Wake Up To The Power Of One
Super League Triathlon Recap: Neom 2023
Neom is an exciting race because it is the fourth and FINAL leg of the Superleague Triathlon Championship! Coming in, there were nine athletes within reach of that championship title. With so much pressure and opportunity, we watched with bated breath to see who it would be and which team would come out on top in this Saudi Arabia stadium.
“All the major players are there, so it could be anyone’s race.” — Sharks Coach
Ready to dive in? Welcome to Neom! Here’s what happened.
The Race Format
Neom is a challenging and punishing triathlon with three stages of Swim-Bike-Run format at 300m, 4km, 1.6km respectively, featuring one mass start and two continuous starts. This is a true test of endurance with no stopping, no pursuit starts, and no eliminations. It is a grueling test and truly exemplifies the term, “enduro.”
Competitors aren’t just battling themselves and some of the best athletes in the world — they’re also up against intense desert heat and biting wind.
WOMEN’S GRAND FINALE ENDURO
Coming into the women’s grand final, there were two Eagles at the top of the podium followed closely by three Sharks to make up the top five. Jeanne Lehair, Emma Lombardi, and Emma Waugh sat in the podium positions, each just a point away from each other. In an unfortunate turn of events, Beth Potter was unable to attend Neom, ensuring she did not take the title despite being within striking distance after Malibu.
Coming off of her huge win in Malibu, Cassandre Beaugrand is a favorite to win at Neom, but is out of the title race for the championship.
Here’s what happened in the women’s grand finale race.
Sophie Caldwell gets into the water and starts out in the lead for this first of nine grueling legs with Beaugrand also kicking off in a strong, fast start. As they round the second buoy that wind chop is really making itself known, creating difficult conditions for exiting the water.
With a smooth transition, Olivia Mathias secures the first Short Chute for the Sharks and the bike is underway with Mathias, Coldwell, and Lombardi in the lead, followed closely by Lehair and Waugh. Taylor Spivy and Mathias make their way to the run transition first from the bike course followed really closely behind by the other athletes, but it’s Waugh who crosses first into the run and secures the Sharks the second Short Chute.
Keeping in mind the length of this enduro and the need to preserve energy, the leading athletes are making big statements as they take to the run. Waugh, Beaugrand, and Mathias take the top three followed closely by two Eagles, Lehair and Lombardi — Caldwell dropping back by 5 seconds during the transition.
As they head back towards the swim transition, it’s a tight race for who will secure the final Short Chute — Lehair seems to know it and takes over to secure the Eagles the third and final Short Chute of the race.
The Eagles are up to the front after a successful run and back into the water for the second swim leg of this grand finale enduro. However, it’s Beaugrand of the Scorpions who exits the water first, followed by Lombardi, Waugh, and Lehair. At this stage and with this close of a battle, clean transitions are a necessity for these leading ladies.
With two Eagles up front, one Shark, and one Scorpion, it’s a mix of individual effort and teamwork to get to that podium. For Lombardi and Lehair, their teamwork is both a blessing and a curse, as both are still competing for that Championship title on their own. This leg showed lots of strategy as the two standalones fought to ensure it doesn’t come down to an Eagle vs. Eagle race for the title.
Beaugrand really demonstrated her strength and strategy in the bike, pulling ahead of the other three women, crossing into the transition first.
At this stage, the Short Chutes are delegated by their coaches going to Waugh and Lehair.
Into the run, it’s our same top five trading places and holding on tight to that win and championship title potential. The stadium offers an unreal view — Like running on the surface of Mars as our athletes hit that black mat and transition into their final swim.
The end is in sight and with a bit slower of a run the top five is now made up of two Eagles and two Sharks — it will be interesting to see how the teammates work together while still competing for that title.
Beaugrand hits the water strong and takes the lead with the two Eagles right on her tail. Every second counts as they finish their final swim and hit the bike transition.
Lombardi starts the bike with a solid head start on the rest of the leader pack, but can she keep that gap? Knowing she can’t outrun some of her closely following competitors, Lombardi opts to burn her legs with the cycle and try to extend that gap. It seemed to work, but not for long. As they head into the run that gap is completely gone and it’s back to being a neck-and-neck finish.
