Wake Up To The Power Of One
Super League Triathlon Recap: Malibu 2023
After a three week break from Toulouse, the racers are back for our favorite championship of the year, the Super League Triathlon! As we surpass the halfway point, the Sharks still in the lead for both men and women, with the next two events offering a chance to shake things up.
“In any other even in the series it’s a still swim and your talent and ability puts you in the position you need to be, but here with the waves coming into play, anything can happen.” — Chris McCormack, Team Manager, Scorpions
Ready to dive in? Welcome to Zuma Beach, Malibu! Here’s what happened.
The Race Format
Malibu is a fun, fast-paced triathlon with three stages of Swim-Bike-Run format featuring two mass starts and one pursuit start.
Sound simple enough? The trick with this race is that it follows an Eliminator Format meaning three athletes are cut at each stage, as well as any athlete 90 seconds behind the leader.
WOMEN’S ELIMINATOR RACE
This event had promise to shake up the leaderboard as two of the top women, Olivia Mathias and Jessica Fullagar — the current two and three below Kate Waugh — are not attending Malibu.
With a sand start to surf for the swim, the weather and conditions play a big element in how the race shakes out. In this kind of race, it isn’t just talent in swimming, but also ability with the waves that will get you ahead.
Entering the water at Zuma Beach, the women were greeted with some challenging chop out the back, meaning they really had to look where they were going to hit both buoys. Coming into shore, the back athletes were looking for help with some waves for an extra push. Whether you catch one or not really stretches out the playing field and we saw it happen as Iona Miller and Jeanne Lehair hit the beach for a great transition to the bike.
After seizing the first Short Chute opportunity, two Eagles lead the pack for the bike — Lehair way up front followed by Emma Lombardi. However, as the bike progressed, three Sharks, Beth Potter, Sophie Coldwell, and Waugh, were quick to gain on the leaders, with Potter ultimately grabbing that Short Chute opportunity. Waugh, after winning Toulouse, was looking to come out strong for Malibu!
A bit of a mix up at the transition saw Cassandre Beaugrand at the head of the pack for the run, followed be Lehair, Potter, and Lombardi — a huge relief to coaches seeing Eagles at the front. In an incredible first-stage finish, Beaugrand, who has never raced Super League, snags the last Short Chute opportunity for the Scorpions and wins the section.
Into the second mass start race, we’re down to seven or eight women opening up space and racers hitting the water with lessons learned from the first stage. Once again we have those waves coming into shore, acting as an equilizer and splitting up the field. This was a much faster swim than the first race thanks to that extra space around the buoys. Coming out of the water first are Waugh and Coldwell — The Sharks once again putting the other teams through the paces.
Heading into the bike, Coldwell takes the lead. She’s an excellent cyclist who grinds through races with big power — if she lets up, the chasing group of champions would have the opportunity to overtake. There’s not a moment to rest for Coldwell.
Another smooth transition into the run finds Coldwell leading the pack, followed closely by Lombardi, Zaferes, and Lehair. In a tight Stage 2 finish, Lombardi crosses the line first landing her the prime start position for the Pursuit start in Stage 3. She’s followed by Coldwell and Zaferes with Potter coming in ahead of Beaugrand for 5th and 6th.
In the final round we hit that pursuit start with Lombardi crossing the sand to the surf first with a three second gap between her and Lehair. Shortly behind her are Beaugrand and Potter who are aiming to run those Eagles down. Can they do it?
With the challenge of the chop and waves, the ladies come out further down on the beach, adding time as they run across to the transition. Coming out of the water, the order is Lombardi, closely followed by Beaugrand, then Potter and Lehair.
From the bike transition, the ladies have the option to either ride around the corner on their bike or to run it before mounting. Lombardi opts for the ride with Beaugrand, worried about catching her, opts to run. Announcers noted that Beaugrand’s cycling skills have improved immensely — “She knows that will is everything.”
Further back in the pack, a bit of action as Summer Rappaport from the Warriors takes a crash on her bicycle where that wet carpet turns into pavement.
At the final transition, it’s Lombardi and Beaugrand, basically running a two man race with just two laps for the win. This is the Short Chute round and the Eagles, looking to maximize their points and catch the Sharks have opted to send Lombardi, rather than Lehair, down the track.
Despite a rough transition, Beaugrand is considered one of the best champions in the world at this race distance and should be confident in being able to run Lombardi down. As they pound pavement to the finish line, it will be Beaugrand first, Lombardi second, and Lehair in third — a two-three finish for the Eagles and necessary points to attempt to de-throne the Sharks.
