:29 T2 00:28 R 29:49 TOT 1:41:52
10. Roberto Sanchez Mantecon ES:PS 19:21 T1 00:49 B 51:27 T2 00:29 R 30:00 TOT 1:42:05
14 Matthew McElroy USA S 19:22 T1 00:48 B 51:27 T2 00:29 R 30:14 TOT 1:42:19
26 Seth Rider USA S 18:42 T1 00:54 B 52:04 T2b 00:25 R 31:05 TOT 1:43:10
45 Darr Smith USA S 19:07 T1 00:54 B 51:40 T2 00:28 R 32:17 TOT 1:44:23
50 Chase McQueen USA S 18:29 T1 00:53 B 52:14 T2 00:28 R 34:08 TOT 1:46:09
51 Jonathan Brownlee GBR S 18:28 T1 00:52 B 52:22 T2 00:24 R 34:07 TOT 1:46:10
DNF Manuel? Messiah BRA Richard Murray RSA, Vincent Louis FRA, Jacob Birtwhistle AUS, Hayden Wilde NZL, Henry Schoeman RSA, Luke Willian AUS.
DNS Matthew Hauser OFF
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