This is it! The final run begins with Waugh and Lehair heading into the Short Chute to up their chances at that Championship title and landing crucial points for their teams. Meanwhile, Beaugrand, Lombardi, and Mathias take the remaining top spots and head out on the regular race track.
Although Beaugrand is leading (running at a just over three-minute kilometer pace), if Kate Waugh can hold onto second, she will take the title for 2023.
At the tape, it’s Beaugrand as the race winner with Waugh in second to take the 2023 Championship title! Third and fourth place go to Lehair and Lombardi.
“I just kept reminding myself how badly I wanted to win this [...] I’m absolutely over the moon.” — Kate Waugh
As the results were tallied, it came to light that Waugh and Lombardi were equal in points overall. Thanks to her being one position ahead in the final race, the win goes to Waugh as title champion, Lehair in second, and Lombardi in third overall.
MEN’S GRAND FINALE ENDURO
After watching the women to see how it’s done, we’re heading into the very end of the Superleague 2023 Championship with the men’s finale. It’s Leo Bergere at the top of the leaderboard, followed by Jonathan Bronwlee, Hayde Wilde, Henry Schoeman, and Alex Yee. With a race win, any of the top five could be contenders, so the pressure was on.
Let’s get into it.
Matt Hauser — winner of Leon 2022 — Kicks things off as the leader coming out of the water after a quick first swim. He secures the Short Chute for the Eagles as he transitions over into the bike.
Following Hauser are Chase McQueen, Bergere, and Tayler Reid with Bergere quickly taking over that lead spot. The top 15 are tight in this first bike ride, but almost guaranteed to spread out as the race continues.
At the top of course, the ride has already shaken things up with Wilde and Reid in the top spots, followed by Bergere, Brownlee, and Matthew Hauser.
A bit of chaos at the transition finds Wilde crossing the line to land the Scorpions a Short Chute, followed closely by Reid and then Bergere, who recovered well after dropping his bike at the transition and making a correction. He is motivated to catch the 2022 champion, Hayden Wilde.
Into the second swim, it’s Wilde in the lead by a solid 10-seconds. Kenji Nener makes his way into that top five section as the athletes hit the water. The wind has picked up a bit adding some more challenging chop to the arena.
Out of the water, it’s still Wilde up front who picks up another Short Chute for the Scorpions. Everyone is looking for a clean transition for the second bike. As the ride continues, Wilde holds his lead, followed by Seth Rider, who missed Malibu, and Bergere.
From the top three to the rest of the pack is a significant gap. At the head of the course, that top three gap between Wilde and the rest has slowly closed. It could be anyone’s race.
In an interesting turn of events, the Scorpions manager delegated Schoeman the Short Chute, leaving Wilde to run the full course in Stage 3. Meanwhile, Bergere will take the Short Chute for the Eagles.
As they get into the second run leg of three, it’s Bergere, Rider, and Wilde up front. At 18s behind, it’s looking like that Championship title is out of reach for the hopeful Brownlee.
Wilde crushes the transition and is first to hit the chop in the last swim of the men’s grand finale. It’s seemingly down to Bergere and Wilde for this race and overall championship title, with Bergere putting Wilde through the paces and exiting the water first.
The saga continues with Wilde and Bergere, but Bergere will have that Short Chute advantage over Wilde in the run section. In the chasing pack are Kristian Blummenfeldt, Reid, and Yee, with that third podium spot up for grabs.
Into the run, you really see the difference a Short Chute makes as Bergere gets his advantage and leaves it up to Wilde to catch up. Can he close the gap? It’s all downhill towards that finish line and it’s Bergere who crosses first to win both the race and the Championship title! That leaves Wilde to cross in second, rightfully disappointed at missing that Short Chute chance to win, and Yee takes that third place position.
The final leaderboard is:
In the end it’s the Eagles who take the team championship and $120,000 with 425 points, followed by the Scorpions at 407, the Sharks at 390, and the Warriors at 220.
What an incredible showing this year’s Superleague Triathlon Championship has been! We absolutely love watching these athletes push limits and inspire everyone around them to compete to their absolute greatest capacity. We’re already looking forward to seeing what great heights will be reached in 2024.
“It was a tactical masterclass from Leo, but taking absolutely nothing away from Hayden.” — Eagles Coach guy
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