Frenchman Dorian Coninx crowned himself as the King of Pontevedra today. After a thrilling finale and supreme sprint, he took the win at the WTCS Finals. There was more than enough to enjoy and especially the finale, in which four top athletes engaged in a final sprint with each other, was phenomenal.
It was Australian Matthew Hauser who was first out of the water after 17:57 – particularly fast at 1500 meters – and then all the men followed within 1:10 minute of each other. Remarkably, both Alex Yee and Hayden Wilde, the two biggest favorites for the overall victory, were three-quarters of a minute behind.
During the first of eight bike laps, a leading group consisting of fourteen men emerged, with Dorian Coninx, Léo Bergere, Pierre le Corre and Vasco Vilaca being the biggest names. Ten seconds behind, a second group of ten followed, including Jonathan Brownlee and Morgan Pearson. After about five kilometers, this second group joined the leading group, leaving a larger group of 24 in the lead early on during the bike ride. Behind that large leading group, two chasing groups emerged: the first group included Kristian Blummenfelt and Hayden Wilde among others, but did not connect with the leading group. Behind them again rode Alex Yee, among others, who lost even more time and seemed to be able to forget a real good classification already at this stage.
During the bike the differences did not increase quickly, but differences were definitely made. When the lead group came back in T2, the group with Blummenfelt and Wilde followed at 45 seconds, while Yee followed at more than two minutes. These three favorites were in serious troubles to finish on the podium.
A particularly exciting run then ensued: in the first of four running laps, the leading group largely stayed together, but on the second lap Morgan Pearson placed a devastating acceleration on a steep climb that thus had to be taken four times. For more than 2.5 kilometers he stayed out of the hands of his pursuers, but on the third lap Dorian Coninx, Léo Bergere, Pierre le Corre, Tim Hellwig and Lasse Lührs rejoined again. Pearson, meanwhile, dropped away and so these five men looked to be battling it out for victory. Wilde, meanwhile, was unable to close the gap to the front; a fifteen-second penalty did not help either. That penalty, by the way, was a particularly notable one; after the swim, Wilde obviously dropped his swimming cap by mistake, and that got him a time penalty.
In the last 2.5 kilometers of running, the men at the front of the race alternated several times, until Hellwig accelerated to such an extent that he gave no one a chance to take over. At least for a few hundred meters, because in the last kilometer the five men came together again and set off for a blood-curdling final sprint. Hellwig, Le Corre, Bergere and Coninx were the four fastest and ran together into the stadium, heading toward the final 200 meters.
The final sprint was attracted by Hellwig and until the last ten meters, he seemed to win that final sprint as well. But, then Coninx accelerated one more time, eventually finishing in 1:42:22 to win the WTCS Finals. Hellwig finished second and Le Corre third.