Sunny Swansea welcomed some of the world’s best paratriathletes for a day of intense racing in Britain’s first-ever World Triathlon paratriathlon event.
With six medal events and eleven paratri classifications, it’s no wonder that the British para-athletes reigned supreme in today’s sprint-distance triathlon.
With appearances from copious Paralympians, Welsh crowds were especially eager to cheer on recent PTVI Commonwealth champions Dave Ellis and Katie Crowhurst, along with Paralympic medallists Claire Cashmore and George Peasgood.
Here’s how the racing went down…
What happened in the Swansea visually impaired paratriathlon?
Men’s PTVI race
The men were first to set off for the 750m swim with a deep water start in Swansea’s Prince of Wales Dock, among them was new Commonwealth champion Dave Ellis and his guide Luke Pollard, as well as the USA’s Kyle Coon and guide Zack Goodman, whose World Triathlon (WT) Paratri ranking places him just below that of Ellis.
Those athletes with a more severe visual impairment took off from the dock 2mins46s ahead of the rest of the PTVI field; this head-start is called their ‘factor’ and can vary on disability.
Nevertheless, first out of the water was Ellis who managed to bridge the gap to the front pack and take prime position, with French Paralympian Antoine Perel 50s behind, followed by Coon.
Ellis quickly proved dominant on the fast, four-lap 19.5km bike course, swiftly creating a 50s lead. Those behind Ellis jostled for position with overtakes a-plenty, as British athlete Oscar Kelley overtook Coon for fourth position, while Thibaut Rigaudeau guided by Cyril Viennot overtook countryman Perel for second place coming into T2.
Out on the 5km, three-lap run, Ellis maintained his dominance, continuing to extend an initial 30s lead and going on to take the winning tape in 57:39.
A well-earned second place went to Rigaudeau 1min39s later, with Perel coming in 2min19 after. While GB’s Oscar Kelly made an impressive comeback after disappointment at the Commonwealth Games to secure fourth position.
Quotes from winner Dave Ellis
On how he feels having won again after his Commonwealth success: “I’m pretty tired to be fair. Another good race backing up from Commies. It’s been a bit of a tough week but I think we did well to put another good result together.”
Guide Luke Pollard on how the race went: “I think we had a pretty good race to be fair. The bike was really quick. We might have run out the wrong way in T2, but rectified it quite quick, kept it cool and collected. And had a pretty solid run.”
On what’s next: “A little break, and then we’ve got the World Cup in Portugal and then a big focus on Worlds at the end of November.”
Women’s PTVI race
The PTVI women set off from the Welsh dockside again in two staggered groups, with 18-year old Katie Crowhurst (GBR) along with guide Grace France a race favourite after Crowhurst’s recent success having boosted her onto the world stage.
It was Commonwealth bronze para-athlete Jessica Tuomela (CAN) who was first out on the bike for the women after a swift T1, with Paralympic bronze medallist Annouck Curzillat (FRA) powering through at her heels, Crowhurst 1min40s behind.
The French champ managed to pull back time on the run to take the lead and the finishing tape in 1h11mins, with Crowhurst wowing crowds in an intense sprint finish for the line against Tuomela to take second place in her first World Series race, just 1min5s after the Canadian.
Quotes from runner-up Katie Crowhurst
On how she feels after having become commonwealth Champion only a couple days ago: “I’m still really speechless, it was an amazing experience down in Birmingham so I’m really happy with that and to come to this race and get second with the competition, it’s really good. I’m really happy.”
On how her race went: “Becuase I only last raced less than a week ago, I’m still really happy this performance. I’m just really happy and thankful that Grace has been able to guide me.”
On the sprint finish: “I wasn’t expecting a sprint finish. Grace really pushed me on the run, I was saying to her – ‘I’m going to be sick!’ – but I’m really happy and it was a great competition.”
Guide Grance France on what’s next for the duo: “Obviously I offer something a bit different in terms of guiding, so I think could be our last partnership. We did a flying mount today for the first time. Katie came to me on Thursday as we were practicing our dismount and said – ‘flying mount?’. I’ve never had an athelte suggest that, so that’s really promising.”
What happened in the Swansea wheelchair paratriathlon?
Men’s wheelchair race
Out first on the swim course for the wheelchair paratriathletes were those with a factor ‘headstart’ of around two minutes, among them was double Paralympic bronze medallist Giovanni Achenza (ITA) who gunned for the lead from the get-go.
Reigning double Olympic champion Jetz Plat (NED) was notably absent, along with compatriot Geert Schipper.
Yet, it was Italy’s Guiseppe Romele who came out of the swim first, followed by compatriot Achenza, with handlers ready to swiftly lift them out and help into T2, with a second handler waiting to strip off wetsuits and to lift the athletes onto handbikes for the 19.5km bike leg. While first Brit out the water was Bret Crossley.
A slower T2 led to Achenza, Italy’s national champion, spinning out first onto the bike course. Followed by Romele, Ahmed Andaloussi (FRA) and the USA’s Howie Sandborn.
After Romele’s superb swim, he was swiftly caught by Andaloussi on the handbike who then set his sights on reducing Achenza’s minute lead. Later on, it was Austrian Paralympic silver medallist Florian Brungraber’s turn to take dominance after a powerful performance on the bike, overtaking Achenza before T2.
After neglecting to come to a full stop before the transition line, as is required of the wheelchair athletes, Brungraber sped out onto the run leg in his chair to work on increasing his lead.
Brungraber took the gold in 1:00:14 ahead of rival Achenza, who came through 3mins55s later. In third was Andaloussi 4mins52s later, adding a respectable bronze to France’s medal haul, with Louis Noel (FRA) fourth and Sandborn fifth.
