Monday, 30 Jan, 2023

Léo Bergère wins WTCS Final Abu Dhabi, last 2.5 kilometers extremely exciting

Leo Bergere (archive picture: Insta Bergere / Activ'Images)

In a WTCS Final that only got really exciting in the last 2.5 kilometers, Frenchman Léo Bergère just took the win. After a very strong run, Bergère claimed victory, even though he was chased hard, especially in the closing stages, by Morgan Pearson, Alex Yee, Jelle Geens, Hayden Wilde and Matthew Hauser.

The swim was fast right from the start and that was mainly thanks to Hungarian Márk Dévay, who more than once comes out of the water first in races and now, in Abi Dhabi, again. He finished his 1500 meters in 17:52 minutes and behind him he saw his competitors running toward T1 one by one, following as close as possible.

In T1 and during the first kilometer on the bike, it was exciting to see which of the men could join the leading group and who would just miss the battle: very quick a leading group consisting of thirteen athletes emerged, where Léo Bergère, Jonathan Brownlee, Pierre le Corre, Vincent Luis, Henri Schoeman and Tayler Reid were the biggest names. A large peloton followed at half a minute, which also included many favorites, including Kristian Blummenfelt, Jelle Geens, Gustav Iden, Hayden Wilde, Alex Yee, Matthew Hauser and Jonas Schomburg, among others. After a few kilometers on the bike, four men from the leading group were unable to keep up and they dropped back into the peloton.

Most of the fans worldwide will probably describe the bike as relatively boring: pretty little actually happened. There was a small crash in the peloton after which everyone was able to continue on their way and two top athletes were told to serve a 15-second time penalty (Blummenfelt for ‘swim behavior’ and Le Corre for getting on his bike too early) but otherwise the only thing that happened was the leading group, consisting of nine athletes, who managed to get away from the chasing peloton by a few seconds every bike lap and thus slowly but surely increased their lead. When the lead group returned in T2, their lead was 37 on the chasing pack. This was somewhat surprising, because it meant that the peloton had suddenly made up a lot of time in the final kilometers on the bike. At the same time, it also meant a much more exciting run.

From T2, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, it was Brownlee who immediately took the lead and began to run a fast pace. Only two men could follow him: Bergère and Reid, although the latter had to drop out not much later. Bergère, on the other hand, passed Brownlee after about two kilometers and grabbed a lead of a few seconds. The Frenchman looked strong and was running very smooth. 

Halfway through the run, Bergère was relatively comfortably in the lead and meanwhile it appeared that Yee and Geens were making an impressive advance. Both men started their run from the chasing pack, but had already passed many of the men who were first in the lead group. It was abundantly clear that their running pace was highest with five kilometers to go. Meanwhile, Wilde also tried to run to the front, but even though he caught up with many men; he was unable to stay with Geens and Yee.  

In the fourth and final running lap and thus final 2.5 kilometers, things suddenly became extremely exciting after all: Bergère was still in the lead, but American Morgan Pearson was only seven seconds behind, and Geens and Yee were only 25 seconds behind. 

Bergère, however, did not let this fool him and managed to maintain his lead. He won the race in 1:44:14. Pearson was second at 11 seconds behind and Geens beat Yee in a superb sprint to finish third at just 20 seconds behind. Yee and Hauser, who passed Wilde in the closing stages, finished fourth and fifth.

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