Leonie Periault soars to World Cup gold with Karlovy Vary dominance
A strong bronze in Valencia just a week prior served as the appetiser for Leonie Periault’s main event on Sunday as she stormed to gold at the 2022 World Triathlon Cup Karlovy Vary, winning by a margin of 43 seconds over Italy’s Bianca Seregni in second, Summer Rappaport (USA) with bronze.
The trio had been part of a five-strong breakaway straight out of the water along with Olivia Mathias (GBR) and Lizeth Rueda Santos (MEX), carving out over a minute to the growing chase pack, but it was Periault who took control early on the run and never looked back, running solo to the tape and heralding her return to full fitness.
“I’m very happy with that! The group was really good on the bike, we worked well but that run was just crazy,” said a thrilled Periault afterwards.
Race number one Julie Derron (SUI) took up position on the far end of the curved start pontoon at Rolava Lake, a technical 1.5km swim ahead, Erika Ackerlund of the USA the top-ranked on the far side and there was congestion at the tight first buoy to contend with.
As last year, it was Seregni who quickly found her way to the front, this time with Rappaport and Mathias for company and jockeying to get on the Italian’s feet. As they came out at the end of the first of two laps, it was Periault tucked in in fourth, Rueda and Sara Vilic (AUT) right in touch, Lisa Tertsch 30 seconds back and Derron 47seconds.
Simone Ackermann (RSA) was also going well as they came back round to target the exit, but a poor T1 took her out of contention, while Mathias’ speed helped her get onto Seregni and Rappaport’s back wheel along with Rueda.
The five leaders set about their task quickly, extending their advantage on the 6km ride into town and opening up 40 seconds over the likes of Lena Meissner (GER), Therese Feursinger (AUT) and Barbara De Koning (NED), Derron 75 seconds back along with Nina Eim (GER), Vittoria Lopes (BRA) and Yuko Takahashi (JPN).
Germany’s Annika Koch had her race ended early in a bad crash, Sara Vilic was also forced to pull out early on, while Sweden’s Junior World Champion Tilda Mansson had worked her way back into the race after struggling in the water.
Periault was looking strong up each of the steep climbs out of transition as the seven-lap bike began to settle, a main chase pack of 21 now together unable to haul back any ground despite the best efforts of Derron and Takahashi. Suddenly the gap grew by 15 seconds on the sixth loop and the leaders were beginning to look out of reach, Lopes’ challenge ended with a flat, Amelie Kretz (CAN) also unable to continue.
That was how it would remain, too, as Mathias racked and exited fastest onto the first of four bike laps, her riding partners all staying right with her before Periault asked the question with an early burst of speed.
Rappaport and Seregni did their best to keep the flying Frenchwoman in their sights, Rueda dropping off and Mathias alone in fourth suddenly 26 seconds off the front. Crucially, even the likes of Derron and Tertsch couldn’t make up any ground either, underlining Periault’s dominance up ahead.
At the halfway point Seregni had managed to pull away from Rappaport while Tereza Zimovjanova was giving the Czech crowds plenty to cheer as she pulled ahead of the chasers.
There was nothing anyone could do about the podium places, however, each of the three looking the master of their domain, and it was to be Periault following up bronze in Valencia with gold in Karlovy Vary, a delighted Seregni and Rappaport with silver and bronze.
“I was very excited about this race after last year’s third, said Seregni. “Leonie ran very fast today and I tried to pace the run to keep the distance… I want to thank all the people around me. It’s a long way but I trust in the process and I am happy to be in the Italian team and try to be in the next Olympics.”
“I’ve missed being on the podium, it’s been a pretty rough season,” said Rappaport. “It’s been a battle back and I am really happy to be back. “It’s definitely encouraging, and it makes me feel like my fitness is rounding back into shape and I am excited for my next WTCS race.”
For the full results, click here.
Related Event: 2022 World Triathlon Cup Karlovy Vary
|Results: Elite Men|
|4.||Roberto Sanchez Mantecon||ESP||01:52:03|