Lucy Charles-Barclay wins 2022 World Triathlon Long Distance Championship
The 28-year-old returned from a long injury layoff to register an emphatic win in Slovakia, as fellow Brit Emma Pallant-Browne ran through for second place.
Lucy Charles-Barclay produced a dream comeback with a trademark gun-to-tape performance as she became World Triathlon Long Distance champion in Samorin, Slovakia.
The British superstar, a three-time runner-up in Kona, held off a charging Emma Pallant-Browne by more than 3mins as the South African-based Brit made it a GB one-two over the 100km distance.
It was Charles-Barclay’s first race of the year after being side-lined with a stress-fracture of the hip from the start of 2022 that meant she missed out on competing in the first Ironman World Championship of the year in Utah in May and the Phoenix Sub8 Project in June.
But despite a choppy swim and strong winds on the bike, the reigning Ironman 70.3 world champion didn’t appear to show any signs of rustiness as she opened a 79sec gap on Kiwi Rebecca Clarke after the 2km non-wetsuit swim in the Danube.
Charles-Barclay was caught by defending World Triathlon Long Distance champion Sarissa De Vries of the Netherlands midway through the 80km bike, but the 28-year-old who lives just outside London then re-established the gap straight from T2 and never looked threatened on the run.
Having more than 4mins to make up out of the water, Pallant-Browne was laying chase and moved up into a podium position early in the 18km around the grounds of the purpose-built sporting complex of the X-Bionic Sphere.
But despite being a specialist at the middle distance and one of the fastest runners in the sport, Pallant-Browne was unable to make sufficient inroads to mount a challenge for the lead. De Vries held on for third with Australia’s Grace Thek just unable to make the catch.
“The sky’s the limit”
“I can’t believe it, I wanted to come back and race and didn’t know exactly where I was,” Charles-Barclay said. “Training had been going well but you never know where you are until you race. I knew I needed to dig deep with Emma behind me.
“I’ve won three races here over the years and one of my early wins set me off with confidence with my pro career, so to come back was really, really special. The sky’s the limit. I didn’t expect that today, but it’s given me so much confidence.”
Charles-Barclay added that she’ll recover and assess her plans with her team for the rest of the year, but it’s likely that attention will now turn to the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii in October, where she is already qualified, and will be seeking to make the final step to the top of the podium after finishing runner-up from 2017-2019.
Three weeks after Kona, she’ll also have the chance to retain her world 70.3 crown when the race returns to St George, Utah.
“It’s super special”
Pallant-Browne, who has won four times in 2022 and finished second at X-Bionic Sphere in the Challenge Championship in May, said: “It’s super special. At the start of my week we said goodbye to my grandpa, so this was for him. I had him in my mind all the way around and I’m just happy to be on the podium.
“I didn’t have the best swim, felt strong on the bike, and it really hurt on the run. I held fairly solid, and just enough for second.”
France’s Pierre Le Corre took the honours in the men’s race. The short-course specialist, who was second in the European Championship in Munich just nine days ago, continued his fine run of form by overtaking Germany’s Florian Angert 4km into the 18km run and striding to victory.
Angert, who had led for much of the 80km bike and as PTO-ranked No 8 was unfortunate to miss out on a captains’ pick for the Collins Cup, held strong for second, with compatriot Frederic Funk, who placed fifth in the PTO Canadian Open in July, rounding out the podium.