By Chelsea White on 08/01/16 at 9:30 am
In the seventh edition of the ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships, France scored its first World Championship title in a down to the line fight. After Great Britain edged out the team in 2014, this year it was France’s turn to put themselves on the top of the competition.
The city of Hamburg, Germany was good to the nation of France in 2015.
Hamburg became the city that granted young Frenchman Vincent Luis his first-ever career WTS victory, that would also give France its first elite to claim a WTS title as well.
But the following day, Hamburg’s generosity continued as France was also crowned the Mixed Relay World Champions. The team consisting of Luis, Dorian Coninx, Audrey Merle and Jeanne Lehair combined to give France its first World Champion title in one of the most anticipated events of the triathlon season.
During the competition, Great Britain, Germany and Australia positioned themselves as leaders on the first leg of the woman-man-woman-man relay, but no guarantee was given to any of them as they couldn’t manage a break big enough to fend off the fast French team. Despite a 17-second deficit after the first leg, France’s Coninx was key in getting France back up to the top trio.
From there it was a fight between the four Federations as the final two athletes prepared to tag off from their teammates. Great Britain’s Non Stanford bossed her way through the swim after the team’s second leg lagged slightly behind. A monster run earned her teammate Mark Buckingham some extra seconds in hopes of securing a gap that would fend off France’s anchor Luis.
But Buckingham lost the advantage in the water and was overtaken by World Triathlon Hamburg men’s individual gold medallist Luis as well as Australia’s Ryan Bailie. Back to a four-team breakaway, the men settled together on the two-lap 6.6km bike.
Although the foursome came into the final transition together, Bailie and Luis bolted out in front of Germany’s Gregor Buchholz and Great Britain’s Buckingham. In a similar story as Saturday’s individual race, Luis found himself in a dual fight until the finale 200 metres, this time with Bailie instead of four-time World Champion Javier Gomez. And just like in the elite men’s race, Luis found another gear late in the race to pull away from Bailie to secure France’s first-ever Mixed Relay World Championship title leaving silver to Australia.