No stranger to the podium, but a stranger to the top, France’s Vincent Luis produced a remarkable run at World Triathlon Hamburg to claim his first ever World Triathlon Series title over four-time World Champion Javier Gomez Noya (ESP). Engaged in a tight battle with Gomez the entire race, Luis launched past the No.1 world ranked Spaniard in the last 300 metres, becoming the first French athlete to ever win a WTS title.
Gomez scored silver medal after falling just short of Luis on the blue carpet. But the podium placement was enough to keep his overall No. 1 ranking intact.
“It was my first victory in the WTS and the first for the French team. It’s really good for me, but really it is good for the French,” Luis said of his win. “I was really confident. I tried to attack him (Gomez), but then he attacked me. I had to wait until the sprint to set a fast tempo to make sure he wouldn’t attack me before the finish.”
Known as one of the most popular races on the WTS calendar, crowds tallying into the thousands gathered to watch the men take off in Germany.
Entering the warm no-wetsuit required waters, Richard Varga (SVK) and Anthony Pujades (FRA) set the pace on the one-lap swim at a rate fast enough to conjure up a small lead onto the bike. Together with 9 more men, which included Gomez, Luis, Aaron Royle (AUS), Dorian Coninx (FRA), Justus Nieschlag (GER), Henri Schoeman (RSA) and Tommy Zaferes (USA), the pack pushed out a short lead after the first lap.
Two men were quickly dropped from the lead pack and were forced to join the group of 30 athletes that rode a half-minute behind. That large chase group included two top runners with Mario Mola (ESP) and Richard Murray (RSA), the latter of which was served a 10-second penalty for leaving is water bottle in transition.
Although the chase contained several strong cyclists, the leading nine were able to fend off the chase and stay united through the entire bike leg. Then out of T2, Gomez and Luis blew to the front of the pack and immediately dropped their group that included Nieschlag, Zaferes and Schoeman. From there, the race became a sprint between the Spaniard and Frenchman.
Gomez took the front spot for the first lap, but it was clear that Luis was not going to back down. The fight was on for the gold as both Luis and Gomez interchangeably took turns leading the other on the two-lap run. But with about 300 metres to go, Luis produced one final kick to blast past Gomez, ultimately claiming his first WTS crown.
“It was a pretty good race, the first group was working well on the bike, we were able to keep away from the good runners like Mario and Richard,” Gomez said. “And then on the run I did not have a great day, I just tried to hang on. I gave my best, tried a couple of times, but I wasn’t feeling great and I knew Vincent was really fast in the last 200 metres, I tried to go before at one kilometre to go, but he could keep up and then he smashed me in the end. But it’s alright, 2nd place in the Series is alright, I did my best and still managed to get a good result.”
Coming out of the bike, Mola was down by over 30 seconds and looked to be out of podium contention. But the Spaniard showcased the most impressive run in WTS history and was able to blow by the likes of more than a dozen men. His split of 13:55 goes down in history as the fastest 5km run ever recorded in WTS history.
Mola said, “I had to believe that I could get on the podium. I was in a tough position at the beginning of the run, but you have to believe. I have been training very hard for the last couple weeks so I gave everything I had today to become third so I am very happy and pleased with that.”