Zone3 sponsored athlete Jelle Geens takes his first ever WTS win inMontreal, with a blistering run split. In the process he takes Belgium’s first ever WTS victory!
The 2019 WTS Montreal Sprint distance event was held over a brand-new course, taking in a 750m swim in the Lawrence River, before a technical 5-lapped 20km bike around the centre of the city and a two-lap fast and flat 5km run to the finish. The race start time was moved forward due to an impending storm, which meant that athletes managed to stay dry and safe during the bike leg.
With 4 different victors of the first 4 events in the 2019 WTS calendar, the race was set-up to be a thrilling insight into form in a year where qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games is at the forefront of athletes’ minds.
The race began with Henri Schoeman (RSA) pushing the pace in the water, but over the shorter sprint distance, the fast swimmers failed to establish enough of a gap to create a breakaway group. Out of T1 onto the bike, the large pack contained all the major favourites including WTS Leeds winner Jake Birtwhistle (AUS) and WTS Abu Dhabi winner Mario Mola (ESP). The race failed to separate over the bike route, despite the 16 technical corners and hill on each of the 5 laps. The huge group of over 30 riders entered T2 together and set out on what was to be an exciting and fast-paced 5km effort to finish the race.
Early pace on the run was set by Richard Murray (RSA) and Mola, who split the field into a small group of 6 that also included Jelle Geens (BEL), Javier Gomez (ESP), Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) and Tyler Mislawchuck (CAN). With 1km to go the heavens opened and the heavy storm materialised, which Mola seized as an opportunity to press on. Blummenfelt, Gomez and Murray dropped off the pace one by one, leaving a group of 4 to contest the sprint with 500m to go. It was Geens who was the freshest and left his training partner Mola behind on the blue carpet to take the finishing ribbon alone in first position.
Jelle Geens reports on his recent win “Coming into WTS Montreal I was pretty confident in my running after a having a good run in our last race in Leeds – I had one of the fastest runs but unfortunately from the 2nd pack so I couldn’t challenge for the podium. This meant that at Montreal I was very motivated to have a good swim and make the front pack.
After a good start to the swim, I managed to navigate the first buoy well and ended up able to move up through the pack on the second half of the swim. I managed to exit the swim only 15 seconds down on Henri Schoeman, who was first out of the water. I had a few issues which meant I had a slow T1 and had to close the gap a bit on the bike, but I felt really strong and was able to close the gap on my own. After that, I worked a bit on the front but mainly focused on being in a good position to start the run.
I had a good second transition, having to run up to Richard Murray who started fast out of transition. I didn’t really find it that difficult to close the gap, but when Mario Mola came up to the front I knew I could go with him and sat behind him as I was feeling really strong. The race began to string out and I was able to stay with the pace fairly comfortably. With only 1km left to go I knew I had an attack left within me, and once we turned the last corner towards the finish line I accelerated. In retrospect, I jumped a bit early as Mario came back past me to take the lead, but I managed to find a second attack on the blue carpet to sprint past him for the win.
It feels so good to take a victory, my previous best was a 6th place finish in Montreal two years before so this is a big jump. I knew I had the ability to challenge for the win with my run, in training I’m able to run with the best in the world like Mario Mola and Jake Birtwhistle and Vincent Luis. It feels so good to have finally had a perfect race and a victory feels amazing. “
Radka Kahlefeldt produces a gun-to-tape leading performance to take the win at Challenge Kaiserwinkl-Walschee, continuing to build on an already phenomenal season.
2019 saw the 10th edition of Challenge Kaiserwinkl-Walschee, where a high-class field would compete over the middle-distance race on an incredibly hot day in Austria. The race started on the spectacular beach overlooking turquoise waters of Lake Walschee, before taking on a 2 lap 90km bike ride and a 4-lapped run course that circumnavigated the lake.
In the women’s race, Radka Kahlefeldt stamped her authority on the race from the beginning, leading out the non-wetsuit swim in a time of 26:58. She had only a small gap on Emma Pallant (GBR) at this point, with Natascha Schmitt (GER) and Julia Gajer (GER) not far behind either. Thoes Svenja (GER), a serious contender for the podium was over 2:30 down on the leaders after the swim, with work to do!
Radka and Emma continued to push the pace on the bike, and soon Natascha and Julia lost contact with the fast-moving duo. It was only towards the end of the second lap on the bike that Radka managed to separate herself from Emma, and by the end of the bike ride had a gap of 57 seconds over the second placed athlete. Radka told us “From the 70km mark onwards, I tried to outpace Emma Pallant and after the second bike lap, I had the courage to ride the very technical downhill passages more aggressively to shake off Emma, because I definitely didn’t want to risk a head-to-head run in the half marathon”
Onto the half marathon run, and Radka knew that she couldn’t let off the pace with a 2x World Champion Duathlete chasing her down in the form of Pallant. In fact, Radka continued to solidify her lead throughout the run, and by the finish line had built a buffer of over a minute and a half. Radka said about the race “The toughest days are always the ones you remember. I’m really happy to win here in Walschee. It was really hot and hilly but I just loved racing here in this beautiful place”