It was hot and dry in the Quebec capital for Friday’s qualification races of the Groupe Copley World Triathlon Championship Series Montreal, with the super-sprint two-day format making its Series debut in grand style.
The men’s and women’s fields were split in two, the top ten from each race making it through to Saturday’s three-race finals, the remainder going into a repechage for the remaining ten spots. The action didn’t stop, and Saturday’s 30-deep, three race finals are set to see more fireworks on the blue carpet.
A 300m swim lay ahead of those on the start lines, and it was Olympic Champion Flora Duffy (BER)‘s name first up on the list as she mounts a charge towards for a third world title to continue her remarkable year.
Also going out in that first qualifier were Team USA’s Olympic silver medallists Taylor Knibb and Katie Zaferes, and it was Knibb who found herself with the clear water ahead as she neared the swim exit and steeled for the long run into transition.
Behind her it was Zaferes, Duffy and Great Britain’s Non Stanford and the four had a 14-second gap over a chasing five including Verena Steinhauser (ITA), Nicole Van Der Kaay (NZL) and Leonie Periault (FRA). By the end of the third bike lap there were 15 women chasing the 6 spots still within reach, Knibb stretching away out front.
By the end of the run, it was between four athletes to make the final three spots, GB’s Olivia Mathias, Italian Beatrice Mallozzi and Anabel Knoll doing enough to make the finals, Knoll’s compatriot Marlene Gomez-Islinger missing out by the narrowest of margins. Canadian medal hope Amelie Kretz had to pull out with injury.
The second women’s qualifier was also a story of two Germans, this time Laura Lindemann and Nina Eim finishing one and two to book their safe passage to Saturday’s triple treat in a time 50bseconds more conservative than the first.
Brazil’s Vittoria Lopes had been fastest through the water and stayed in touch as a large bike pack formed, but after 18 athletes poured into T2 together, she faded out of the ten, while the likes of Angelica Olmo, Sophie Coldwell and Emma Jackson dug in. Kirsten Kasper (USA) had also dropped out and would have to race again to progress.
Unsurprisingly the pace was slower in the repechage as the mercury hit 32 degrees and the athletes readied to go again. This time there was no mistake from Vittoria Lopes, who again spearheaded the swim and even biked away from her nearest rival Kirsten Kasper, only to drop back on the run to eighth.
Natalie Van Coevorden had a tough time in the swim trying to come back from the far side but was able to recover and take the tenth and final slot at the line. Thirteen seconds ahead, Kasper had taken first with a seven-minute-flat 2km run, France’s Audrey Merle in second.
Australia’s Hedgeland sisters Jaz and Kira ensured four Australian women made the final 30, while Gomez-Islinger made no mistake this time around, the Arzachena World Cup winner heading through to Saturday’s trio of races.
“That was not planned I will admit,” said a surprised Taylor Knibb. “The aim was to keep the run in control and it was a good call. I know people will probably have tactics than me for the weekend so we will see how it plays out.”
“I had a bit of a rough start on the left-hand side in the first heat and I really paid the price for that,” said Natalie van Coevorden. “Coming into the repechage I knew I had the ability to go right so I wanted to make it as easy as possible going into tomorrow and I am really glad I could make it through. Not on the easiest note, I am just glad to make it.”
For the full list of results and qualifiers click here