Beaugrand fires off olympic-distance warning with gold in Cagliari

by Olalla Cernuda on 25 May, 2024 11:50 • Español
Beaugrand fires off olympic-distance warning with gold in Cagliari

Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA) was back to her imperious best on Saturday morning in Sardinia, finding yet another decisive gear down the home straight to see off her last challenger Lisa Tertsch (GER) after a colossal finale to the 10km run.

It had been too tight to call as the run boiled down to that duo, Emma Lombardi (FRA) and Beth Potter (GBR), the defending world champion looking in command until the final 500m when Beaugrand dug in for one last push.

It was a first Series gold at the Olympic distance and at the perfect time two months out from a huge home Games, Tertsch settling for silver, Potter holding on for the bronze.

The 1500m ocean swim was not an easy one in Cagliari. The 60 women toeing the start line faced a wetsuit swim on choppy water that proved to be challenging even for the greater swimmers of the pack. Maya Kingma (NED), Bianca Seregni (ITA) and Beth Potter (GBR) where the first ones hitting the sand to quickly turn around the bouys and get back again in the water for the second lap, but with a relatively big group right at their feet.

A group that had indeed almost all the big names on it, including Cassandra Beaugrand (FRA), Taylor Spivey (USA), Flora Dufy (BER), Emma Lombardi (FRA) o Taylor Knibb (USA), just to name a few, all of them hitting transition less than 10 seconds behind the leader.

Kate Waugh (GBR) was the last athlete to make contact with the lead group of 14 athletes and they jumped on their bikes knowing that they would have to work hard to avoid the chase group, that included strong bikers like Sophie Coldwell (GBR), Lisa Terstch (GER) or Katie Zaferes (USA). For Coldwell and Zaferes making contact with the lead group was key, knowing that the eyes of the selectors that will be naming each countries’s team for the Paris Olympics were in Cagliari taking notes.

A small group of six motivated athletes is probably the best scenario when it comes to a chase group, and before the end of the second lap -out of ten-, the lead group became a massive train of 24 athletes that would then rode together until the end of the 40km bike ride.

With a flat bike course like the one in Cagliari, it was just a matter of negotiating carefully the multiple corners, avoid trouble and try to sabe as much legs as possible for the final 10k. That was the mission for Zaferes, Laura Lindemann (GER) or Potter most of the time, while ahead of the lead group, Knibb tried unsuccessfully to break the train apart. On the bell lap, the leaders had more than three minutes over the chase group, led by a desperate Leonie Periault (FRA), Alberte Kjær Pedersen (NED) and Lotte Miller (NOR).

Periault, who was wearing the number one after her stunning victory on the opening WTCS of the season two weeks ago in Yokohama, had an average swim and couldn’t make up ground with the group.

Up front, the large pack of 24 women hit the second transition together, and it was Emma Lombardi who was first on her running shoes, but with a group of ten women in less than 8 seconds behind her. Lombardi decided to push hard from the gun. She was quickly followed by her compatriot Beaugrand, and Beth Potter, but quickly the other three British joined the party, with Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR), Sophie Coldwell and Kate Waugh knowing that a podium in Cagliari would mean almost automatically a ticket to the Paris 2024 Olympics. Also in the lead group was Jeanne Lehair (LUX), while behind the leading six Katie Zaferes fighted to remain in touch, knowing also that a top 5 result would write her name on bold letters on the notebooks of the selectors for Team USA.

Half-way through the run, the group of six leading was joined by Lisa Tertscht, who looked fresh and calm, while behind them the group started to stretch, with Knibb, Kate Waugh, Zaferes, Duffy, Spivey and Verena Steinhauser (ITA) not able to keep on with the pace of the leaders.

On the bell lap, the leading six became only four, dropping Taylor-Brown and Coldwell, to face the last kilometer looking at each other trying to decide when to do the last push. And it was Beaugrand the one going for it with the finish line on sight, managing to open a few meters with Terstcht, that will end up crossing the finish line in second place, while Potter grabbed the last spot of the podium. A disappointed Lombardi crossed the finish line in fourth, obviously not enough for her but enough to make her the new World Triathlon Championship Series leader, while Lehair rounded the top five.

This was the first-ever victory for Beaugrand on a standard distance WTCS, one that feels even better only two and a half months before the Olympics in Paris this summer. “I kept telling myself ‘you can not lose this race, you have to keep fighting´, and I did. I haven’t been able to run much in the last two weeks, but I decided to go for it today, I didn’t want to wait until the end so I just pushed and it worked. I didn’t want to lose a sprint again, so I am very happy today”, she explained.

“I was fighting until the end, but I am very happy. I know how people races, I observe them, we were all watching each other… it was fun”, said Lisa. “I already qualified for the Olympics last year, so this year is just preparing for it, but I am very happy with how preparations are going”.

“I went for the win today and got third, but I am happy”, said Potter. “My goal is end of July to be on top form, but I am confident of where I am now. I had a bad cold a couple of weeks ago but I feel OK now”.

On the British battle for the Olympic team, Taylor-Brown was the second Brit to cross the finish line in sixth place, on what she hopes that could be enough to prove to the selectors that she deserves one of the golden tickets to the Games, while Sophie Coldwell finished in seventh place. On the other side, Waugh was the fourth Brit on the finish line today, and her 10th place might not be enough to make the Olympic selection.

Team USA also was following closely their athletes, and it was Knibb the first American on the finish line, in 11th place, with Zaferes right behind her, a 12th place that felt great for the double Olympic medalist. Spivey, one of the most consistent American athletes so far, managed to finish in 15th place, while Kirsten Kasper did not have the legs today, and could only finish in 21st place, after her brilliant 5th place in WTCS Yokohama.

The current Olympic champion, Flora Duffy, crossed the finish line in 8th place, with a negative split in the last 5km, and Nina Eim finished in 9th place.

Related Event: 2024 World Triathlon Championship Series Cagliari
25 May, 2024 • event pageall results
Results: Elite Men
1. Alex Yee GBR 01:39:44
2. Hayden Wilde NZL 01:39:46
3. Csongor Lehmann HUN 01:40:27
4. Vetle Bergsvik Thorn NOR 01:40:36
5. Ricardo Batista POR 01:40:37
Results: Elite Women
1. Cassandre Beaugrand FRA 01:47:25
2. Lisa Tertsch GER 01:47:28
3. Beth Potter GBR 01:47:31
4. Emma Lombardi FRA 01:47:32
5. Jeanne Lehair LUX 01:47:51
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