Miguel Hidalgo delivers superb first World Cup gold to send Brasilia crowd wild
As the mercury rose and the crowd grew tense in the midday heat of Brasilia, Miguel Hidalgo could finally deliver the fans what they craved on Sunday as he dug in to win a brilliant first World Cup gold in his home nation’s capital.
It had been far from plain sailing for the 23-year-old, the 1500m swim not going quite to plan and then taking a tumble out of T1, but he recovered brilliantly, powered through a tough 40km bike and then hung on through stomach cramps for the three-lap, 10km run, finally shrugging off Antonio Serrat Seoane to take the gold. Spain’s Serrat finished with silver ahead of Canadian Charles Paquet for third place and a first World Cup medal.
“It was an amazing feeling, the crowds really pushed me on that final lap,” said a thrilled Hidalgo. “I was struggling with some stomach issues on the second half of the run but still found the final kick to win my first World Cup. It’s an amazing feeling. I wasn’t in control at all, and on the final lap I didn’t think I was even going to podium! I think Antonio dropped off a little bit and I went for it with 1.5km to go. I can’t believe I just did it! Now I just want to enjoy the podium.”
Leader chops and changes over 1500m swim
It was a water start and dolphin dives through the shallower water as the 47 athletes vied for room and a good line to the first buoy heading into the growing wind.
It was the Italian Alessio Crociani then making the most of the tailwind down the long swim straight, Paquet and Matthew Wright (BAR) tucked in well along with David Castro Fajardo (ESP) and Alois Knabl (AUT).
And it was the three of them with Crociani looking to stay away from the big pack slowly organising itself behind, but there seemed little appetite to make a 4-deep break stick, and fourteen riders came back across the bridge together for the first time of the six laps.
Lead group forced to respond
Halfway through the bike that was down to 30 seconds, but that was the spur for Crociani to make another move. The break didn’t stick again as nobody went with him, though, and the leaders rolled into transition for the last time.
Hidalgo finds transition touch
It was a more fluid T2 for Hidalgo who was out first but quickly shut down by Serrat along with Paquet, Baxter finding himself isolated after Crisanto Grajales (MEX) pulled ahead of him, Knabl now 33 seconds off the front and Manoel Messias (BRA) surprisingly unable to find his usually lethal legs dropping to a minute back.
USA’s returning middle-distance specialist West was picking his way through the field and closing in on Baxter along with Michele Sarzilla (ITA), but up front it quickly looked like the podium three was set.
Hidalgo vs Serrat vs Paquet for medals
After a long tactical and mental game, Paquet was first to fade, then Serrat pulled clear and put some decent time into Hidalgo.
Hidalgo never let him go, though, and as they reached the final climb the Brazilian was able to fight back. By the time they were back shoulder-to-shoulder, Serrat had been broken, Hidalgo digging in to find one last extra gear and enjoy the cheers as he came back towards transition.
It was all smiles as he powered to the tape, Serrat hanging tough for the silver, Paquet the bronze ahead of Grajales in fourth, Jason West with a fine run into fifth.
“It was a big battle with Hidalgo, I tried in the last lap on the first hill but he chased me down and I couldn’t go with him, but I’m happy with the result,” said Serrat. “I tried to get the group to work together and attack but finally on the last lap we got a little gap and then I ran well. It’s a difficult course to break away on and it was difficult to beat Miguel at home. I had a similar sensation in Pontevedra and im happy for him, it’s very special.”
“I had a really good day to be honest,” said Charles Paquet. “I impressed myself with the swim and somehow ended up in the first five I don’t know how, and then the bike was really windy so we were either really slow or really fast, no one really on it, then just running as fast as I can and those guys really made me push and I just managed to keep it going to the end. I felt the heat a lot like everyone, maybe my getting here early and getting used to the heat was what worked well for me.”
05:53 - 15 Oct, 2023