HUUB athletes took Edmonton WTS by storm with Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) and Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) both claiming their second podiums of the year, in quite possibly the strongest fields of the year. Both races took place in the late afternoon / early evening where soaring temperatures dipped slightly, but this did nothing to dampen the ferocity of the racing which looked to push every athlete to their limits.
The women started the day's proceedings with HUUB's Jessica Learmonth (GBR) among the leaders out of the water. There at first was a leading pack of three, but with only Learmonth looking able to force a break the trio was soon swallowed up by the massive chase pack. After that, the bike was relatively uneventful with nearly all the key players ensconced within. It looked like the race would be decided on the 5k run.
Within the first few kilometres of the run, it seemed the British were out in force and determined to clean sweep the podium. In the end, it was Vicky Holland (GBR) who prevailed, earning her second WTS victory in 2018. Australian Ashleigh Gentle was the green and gold between the blue, white and red in second place, with HUUB's Taylor-Brown in third and Learmonth in fourth. Jodie Stimpson's fifth-place made it four Brits in the top five!
The men followed later in the evening, HUUB's Jonny Brownlee (GBR) led out of the water with longtime rival Vincent Luis (FRA). The pair were also joined by HUUB's Marco Van Der Stel (NED) along with a select few others. At first, it seemed a breakaway would succeed, however halfway through the 20km bike the chase pack were on their heels primarily due to the efforts of HUUB's Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR). As in the women's race, it would be decided on foot and a large group headed into T2 lead by Blummenfelt and HUUB's Tom Bishop (GBR). Eventually, Mario Mola seeking his 4th consecutive WTS victory claimed the win but only narrowly beating Blummenfelt who was leading with 500m to go. Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS) rounded out the podium with Brownlee finishing in a very close 5th position.
The final relay event of 2018 also took place at Edmonton with an impressive 23 teams taking part. The British and French teams looked to be the strongest on the day, continually swapping the lead.
It eventually came down to the last leg where six teams battled it out for the podium placings. Australia prevailed followed closely by team USA then New Zealand. Great Britain finished agonisingly in sixth place after leading for much of the race. The final three relay qualification races for Tokyo 2020 take place in 2019 where I am sure we will see the heat turned up more as countries prepare to nail down their tactics and team ready for the Olympic Games.