Hamburg WTS did not disappoint and certainly produced some very entertaining racing with some expected and not so expected results. The hot weather meant the swim was the first non-wetsuit swim for a few years and it was clear the conditions made it tough for all those out racing.
In all races the pace was relentless, and the fields were strung out along the streets of Hamburg meaning there was no room for error. Hamburg marked the middle of the season for many athletes with Edmonton WTS around the corner; however, the World Championship crowns look far from decided!
HUUB’s Richard Varga led the way in the swim and set a ferocious pace. Around the two far buoys and back through the bridges the swim bunched and it was evident that it was a violent one with many athletes forced to tread water around the crunch points. On the way back gaps started to appear, were they going to be big enough to cause permanent breaks over the 750m swim?
Onto the bike and three key groups formed all within 30 seconds, but it seemed the efforts of each group cancelled each other out as the gaps remained constant for the first few laps. Eventually, HUUB’s Jonny Brownlee and Kristian Blummenfelt along with Vincent Luis broke clear of the lead pack. Behind them, the chase packs came together inevitably causing a lull in the chase which gave hope to the leading trio, whose gap went out to 20 seconds.
It looked a hard task for Mario Mola to claim his third victory in a row, in fact, Richard Murray looked like the athlete with the best chance of making it onto the podium. Unfortunately for Blummenfelt, he pulled early with stomach issues, something he had been suffering with since Tuesday. Incredibly Mola and Murray made contact with the leading two, and it became a battle between four greats of the sport. Eventually, Mola prevailed with Luis in second and Murray in third. Brownlee although happy to back feeling competitive finished just behind in fourth.
HUUB’s Jess Learmonth, as usual, led the way in the swim and strung out the field, impressively Georgia Taylor-Brown kept pace with her along with four other athletes including Flora Duffy. This group looked to have the firepower to stay away from the chase pack and increase the gap, however, there was a determined effort from the likes of Vicky Holland, Katie Zaferes and Jodie Stimpson and eventually, the gap closed. This time for Duffy and Learmonth the breakaway didn’t work out, perhaps an indication that Duffy’s injury had indeed put her back a little.
Onto the run and it was time for France’s Cassandra Beaugrand to shine, the super talented youngster has always been known for her running, but we had yet to see it on the world stage. Although being named World Junior Champion in recent years and the odd FGP win, we hadn’t seen her dominate a senior race. Beaugrand went on to claim victory by a very comfortable margin, there was a battle between a big group of athletes behind, with Laura Linderman sprinting away for second place ahead of the consistent Katie Zaferes.
Team France took the overall win, but Silver (Austrailia) and Bronze (USA) were not decided until the blue carpet. GB’s team of Jodie Stimpson and HUUB’s Jonathan Brownlee and Tom Bishop were just short of bronze in a hugely exciting race where the lead changed regularly.