Germany delivered an expected victory in Sunday’s Mixed Relay at WTCS Leeds 2022 as Great Britain claimed a stunning silver.
With the reigning Olympic Champions missing the injured Jonny Brownlee and Alex Yee after that crash on Saturday, Germany started favourites to take top spot on the podium in Roundhay Park.
All four of their team members had finished inside the top eight in their individual races on Saturday, but the British quartet of Tom Bishop, Sophie Coldwell, Grant Sheldon and Georgia Taylor-Brown delighted the home crowd with a superb second-place finish.
This was the first time the Mixed Relay event has been held in Leeds, and the first time that men would start the relay and women would have the opportunity to finish it off. It was also the first event in the Paris 2024 Olympic qualification cycle and every team seemed up for the challenge of Leeds’ hilly, technical and windy course.
Australian Matt Hauser stroked out into the swim lead, exiting the water in first place followed by New Zealand and Switzerland. Tom Bishop meanwhile was 13 seconds back in 10th. Hauser was fast in the early stages of the bike, but was caught by the rest of the field fairly quickly.
Happy to be part of the team, but looking for ‘some redemption’ from Saturday’s individual race, Bishop flew off the front of the group on the second of two laps. However, he was caught by the time he reached the bike to run transition and suffered a chaotic handover. Germany’s Lasse Nygaard-Priester meanwhile took up the lead and handed over to team mate Anabel Knoll.
Leg Two – Coldwell impressive
Hungary were first to hit land, closely followed by Germany’s Knoll and Great Britain’s Coldwell, who had clawed back some time to exit the water in 5th place. Norway’s Lotte Miller was the only athlete interested in forcing the pace on the bike; the rest of the field rolling along in a pack behind her. Coldwell admitted to having sore legs after her heroics on the bike on Saturday and decided to ‘use her head a bit’.
Miller had the benefit of a quiet transition, but the chasing group of eight teams were just seconds behind. Coldwell was the fastest to put on her running shoes, making a jump on the other teams to strike a lead. Coldwell had a superb leg, handing over to Grant Sheldon with a 4-second lead over Germany’s Lasse Luhrs, who had claimed his first individual WTCS podium finish on Saturday.
Leg Three – Germany and Belgium breakaway
Luhrs led out of the swim with a group of three behind – Great Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium. The next group were a further 14 seconds back. Luhrs and Belgium’s Jelle Geens managed to get away, chased by Frenchman, Leo Bergere, the individual silver medal winner from Saturday. Sheldon lost time after fumbling with his bike helmet strap and then was caught by the group.
Germany and Belgium were strong on the run, France just behind them followed by Australia’s Jacob Birtwhistle. At the changeover, Belgium had a one-second advantage over Germany, but still with a stop/go penalty to serve on the final leg from an earlier infringement. France were five seconds back, followed by Australia’s Charlotte McShane 18 seconds off the pace.
Leg Four – Lindemann runs for gold
Germany and Belgium were locked together at the swim exit with France just behind, and these three teams rode together during the final bike leg of the day. At the final transition, Germany’s Laura Lindemann took the lead with Belgium and France just behind her, but the big news was that Taylor-Brown had moved from being 45 seconds down at the start of the swim to being just 8 seconds down with 1.9km to run.
Taylor-Brown was roared on by the Leeds crowd, running beautifully as she passed all in front of her except Lindemann, who was too strong as Germany took the tape in the gold medal winning position. She hailed an ‘amazing performance’ by her team mates as the favourites delivered gold.
On winning silver, a beaming Georgia Taylor-Brown said she had “always wanted the glory leg. The boys always get it, but when it became our turn it’s quite nerve racking!”
France won bronze by following home Germany and Great Britain.
WTCS Leeds 2022 Results
Sunday June 12 2022 – MIXED RELAY (Male-Female-Male-Female)
4* 300m / 6.9k / 1.9k
1. Germany (GER) – 1:28:002. Great Britain (GBR) – 1:28:143. France (FRA) – 1:28:204. Italy (ITA) – 1:28:325. Belgium (BEL) – 1:28:406. Australia (AUS) – 1:28:497. Norway (NOR) – 1:29:338. Portugal (POR) – 1:29:529. United States (USA) – 1:30:1710. Netherlands (NED) – 1:30:29
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