Yee scores big in Cagliari after another epic battle with Wilde

by Olalla Cernuda on 25 May, 2024 03:58 • Español
Yee scores big in Cagliari after another epic battle with Wilde

The Men’s race of World Triathlon Championship Series Cagliari looked like a repeat of the 2023 edition. Alex Yee (GBR) and Hayden Wilde (NZL) proved once again that they are on a league of their own and delivered another battle for the ages, that ended up with the Brit finding an extra gear to cross the finish line a couple of meters ahead of the Kiwi, exactly as it happened last year. It was also an incredible day at the office for Csongor Lehmann (HUN), who crossed the finish line in third on what it is the first WTCS podium of his career.

Strong winds and rain forced a 30 minutes delay on the start of the Men’s race, and by the time that the 60 men lined up on the Poetto Beach, in Cagliari, it was clear that the non-wetsuit swim will be a challenging one, with strong currents and waves that made the navigation and entry in the water not an easy one. The lead pack, commanded by Alessio Crociani (ITA) and Alberto Gonzalez García (ESP) was trying to stay aligned with the bouys, and behind them Pierre Le Corre (FRA), Morgan Pearson (USA), Jonas Schomburg (GER) and Csongor Lehmann (HUN) tried to make an impact on the race, knowing that if they managed to open a small break, the wind will play on their favor when they would mount on their bikes.

But the current was too strong to allow the great swimmers to open a gap, and a big group made it to the beach together, including the French Army of Leo Bergere and Vincent Luis. More importantly, Alex Yee (GBR) and Hayden Wilde (NZL) exited the water only 15 seconds behind the leaders, with Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) only four seconds behind them.

Pearson, Miguel Hidalgo (BRA) and the French pushed hard on the run out of the water and mounted their bikes quickly, and managed to leave transition a few seconds ahead of a small chase group that included Yee, Wilde, Marten van Riel (BEL), Charles Pacquet (CAN) and Ricardo Batista (POR). Behind them, Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) was the last one to make the chase group, while Hugo Milner (GBR) lost his wheel for just a few seconds, enough to end up with the rising star of team GB losing ground and on a different group.

Being chased on the bike by Blummenfelt, Wilde and Van Riel is not an easy task for anyone, and in just two laps the two groups merged into a large one, and from then on the 40km bike ride was a secession of attempts to break away. Wilde and Bergere were the first ones to try, but the Kiwi was marked by Samuel Dickinson (GBR), who didn’t help at all on the attempt to break away, and the attempt ended up with Wilde and Bergere reabsorbed by the main lead group.

Up in front, Blummenfelt, Wilde and Schomburg were taking turns to push the pace as much as possible, while on the back of the group, Morgan Pearson was barely hanging on. Half way through the bike, Pearson lost contact completely, and together with Crociani they rode solo for the rest of the bike segment.

With five laps to go, it was Blummenfelt the one that would loose almost two minutes, due to a flat tire that he had to change on the neutral wheel stop.

By the time they all hit the second transition, it was clear that the race would be another showdown between Yee and Wilde, an exact repetition of the previous year’s race. But with an open question mark: would Wilde be able to pass Yee at the end?

As soon as they both were on their running shoes, they never looked back. Shoulder to shoulder for 10 km, both athletes seemed to be enjoying each other’s company, and were carefully monitoring each other to decide when to give it a try.

It was Wilde going first, but Yee did a bit of yo-yoeing to catch up with the Olympic bronze medallist. Behind them, Bergere, Luis, Batista, Schomburg and another half a dozen of men were trying to position themselves but the leading duo was just impossible to catch.

From the early stages of the 10km run it looked crystal clear that the rest of the field would be fighting for the third place on the podium, while Yee and Wilde continued was looked like an easy jog, but was really a frantic run. With less than 2 kilometers to go, Wilde tried a move but Yee made up ground in just a matter of seconds, and by the time the last 180 turn to face the finish line was already on sight, Yee looked up, crisped his hands and went for it, leaving Wilde slightly behind, enough for the Brit to cross the finish line in first place, his third consecutive win in Cagliari.

“I hope everyone enjoyed it today. I gave everything I had, same for him, and I hope it carries on for the rest of the year”, said Yee. “Each of us were making little moves here and there. I’m pleased to be back racing. My swim today was really positive, even though it was chaotic out there, but I am pleased”, said Yee.

Wilde claimed the silver place, stopping the clock on 29:13, just one second slower than Yee, a time that proves that the job done during the winter is paying off. “It’s a great time racing like this. Is not all about how you finished, Im really pleased with my swim today, I came out of the water in the front pack. Im getting closer and closer. I know what I need to work on. This is a great tune in before Paris. I tried to break away on the bike but (some guys) were not helping much but I am pleased with how I raced today, and I am really happy to be back in the circuit”, explained Wilde.

The bronze medal was for Lehmann, a career-best result for the Hungarian, who had never been on a WTCS podium before. “It’s unbelievable. I was really close many ties in the past years and finally Im here. Congratulations to Alex and Hayden, they were great today. I am very thankful to the team around me. I hope this is only the start”, he said, after having raced three consecutive weeks in three different continents.

Vetle Bergsvik Thorn (NOR) had another outstanding run, despite racing under the heat in Huatulco merely one week ago, and crossed the line in fourth place, while Batista also had a career best, finishing in fifth place.

But the biggest smile of all when crossing the finish line was from Pierre Le Corre, sixth on the day, a place that gives him a direct spot on the French team for Paris 2024.  It will be now a decision of the French Team selectors to award the other two spots on the team, discretionary, to either Vincent Luis (9th today), Leo Bergere (16th place today), or Dorian Coninx, who didn’t race in Cagliari as he went through surgery to recover from the crash in Yokohama two weeks ago.

With Cagliari being the last race of the Olympic qualification period, not only the top positions were celebrated. Alberto Gonzalez (ESP) cried of joy when he crossed the finish line in 11th place, guaranteeing Spain a third man on the Paris 2024 olympics, a third spot that lost Hungary, that will only have two men in Paris. Jonas Schomburg crossed the finish line in 10th place, knowing that he has also secured his start in Paris. And also satisfied was Hugo Milner (GBR), who had another impressive run on his second ever WTCS race, with a split of 29:18, only six seconds slower than Yee and five slower than Wilde.

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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