Two-time world champion Vincent Luis put in a classy performance in Bermuda today to win the penultimate race of the 2022 World Triathlon Championship Series.
The Frenchman, who has been out with injury for the past two months, led from start to finish over a strong field to remind the short-course world that he’s still very much at the top of his game.
Coming in second and third, respectively, was the Spanish pair of Antonio Serrat Seoane and Roberto Sanchez Mantecon, who put in career-best performances.
Who raced the 2022 Bermuda WTCS?
Between them, they currently hold every major world triathlon title – Blummenfelt with the Olympic, World Triathlon and 70.3 (plus the world’s fastest Ironman and long-distance times); Iden with the Ironman.
Having spent 2022 focussed on long course, neither of them were in the running for the World Triathlon title, both just simply enjoying being able to swing by Bermuda on the way back home from the 70.3 Worlds in St George, Utah, just last weekend.
It’s also happy hunting ground for the Norwegian team, having had a clean sweep of the podium back in 2018.
No.2 was Yee, who had one goal this weekend – to finish on the podium. Mounting any step would ensure he led the standings heading into the Grand Final in three weeks’ time in Abu Dhabi, putting him in pole position to take his first world title (if he does he’ll be the first British male world champion in 10 years, since Jonny Brownlee back in 2012).
Luis, meanwhile, was back after a couple of months out with injury. The Frenchman has had a pretty difficult 2022, with a serious health scare at the start of the season almost ending his entire racing career.
What happened in the swim?
After the first non-wetsuit swim lap of 700m in a pretty choppy Atlantic, it was Luis who led proceedings, along with Hungary’s Márk Dévay and Portugal’s Vasco Vilaça.
Blummenfelt was 25secs back, Yee 27secs adrift, Iden and three-time world champion Mario Mola at 35secs.
A slightly longer 800m second lap completed the Olympic-distance swim leg, as Luis maintained the pace at the front to exit in 19mins. But the leading trio had expanded to nine by T1, with 12secs over the next group in.
Blummenfelt was now 36secs down; Yee 39secs, meaning they were both in the same chasing bike pack.
What happened on the bike?
Luis, seeing an opportunity get into T2 with a decent cushion over the top runners, put the hammer down early, leading a group of eight around the lush streets of Hamilton over the 40km bike leg.
GB’s Grant Sheldon was an early casualty, suffering with a mechanical on the first lap on Flora Duffy Hill.
By the end of the first lap, the lead group had pulled put a 40sec lead over the chase group – which, with 42 athletes, was the rest of the men’s field.
Hungary’s Csonger Lehmann was the first to drop from the lead group, racing solo at the end of lap three, before the chasers swept through 50secs down.
At the halfway point, fans of Mola will have been disheartened to see the popular Spaniard 2:30mins down on the leaders.
With two laps to go, the gap dropped back to 40secs between the two groups. By T2, it was at 43secs, setting the race up for a stonking 10km run finale.
What happened on the run?
Luis had a conservative start on the first of four run laps, racing within the same group of seven that had led for the majority of the bike.
Germany’s Jonas Schomburg enjoyed taking a turn at the front, but Luis was a constant shadow in second just ahead of Vilaça.
After the first lap, Yee, not having positioned himself well into T2, was down in 12th, 21secs down from the leading runners. Iden and Blummenfelt were not far behind in 18th and 19th, respectively.
At the end of lap two, the gap to Luis, who was looking very comfortable in first, had a 36sec cushion over Yee in eighth, who was still with the Norwegians.
Spain’s Antonio Serrat Seoane had by now run up to second, and Geens in third.
But Serrat Seoane’s compatriot Roberto Sanchez Mantecon put in the race of his life to overtake Geens on the final lap for third.
And so the podium was set, with an emotional Luis taking his first major win since Hamburg 2020 (where he also won the one-race title) and the two Spaniards their first-ever WTCS podiums.
Geens finished fourth, Yee fifth, Blummenfelt sixth and Iden ninth.
Missing the podium, Yee now heads into the final in second place, just 180 points behind Wilde.
Quotes from the men’s Bermuda WTCS race
Fighting back tears, race winner Luis said at the line: “I thought [my career] was done… I’m surrounded by amazing people and they believed in me, and I just had to believe them. On the last lap I was listening to them.
“When you have Yee and Blummenfelt behind, every single lap [leading] is a bonus, I’m really happy for myself. I’m just so happy.”
A beaming silver medallist, Antonio Serrat Seoane said: “I don’t believe this moment. Sharing with Roberto is incredible, I hope this continues.”
Bronze medallist Roberto Sanchez Mantecon kept it brief: “This is amazing, my first Bermuda and my first podium.”
Top 10 men’s results at 2022 Bermuda WTCS
Top image credit: Wagner Araujo/World Triathlon