Yee and Taylor-Brown claim victory in WTCS Yokohama

Brilliant performances from Alex Yee and Georgia Taylor-Brown made it a day to remember at WTCS Yokohama. Here's how the action unfolded

Georgia Taylor-Brown wins WTCS Yokohama

British triathletes Alex Yee and Georgia Taylor-Brown put in masterful performances to win 2022’s first World Triathlon Championship Series race this morning in Yokohama, Japan.

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Taylor-Brown had to overcome tough conditions and a tight race to finish first, with Frenchwoman Leonie Periault and Flora Duffy (BER) completing the podium.

A tight race also unfolded in the men’s race, with the only notable break coming late on the run when Yee – who finished fourth here in 2021 – and fellow Olympian Hayden Wilde (NZL) broke free in an exciting battle for the win.

Taylor-Brown runs takes control

With the water temperature sitting at 19.7°C it was a wetsuit-legal swim for the women, which took place over a two-loop 750m course.

Jess Learmonth, who we normally see lead out the swim, was absent here with a slight injury, Duffy, Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA), Maya Kingma (NED) and Laura Lindemann (GER) led the pack in the swim.

However, no one was really able to press an advantage and as they left the water they were in the company of many of their competitors.

A wave of wet weather meant they’d be racing a different route than originally planned, yet there were still casualties to the conditions, with Lindemann wiping out and taking Beaugrand with her.

As the bike leg continued a leading pack of nine emerged, which included 2021 winner Taylor Knibb, Duffy, Taylor-Brown, Kingma and Taylor Spivey.

Duffy and Knibb had a T2 to forget, while Taylor-Brown quickly moved to the front and pushed the pace on the run. The Brit was never able to truly drop the rest of the pack, but stayed in control and pushed the pace toward the end with Periault, before dropping the French triathlete in the latter stages.

Taylor-Brown finished six seconds clear of Periault in a time of 1:51:44, with Duffy coming in 11 seconds later. The result leaves Taylor-Brown at the top of the WTCS rankings.

Fellow Brits Beth Potter (11th) and Sian Rainsley (16th) had reasonable races, but couldn’t make an impact at the front.

The Yee and Wilde show

Credit: Janos M. Schmidt

With the water temperature rising, the men’s race took place sans wetsuit and was led out by Frenchman Vincent Luis. No surprise there, then.

However, Luis was unable to press that advantage and the athletes emerged from the swim one after another in quick succession. Despite Yee and Wilde sitting way back in the pack, they weren’t too far off the front.

To make matters worse, Luis had a sloppy transition and once settled on the bike there was a very large pack of several dozen competitors, including Yee and Wilde.

While the bike leg was largely uneventful, the run is where the action began to unfold, with Yee and Wilde making their way to the front. From there the race never really looked in doubt and it looked as if the win would be contested between the two.

And so it was. By halfway they were starting to pull clear of the pack and as they moved onto the final 2.5km lap the gap looked insurmountable.

The two Olympians battled it out on the final lap, taking it in turns to attack each other, before Yee teared away on the home stretch and took the win.

Wilde came in to claim second and was followed by Bergere, who ended up finishing 29secs down on the winner.

Bergere remains at the top of the men’s rankings for the series, while Wilde sits in fourth and Yee in joint ninth with Jelle Geens (BEL).

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Top image credit: Janos M. Schmidt