The 2021 World Triathlon Championship Series drew to a close with the final event in Edmonton on Saturday 21 August where Alex Yee secured a podium finish to go with his Olympic medals and Sophie Coldwell earned a top-five finish in the overall series with another strong performance.
Edmonton was the fourth and final stop in the series, however those racing at the Olympics were also able to use Tokyo as a ranking race. Heading into the race in Canada, Yee held the top spot with a narrow lead over Olympic champion, Kristian Blummenfelt, of Norway.
Across the 1,500m swim, it was Frenchman Vincent Luis who took control of the race. Stretching the field out, Hungarian Mark Devay and Belgian athlete Marten van Riel were the only ones able to keep within touching distance of the 2019 and 2020 world champion.
During the 40km bike leg, Yee and Bishop rode together in the second chase pack and were consistently around 90 seconds down on the leading trio of Luis, Devay and van Riel, with Blummenfelt in the first chase group.
At second transition, the three out front were caught by the Norwegian who had pulled his group through to put himself in contention, whilst Yee and Bishop were still a minute and a half down the road.
Yee ran with Hayden Wilde (NZL) out of T2 and away from their group, however the Olympic individual silver medallist soon left the bronze medallist behind to chase down the leaders and secure a place on the overall series podium.
Running the fastest run split of the race (00:30:04) by almost 40 seconds, Yee made his way through the field to cross the line 11th and stand on the third step on the World Triathlon Championship Series podium behind van Riel and Blummenfelt.
Speaking to World Triathlon after the race, Yee said: “Today wasn’t my best day, no excuses, I just didn’t swim well enough. I gave it everything I had and for me, I fought to the end and luckily I get to hold onto a podium with these great guys. They did a phenomenal job today and kudos to them because they were all incredible.
“I just gave it everything I think. You don’t want to die wondering what could have happened or anything like that, you never know if you’re going to be in this position again. I was extremely proud to put on the number one to start this race and, for me, I had to race that with pride and I did everything I could and today it wasn’t enough, but it was amazing and really fun to be back out racing again.”
Knibb led from the second lap of the swim and hit the bike hard to create a gap back to the chasing pack which included Coldwell. Despite a strong chase group working together, Knibb added to her lead lap after lap to set out on the run two minutes and forty-four seconds ahead of the chasers.
Coldwell ran well as this group spread out, however it was Olympic champion, Flora Duffy (BER) and French athlete Leonie Periault who made their move for the remaining podium places behind Knibb who was far and away to the race win.
Behind her, positions for points on the overall series became the focus and, despite Periault moving clear of Duffy to claim race silver, the Bermudan athlete took the series win with her bronze in Edmonton.
Knibb’s dominant performance in Canada saw her take the overall second place, with her compatriot, Taylor Spivey, third. Seventh place for Coldwell saw her maintain fifth position in the 2021 World Triathlon Championship Series, finishing as the highest placed female British athlete.
Reflecting on Coldwell’s result, Mike Cavendish, British Triathlon’s Performance Director, said: “It was another strong performance from Sophie today. She’s been steadily improving year-on-year and to end the 2021 World Triathlon Championship Series as the highest British finisher, both at the Grand Final and in the series overall, demonstrates the further step that she’s taken in 2021.”
In winning the World Triathlon Championship Series to go with their Olympic medals, both Blummenfelt and Duffy made history by being the first triathletes to do so.
The 2022 series starts in September in Hamburg, with races this year in Bermuda and Abu Dhabi all counting towards next year’s rankings having been postponed due to Covid-19.
As well as the World Triathlon Championship Finals taking place in Edmonton, the U23 World Championships were also held in the Canadian city.
Alden and Mathias were amongst the leaders from T1, with Waugh and Green part of a busy chase pack on the bike as a couple of groups merged together. On the run, Mathias and Alden pulled away with Hedgeland (AUS) and Lombardi (FRA), however the Brits were left behind as the French athlete took the initiative.
Pedersen (DEN), Koch (GER) and Coninx (FRA) all came from the chasing pack to pass Mathias and Alden in the latter stages, with Mathias (6th), Alden (7th) and Waugh (10th) all secured top-ten finishes and Green finishing 16th.
The final race of the day was the male U23 World Championships, with Cameron Main and Connor Bentley the Brits involved.
Coming out of the water and throughout the bike, Bentley was part of the first chase pack and took to the run two minutes behind the leaders, with Main a group behind.