Women’s wheelchair race
First of the women out of the 750m swim was silver Paralympic and Commonwealth bronze medallist Lauren Parker (AUS), who chose to forego the full wetsuit for wetsuit trousers, saving previous transition seconds.
Second into transition was Margaret Ijdema, the Dutch Paralympian looking to add a second gold to her victory in WTPS Yokohama earlier in the season. But by mid-way through the handbike, France’s Mona Francis had soon caught up through the field to take second position, with Brazil’s national champion Jessica Ferreira having moved up to third.
First out onto the run leg in her three-wheel race wheelchair was Parker, while the reigning Paralympic champion Kendall Gretsch (USA) blew apart the competition to take over second position chasing Parker, but the Aussie’s incredible five-minute lead was too much to overcome as she took the finish tape in first. Silver went to Gretsch and rounding off the podium was Ferreira.
What happened in the Swansea WTPS paratriathlon?
Men’s PTS5 race
Britain’s silver Paralympic medallist George Peasgood was first of the PTS5 field out of the sprint swim leg and onto the bike in a time of 10mins20, 4s ahead of Portugal’s Filipe Marques and Paralympian Ronan Cordeiro (BRA).
The Paralympic bronze time triallist worked hard to make as much time as possible on his competitors, including Canadian Stefan Daniel who last year took bronze in Tokyo behind Peasgood, while Paralympic champion Martin Schulz (GER) was notably absent.
After an incredibly smooth T2, Peasgood was first out onto the run in 39mins30s and over a minute ahead of the rest of the field, but the effects of contracting Covid less than a month before were evident as Daniel sped past Peasgood at a hair-raising pace and maintained the pace until the line.
The Canadian took the tape with a slash of his fist in a swift 56mins54s, with Peasgood coming through 1min17s later, Marques behind him for third.
Quotes from runner-up George Peasgood
On how his race went: “I didn’t get into that rhythm on the swim and onto the bike I was alright, but again I was just burning matches. By the time I got to the run, I was just running into a bit of a hole.
“I tried to salvage what I could, I got pretty bad stitch and cramps at one point. So I just overcame that, built through it, and held on until the finish line.”
On racing while recovering from Covid: “It was a really tough race, I had Covid four or five weeks ago. I’m really thankful that it wasn’t that bad but I felt flat. I felt like I was racing 60-70% the whole time.
“Something’s missing from my racing, but I think it’s just starting to come back in training so hopefully I can just build upon this. To still get a second is a massive bonus for moving forward and trying to improve on that as well.”
Women’s PTS5 race
A small field of four world-class para-athletes took part in the women’s race today. This included Britain’s bronze Paralympic medallist Claire Cashmore and silver Paralympic medallist Grace Norman, along with France’s national champion and Paralympian Gwladys Lemoussu and Spain’s Cristina Miranda Zambrano.
Cashmore and Norman came out of the swim together, while the Brit put the pedal down on the bike to speed forwards into the lead initially.
By half-way through the bike after having overtaken Cashmore, Norman was forced to pull-over due to a mechanical, which led to a DNF. That left second position wide open for Lemoussu, who had been sitting around 3.5mins behind Cashmore on the bike leg.
A swift run despite a misbehaving shoe in T2 saw Cashmore power through to take gold in 1:05:34, Lemoussu coming through over 5mins later for second and Miranda Zambrano third.
Quotes from winner Claire Cashmore
On how she’s feeling: “Amazing! it was absolutely fantastic to have all my family thre on that finish line, it really carried me through.”
On her main competition suffering a mechanical on-course: “Obviously having Grace get that mechanical was really gutting. It’s not really the way you want to win, but at the same time it was out of my control, and it was great to cross that finish line.”
On what’s next: “Having a few days off then it’ll be Portugal the end of this month, then Turkey the month afterwards and then looking forwards to World Champs in Abu Dhabi.”
On what she’d like to see change in the PTS5 category: “I think inspiring some females out there will encourage more females to get into the sport. This is pronbably the smallest field we’ve ever had, and it’s really sad to see that. I’m not sure what’s happening this year, but hopefully people here today might be inspired. That’d be brilliant.”
It was France’s Alexis Hanquinquant with the swiftest swim time in the men’s PTS4 race, closely followed out of the water by Britain’s Michael Taylor. But Hanquinquant maintained his dominance throughout to take the win in 59mins15s.
When we later asked Hanquinquant for his secret, the Frenchman having won pretty much every race he’s taken part in since 2017, he joked: “no secret, train hard to race easy.”
In the women’s race, it was Spaniard Andrea Miguelez Ranz who took the gold in a time of 1:14:06, with second place athlete German national champion Elke Van Engelen coming through 3mons27s later, the USA’s Kendra Herber in third.
PTS2 and PTS3 race
As Australia’s Anu Francis was the only competitor in the women’s PTS3 category, World Triathlon made the decision to merge the women’s PTS2 and PTS3 together.
First in the men’s PTS3 was Nico Van Der Burgt (NED), while first in the men’s PTS2 was Jules Ribstein (FRA) and Hailey Danz (USA) in the women’s.
Who won Swansea WTPS paratriathlon?
Ellis won the men’s PTVI race in a textbook-perfect performance to take the tape, while young Crowhurst added to her Commonwealth gold with a dramatic sprint-finish for silver.
British podiums were plenty in the PTS5 class, with Cashmore putting in a winning performance for gold and Peasgood holding onto silver.
Top image: World Triathlon