Despite a time penalty served in the final heat, France just took the victory at the Mixed Team Relay WTCS Sunderland. The race was decided in the final heat by an unleashed Cassandre Beaugrand.
In the first heat, USA, New Zealand and Italy came out of the water first, but a large lead group of 15 nations quickly formed on the bike. Four countries failed to join: The Netherlands, Brazil, Belgium and Japan came up considerably behind and once back in T2 their deficit had already increased to one minute.
During the run, the leading group of fifteen countries fell apart; mainly thanks to the strong running of Swiss Max Studer and Portuguese Vasco Vilaca.
At the front of the race, Portugal’s Melanie Santos went hard during the swim, but even though she grabbed a few seconds lead, a larger lead group formed on the bike once again. That group consisted of 12 countries, while some athletes also dropped back and joined the chasing group. This did not change anymore during the bike.
During the run, it was Britain’s Beth Potter who took the lead on behalf of Great Britain and due to her high running pace, the leading group fell apart again. Julie Derron was able to follow best on behalf of Switzerland, and France and USA remained somewhat close as well. The latter was nice to see, as none other than Gwen Jorgensen was the athlete doing the job for USA.
Back after heat 2, there were three frontrunners left: Great Britain, Switzerland and America, while France, Portugal, Spain, New Zealand and Norway followed varying between 10 and 20 seconds later.
During the swim, Pierre le Corre joined the leading group on behalf of France, creating a leading quartet on the bike. That didn’t stay that way for long, as a few countries moved back to the front and suddenly it was Max Stapley who managed to break away on behalf of Great Britain and grab a 12-second lead over Norway, New Zealand, Portugal, Switzerland, USA, France and Spain, the latter two of which already had a 10-second time penalty to serve due to mistakes in earlier heats. Just before T2, Stapley saw the chasing countries closing in and his lead diminish just as quickly.
During the run, Hayden Wilde – like yesterday, when he won the individual race – was again untouchable, providing New Zealand with a five-second lead over the chasing nations. Of those chasing nations, USA just lost connection; they came came back in eighth position with a gap of 34 seconds.
During the swim, France – in the form of Cassandre Beaugrand – took the lead from New Zealand: Beaugrand was so strong that she managed to turn a six-second deficit into a 10-second lead. Great Britain followed at 13 seconds and behind Great Britan followed Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and Norway at half a minute.
Beaugrand rode for all she was worth, but could not prevent Brea Roderick and Jessica Fullagar from rejoining. Knowing that Beaugrand had to serve her 10-second penalty during the run, and so was now joined again by New Zealand and Great Britain, made the position for France a very tricky one.
In the final meters of the bike, Fullagar rode a few more seconds away from France and New Zealand, giving her a great start for the run. However, a bad transition meant Fullagar immediately saw Beaugrand come alongside again and so the crowd could get ready for an exciting final run.
That run didn’t get that exciting after all, because halfway through Beaugrand already had a lead of more than 20 seconds. That was the moment when she served her penalty and then continued on her way, still in the lead.
France therefore won the race in a time of 1:26:53. Great Britain finished second 23 seconds behind and Norway, which made a strong advance in the closing stages, finished third 34 seconds behind. For Norway it meant the first Mixed Team Relay medal ever.