Dorian Coninx held tough at the end of an intense weekend of super-sprint racing to win a hard-earned gold at the Groupe Copley World Triathlon Championship Montreal on Saturday evening, spearheading a French one-two-three along with his Tokyo 2020 Olympic teammates Vincent Luis and Leo Bergere.
Montreal was showcasing a brand new format over two days and the action lived up to the occasion, Friday’s qualification races the route for 30 men onto Saturday’s first start line and 300m swim. From there, three further races stood between them and gold, the challenge boiling down to the last ten standing from a veritable roll-call of title contenders. As the last 7.2km bike segment saw all ten remaining finalists come together, the 2km run became a straight shootout to the tape and it was the French Olympians who seized the moment, Coninx holding firm off the front without let up and barely looking back for a moment.
“It was a very hard weekend,” said Coninx after his second Series gold. “It’s crazy but it’s nice. I like when it’s fast, I like this racing. It’s very nice to be on the podium with Vincent and Leo, all French. it’s a good feeling. I knew before racing that 2km running is good for me but, you know, three times is much different than once!
“I think luckily it was a very busy bike and at the end I didn’t know exactly how many were in the group. When Leo passed me I thought, this is going to be tough, but then it flattened a bit so I could catch his feet. At the end it was about giving everything and I just didn’t think at all.”
It was another exhibition of swimming from Luis in the first men’s race of the three, USA’s Chase McQueen tucked in behind him, top qualifier Takumi Hojo of Japan again there too, the fastest finisher from Friday.
The bigger names were happy sitting at the front and trying to stay out of trouble, Jelle Geens taking a pull at the bell after Luis had a moment of trouble with his chain and briefly fell off the back. Out of the second transition it was another Frenchman, Tom Richard, out front with Jonas Schomburg, while Kevin McDowell was trying to pick off those in front of him with a lot to do.
The Olympic silver medalist did just that, though, Miguel Hidalgo of Brazil likewise and suddenly there was a big group of 24 at the bell and the shuffle began.
Jacob Birtwhistle worked his way out of trouble but it was Schomburg who was struggling of the bigger names and fell off the back and out of the 20 as a swarm of athletes led by Hayden Wilde crossed the first line.
Stage 1 results.
That left 20 men aiming for a place in the final, and the swim stretched out for the first seven athletes led by Luis, Hidalgo and Tayler Reid, Matthew Hauser the last up and across the blue carpet climb into transition.
Manoel Messias crashed out on the first bike lap to end his chances, and Wilde made his first bridge effort, Geens and Coninx digging in behind him too but none gaining much ground.
Wilde racked his bike as Luis and Bergere exited T2, Geens just behind Tim Hellwig, but a coming together effectively ended the Belgian’s challenge as he fell to the ground, Coninx had a lot of ground to make up but he and Birtwhistle were able to pass Hidalgo down the final metres and scrape into the gold-medal showdown.
Stage 2 results.
It was a question of who had what left in the tank for the final throw of the dice, and Luis put in another fast swim along with Tayler Reid. The effort up into transition was even greater as they sought a strong position onto the bike, Birtwhistle managing to hang on to the back of the group and all ten athletes rode together for the three laps ahead.
That effort had taken a toll even on his impressive kick, however, and after Seth Rider had pulled clear out onto the run, the pace was upped again for the 2km finale.
Rider was quickly caught while teammate McDowell’s effort was sadly over before he could get going after rolling his ankle off the bike. Ahead, Coninx was taking the race on, Luis and van Riel right on his shoulder. Antonio Serrat Seoane was also tucked in, Bergere coming through strong as Wilde fell back.
Bergere moved onto Coninx’s shoulder and the pair pulled away from Luis now alone in third and just as it looked like Bergere had it won, Coninx found yet another gear, Luis then moving in to the silver position as Bergere took bronze.
Behind them Van Riel was fourth, Seoane fifth, Wilde, Birtwhistle, Reid and Seth Rider rounding out the top nine with McDowell 10th overall.
“I am still nursing a little injury on my lower leg, and I think I missed these hard and fast sessions too,” said Luis. “I’ll take silver after the Tokyo disappointment. I am really happy to be back here eating at the adults table now.”
“Us French, we race French Grand Prix, it’s a short form racing, we basically raced in a parking lot since we were ten years old. We really enjoyed that and I think we proved we have a really strong team. We were going for gold in Tokyo but bronze medal, I think we want to prove that we are a really strong nation and I am really looking forward to the races coming up.”
“To be completely honest, I didn’t have anything left at the finish line so I have no regrets,” added Bergere. “I am so happy to share this podium with the two best friends and teammates. A dream race for the French team after a disappointing race in Tokyo in the individual. That’s not a redemption but it still put smiles on our faces.”
Full results can be found here.