After a scintillating sprint to the line, it was Tim Hellwig (GER) who would prove victorious at the sprint-distance 2021 Hamburg World Triathlon Championship Series race on 18 September, with Frenchman Paul Georgenthum second and fellow German Leo Bergere third.
Local athlete Jonas Schomburg led the field of 51 athletes out of the water after the 750m swim. Joining Schomburg in the lead group were Takumi Hojo (JPN), Mark Devay (HUN), Hellwig, Chase Mcqueen (USA) and Dylan McCullough (NZL).
Bergere by now was 15 secs down, while two other strong contenders – Spain’s Antonio Serrat Seoane and Norway’s Casper Stornes (NOR) – lost over 30 seconds in the swim. The deficit would prove too much for 11th-place Tokyo Olympic Games finisher Stornes, who would eventually cross the line in 28th place.
Bergere, however needed just two laps of the six-lap 21km bike leg to catch the leaders, while Serrat charged hard to make up the difference and joined him in the front group, which, by the time they hit T2 numbered 25 athletes.
Capitalising on his position up front, Bergere shot out of T2 in first place, closely followed by Emil Holm (DEN) and compatriots Georgenthum and Tom Richard.
Needing to hit the ground running for the super swift two-lap 5km course, only Lasse Nygaard-Priester (GER), Charles Pacquet (CAN) and Serrat were able to follow.
Staying together until the blue carpet, it became a six-way sprint battle that ultimately required a photo finish to declare the winner. But in a career-best for the young German, it was Hellwig who was crowned the victor to the delight of the home crowd.
“There’s no better place in the world to win your first WTCS race than here at home, it’s a special feeling,” said Hellwig after the result was announced. “I raced here last year on a difference course. This one here is very special, when you have so much spectator support, cheering you on, they’re just flying over the course, it feels so great. I watched the replay from 2019 and I saw the sprint finish between Jake Birtwhistle and Vincent Luis and I thought, don’t go too early. I think I timed it perfect. It was so very close in the end but I am super happy that I won.”
despite just missing out on the top step, Georgenthum was thrilled to claim silver in his debut WTCS race: “I’m really happy. Before the race, I couldn’t imagine this result. I am very happy.”
Bergere was a little disappointed with yet another bronze, after finishing third in his previous two WTCS races in Montreal and Edmonton, saying: “I will take that but to be completely honest, I am quite disappointed. Three bronze medals in a row is quite good but in the same time, I really want more. I am disappointed that the breakaway didn’t pay off today so next time I will have the same motivation to attack.The younger guys had something more in the tank, for the sprint finish and I can say that I am so happy for my teammate and training mate Paul (Georgenthum), for his first-ever WTCS race and second today, I am just delighted for him.”
Nygaard-Priester followed up his victory last week at the Karlovy Vary World Cup with the fastest run split in Hamburg to take fourth, while Serrat closed the top 5.
Results: Elite Men
1.Tim Hellwig (GER) 00:53:08
2.Paul Georgenthum (FRA) 00:53:08
3.Léo Bergere (FRA) 00:53:09
4.Lasse Nygaard-Priester (GER) 00:53:09
5.Antonio Serrat Seoane (ESP) 00:53:12
You can find the full results at the World Triathlon website.