It was an almighty denouement to the four-day Paris Test Event action as Laura Lindemann and Mixed Relay World Champions Germany brought home a stunning gold on Sunday morning. It had been the familiar sight of Team France out front for much of the race before Lindemann and GB’s Beth Potter finally reeled in Emma Lombardi and Claire Michel was able to dig deep down the blue carpet and ensure bronze for Belgium.
Laura Lindemann; “It was very tough and I know Beth Potter is a great runner so I was scared and I tried so hard. I gave it my all and it came out perfectly.”
Tim Hellwig; “My legs were so smashed from two days ago, the running on the cobbles is so tough for the quads. I tried to stay in contact with the leaders, but I didn’t have the best run. We just had to get Laura in the position to do the job and she did amazing today.”
The format had to be switched to duathlon after discrepancies in the water quality tests in the Seine, but that didn’t dampen the atmosphere on the course as thousands lined the streets to cheer on the action. A run lap over the Alexandre III and Invalides bridges, two 2.9km bike laps down the Champs Elysees and then two more 900m run laps was the challenge, and the athletes rose to the occasion and the setting with a breathless pace.
LEG ONE – HIDALGO DIGS DEEP
Twenty men stayed together over the first run lap, only Mexico dropping off, and it was Spain’s Roberto Sanchez Mantecon quickest out onto the bike, France and Dorian Coninx +3s, Tayler Reid +7s for New Zealand, but the Frenchman was soon on the front, Miguel Hidalgo (BRA), Barclay Izzard (GBR), Tyler Mislawchuk (CAN) and Gabor Faldum (HUN) all well set.
Back out onto the run Coninx looked in control until the closing stages when Hidalgo burst past to tag Djenyfer Arnold first and get Brazil’s second leg underway with a useful lead from Beaugrand, Belgium’s late-addition duathlon specialist Arnaud Mengal leaving the Hammers well placed just ahead of Izzard and GB.
LEG TWO – BEAUGRAND GOES BIG
Arnold’s lead was over in the blink of an eye, Beaugrand flying up the short ramp from the handover zone and out onto the course into the lead, Jolien Vermeylen giving chase for Belgium along with Zsanett Kuttor-Bragmayer (HUN), Lisa Tertsch looking to move through for Germany, Taylor Spivey (USA) and Nicole Van Der Kaay (NZL) a way off the pace at this stage.
The French star was on her bike 10s ahead of Tertsch and GB’s Kate Waugh after they put together a strong lap, New Zealand +25s, USA +30s, Norway +45s. Beaugrand eased off on the bike as she was caught and a five-deep lead group formed, only for the home crowd favourite to once again tear up the run and carve out another 12 second lead over Jolien Vermeylen, Bragmayer closing in too, and the five took up bike lap two together.
Beaugrand again had 12s over Tertsch by the end of that run and the handover, Waugh passed duties to Yee 27 seconds back, but it was Jelle Geens and Jonas Schomburg together out onto their first run leg chasing France.
LEG THREE – GEENS CLOSES GAP
World Champion Leo Bergere took his leg onto the Paris streets out front, but Geens was soon settling in to his rhythm and closing the gap with every step. By the end of that first loop the Belgians were within 7 seconds of the front, Schomburg now 14s, Alex Yee and GB still +25s off Bergere.
If Portugal, Brazil and Australia looked out of contention at this stage, Vasco Vilaca had other ideas, delivering the fastest leg by a full 20 seconds to haul Portugal back into the mix, Jacob Birtwhistle for Australia and Richard Murray for Netherlands also going well, Vilaca’s leg clocking in at 30 seconds faster than Bergere’s as the field began to narrow once more.
LEG FOUR – LINDEMANN AND POTTER TURN IT UP
As Emma Lombardi took up the decisive final leg for France it was 8 seconds to Claire Michel and Belgium and there were now five athletes together giving chase 30 seconds back; Lindemann and Germany, Marta Kropko for Hungary, Melanie Santos for Portugal and Potter for GB.
Just like Lombardi ahead, Michel had to ride solo for her 2 laps while Lindemann and Potter drew closer. At the bell it was 15 seconds to the Belgian, the chasers unable to make up significant ground, but as the final transition loomed closer, Lombardi was feeling the heat and the chasers were within 17 seconds.
That was down to less than five seconds after the first of two run laps and over the closing kilometre the inevitable finally happened, Potter passed Lombardi, as did Lindemann, and suddenly it was a shootout for the gold between Germany and Britain.
Shoulder-to-shoulder at the blue carpet, it was Lindemann with the sprint in the tank to pull clear to the line for gold, individual champion Potter and GB the silver, Michel also passing Lombardi late to seal a brilliant bronze.
Claire Michel; “I was just saying to Jelle actually that I am not really known for my sprint finish, but he told me that when he won his first World Series in Montreal sometimes you just have to believe and I thought of that, just believe, believe… and I also pretended the French cheers were for me!”
Jelle Geens – “A bit of redemption for me, it’s not been my greatest season but to get a podium with the Belgian Hammers and it was so close as well, I was almost crying at the finish line!”
Full results available here.