Heading into the final event in October, the Leaderboard is:
Jeanne Lehair (Eagles)
Emma Lombardi (Eagles)
Kate Waugh (Sharks)
Beth Potter (Sharks)
Sophie Caldwell (Sharks)
Overall, the Sharks still hold the lead at 273 points, followed by the Eagles at 212, just overtaking the Scorpions by three points thanks to Lombardi and Lehair’s efforts at 209, and the Warriors at 176.
“I’m very happy to bring the win for the Scorpions because we need points, so yeah, I’m very happy to transition back.” — Cassandre Beaugrand
MEN’S ELIMINATOR RACE
Following the same format, the men come into things with the luxury of having watched the Women’s race — especially for strategy entering the swim. As we head into the race, the Leaderboard has Jonathan Brownlee at the head, followed by Henri Schoeman, Daniel Dixon, Roberto Sanchez Matecon, and Leo Bergere. Returning from time away is Alex Yee and a hopefully Tayler Reid, who crashed in Toulouse three weeks ago.
As the mass start race begins Dixon and Bergere are in at a straight shot to the buoy. The dolphin dives are textbook as the racers try to break through the chop and wind up ahead. Schoeman left the beach for a great start — the only one catching the first wave in for a boost in time.
With an easy transition to the bike, Schoeman captures the first Short Chute, followed by teammates in second and third, Sagiv and Reid. This proved to be a super fast bike section where those fast and furious transitions were necessary for precious seconds. With Bergere capturing the final Short Chute, only the Scorpions and Eagles will get this unique advantage in the final stage.
Heading into the run are Wilde and Bergere at the lead, followed by a chain of some of the world’s best athletes. Like Beaugrand in her race, they cannot let up for even a moment. Crossing the line first are Wilde, Bergere, and Kristian Blummenfelt.
Heading into the second mass start, Schoeman once again leads the pack with Taylar Reid right at his feet. As he catches the first wave in, Schoeman pulls way ahead, confidently crossing into the bike transition.
Just like in the swim, Reid and Schoeman lead the bike, both having gotten lucky with a wave to create a sizeable gap between the other athletes. With such a technical course for the bike, opportunities must be capitalized on as they come. With Wilde and Bergere as the best cyclists in the league, maintaining the gap will be crucial for Reid and Schoeman — two Scorpions setting themselves up for a podium.
As the defending team for 2022, the Scorpions have been struggling with injuries, illness, and bad luck — could this be where they redeem themselves?
With that top cyclist title, it’s no surprise to find the Wilde has caught up to lead the run with Schoeman, alongside two other scorpions in the top 7. They are trying to put time into Bergere to keep the team going with point. Wilde and Schoeman take one and two, meaning it’s Wilde into teh water first, followed by Bergere as we enter the Pursuit start and final stage of the race.
Entering the Pursuit stage of the race, it’s Wilde into the water first with a significant gap for Bergere to cover after a 10 second wait. Leading the swim is unusual for Wilde and a 10 second gap can close just like that — Schoeman and Bergere are well on his feet as they aim to catch a wave in for that final bike transition.
Already closing the gap, it’s Schoeman onto land first, followed by Wilde, Bergere, Hauser, and Valaca. While there may only be a 4 second gap between 4th and 5th, with a technical bike, that time is significant and it shows as the top three pull away.
Is the podium set with Schoeman, Wilde, and Bergere?
Perhaps not as the wet carpet to concrete rear its head again, causing Schoeman to wobble and costing him that lead position, with his Short Chute still to come.
As they reach the final transition of the race, it’s Bergere, Wilde, and Schoeman in the lead with both Bergere and Schoeman intering the Short Chute. Rounding the first lap it’s Wilde passing Bergere, who responds by picking up the pace, but it isn’t enough — Wilde takes the win for Mailbu 2023, giving the Scorpions some essential points for the overall championship.
Crossing the line are Wilde, Bergere, Hauser, and Schoeman in fourth place, with one Scorpion and two Eagles on the podium.
“It’s really nice to put a race together that I know I’m capable of, and I’m stoked to do it again here in Malibu.” — Hayden Wilde
Coming into the last Championship events, the leaderboard — all within a few points in the mix — is:
Overall, the Sharks still sit in that first place position at 297 points with the Eagles and Scorpions tied at 282, followed by the Warriors at 183. They are gaining on the Sharks and have made up a ton of points with that $300,000 team grand prize on the line.
After an exceptional day, the athletes are off to rest up and train for the final even of the Championship series taking place in Neom on October 21, 2023.
“Those guys are coming through and showing their form — it’s really good racing.” — Tim Don, Team Manager, Eagles
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