Birmingham Commonwealth Games representative Natalie Van Coevorden has pushed herself into the World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) top 20 after an encouraging performance on the sixth stop in Hamilton, Bermuda this morning.
The world’s best triathletes gathered on the picturesque North Atlantic island and home to three-time World, Olympic and Commonwealth Games champion Flora Duffy who delivered a dominant victory in front of her patriotic hometown fans.
Van Coevorden led home the Australian contingent in 13th place after running through from the second chase pack on the bike followed by Kira Hedgeland (17th), Emma Jackson (18th) and Jaz Hedgeland (27th).
Van Coevorden’s fellow Birmingham mixed relay bronze medalist, Sophie Linn was forced to retire from the race after lap three of the 38.5km technical bike course.
For Campbelltown’s Van Coevorden it was just enough to land her into 20th place on the Maurice Lacroix Rankings with the WTCS Grand Final set down for Abu Dhabi from November 23-27 – Van Coevorden recording the 10th fastest run of the day.
It follows a season that has seen Van Coevorden finish 18th in Yokohama, 11th in Leeds and Montreal and 25th in Cagliari – also finishing 13th in the Commonwealth Games, where she too won bronze in the Mixed Relay.
After a busy Super League season, Van Coevorden will now continue her heat training as athletes prepare for the expected sweltering conditions in Abu Dhabi – different to the rain and wind dished up in Bermuda.
Jackson had been well placed in the first chase pack on the bike as Duffy and Maya Kingma (NED) opened up a handy lead through the technical bike course with bike specialist Taylor Knibb (USA) riding solo between the leading pair and the chasers before she ran into second with Beth Potter (GBR) charging into third.
With a record fourth world title in her sights Duffy knew that a win at home would give her that chance and a place in WTCS history books as the first four-time world champion.
The men’s race saw Frenchman Vincent Luis return with a resurgent performance to land the gold, the 33-year-old’s first WTCS podium for exactly a year, his first gold since Hamburg over two years ago, and the emotion was clear as he took the tape after running solo for the majority of a brave 10km run.
The pair had been in the chase bike pack for the duration of the 40km ride and had considerable ground to make up out of T2, easing through the gears to pass the gutsy Jelle Geens and take silver and bronze respectively.
In the context of the World title chase, Geens held on for fourth, Britain’s Olympic silver medallist Alex Yee in fifth with a late surge, not quite enough to put him above Hayden Wilde (NZL) in the Maurice Lacroix Rankings with just the Championship Finals Abu Dhabi to come at the end of November to decide the 2022 World Triathlon Champion.
The high winds that were forecast stayed away from Hamilton on Sunday morning, but strong gusts remained and the water was choppy as the 53 athletes lined up for the start of the two-lap, 1500m sea swim.
After the at times tricky 38.5km bike and into T2 and it was actually Geens and Australia’s Brandon Copeland who were first out of the chase pack onto the first of the four laps.
Copeland faded to finish 27th – the best of the two Australians on the start line with Jake Birtwhistle one of 12 with a DNF list that included the likes of Richard Murray (NED), Mario Mola (ESP), Kevin McDowell (USA) and Tyler Mislawchuk (CAN).
Australia’s Matthew Hauser, who chose to by-pass Bermuda to prepare for the Grand Final, is the best placed of the Australians in 10th, while Copeland is sitting in 34th and Birtwhistle in 43rd on the Maurice Lacroix Rankings.
Australian Elites now set their sights to Abu Dhabi, with Matt Hauser, Jake Birtwhistle, Brandon Copeland, Luke Willian, Natalie Van Coevorden, Charlotte McShane, Jaz Hedgeland, Emma Jackson and Sophie Linn set to take on one final race of the 2021/2022 season at the WTCS Grand Final, 25-26th November.
Replays of all the action can be found on TriathlonLIVE.tv >>