Sophie Linn wins World Triathlon Cup Napier, Callum McClusky beats Hayden Wilde after thrilling run

Sophie Linn takes the day at World Triathlon Cup Napier (Picture: World Triathlon)

Almost everyone expected Hayden Wilde to win today’s World Triathlon Cup Napier, but nothing could be further from the truth. After a more than thrilling run, in which Wilde made up a large deficit in the closing stages, he came up just short to outlast a particularly strong Callum McClusky. In the women’s race, the win went to an also very strong Sophie Linn.

The women’s swim was still led by Britain’s Sophie Alden, with ladies such as Olivia Mathias, Emma Jeffcoat and Zsanett Kutton-Bragmayer behind her. Linn followed in ninth and was then twelve seconds behind. After the swim a group of eight women formed on the bike, including Linn, who worked well together and saw their lead grow to nearly forty seconds over a much larger peloton.

During the run, however, Linn’s ambitions were quickly clear and it became apparent that she only wanted to go for the win. After one of three running laps, she already had a small gap on Alden and Mathias, among others, and in the kilometers that followed, that lead slowly but surely grew by several seconds. In the end, Linn won the race in 56:36 and Alden (+0:09) and Mathias (+0:10) followed in second and third.

Men’s race – thriller run

In the men’s race, the race only got really interesting during the run. Already during the swim there was a small shuffle within the field; Italian Alessio Crociani and New Zealander Dylan McCullough took off in pairs and came back out of the water first after 8:59 minutes. Still, they could not prevent a large peloton of more than 20 men from forming on the bike. Biggest absentee was Hayden Wilde, who fell more than 45 seconds behind and had to chase to stay connected.

The peloton stayed together constantly throughout the bike and rode as hard as they could to keep the lead over Wilde – who ended up in a chasing group – as large as possible. Yet that didn’t quite work out, because once in T2, Wilde was slightly closer and still had 27 seconds to bridge to the leader.

During the run, Wilde was unstoppable, flying full speed past one competitor after another. Australian Callum McClusky was leading at the time and did not let himself get crazy; he did not look back, ran his own pace – and that pace was high – and focused only on the finish line. Still, Wilde was closing in second by second and the New Zealander had already advanced to second place.

With a few hundred meters to go, Wilde accelerated one more time, aiming to make up the last ten seconds behind McClusky. Unfortunately for Wilde it was too late, however, and so McClusky ran to a stunning and impressive victory. He did so in a time of 49:42. Wilde finished second in 49:48 and Spaniard Alberto Gonzalez Garcia was third in 49:50.

Callum McClusky wins World Triathlon Cup Napier (Picture: World Triathlon)