2023 Rewind: Men’s World Triathlon Championship Series
With the dust fully settled on the blue carpet action for 2023, it is time to fully absorb just what took place across one of the greatest Series seasons we have ever seen: ten men from eight nations shared the medals, five of whom went into the finals with a realistic shot at the title. As we now know, there was one man who overcame the longest odds of that quintet to seal the deal.
Six WTCS races, the Paris Test Event and the Championship Finals Pontevedra comprised the season, and it all boiled down to one unforgettable September afternoon in the north west of Spain. It was there in Pontevedra that Dorian Coninx of France took a leaf out of compatriot Leo Bergere’s 2022 playbook to perform a remarkable smash-and-grab on the title, pulverising a 500-point deficit thanks to a massive sprint finish to his first win of the season on the biggest stage of them all.
All on the line ahead of Paris
Coninx has since revealed that he wasn’t always fully on board with his coach’s plan to open up a two-month training block ahead of the Paris Test Event. Stretching from Cagliari in late-May to the August Test Event, it left no room for a bad race if he was to gather enough points to challenge for the title. As it happened, the 29-year-old didn’t finish outside the top 5 all year and saved the very best for the very end.
The Frenchman began proceedings with fifth in the Abu Dhabi season opener, where Alex Yee scooped his first of three golds and Vasco Vilaca won silver ahead of Brazil’s Manoel Messias in a race that was also notable for Hayden Wilde finishing 48th after riding the full 20km with a flat.
Wilde shrugged off that disappointment to win in Yokohama ahead of Matthew Hauser and Vilaca, with Coninx and Bergere 4th and 5th. Suddenly the season’s narrative began to take shape, Yee winning again in Cagliari a few weeks later, just out-running Wilde to the gold, Bergere and Coninx this time in 3rd and 4th.
Hauser and Le Corre record first Series wins
Suddenly in the form of his life too, Hauser then won his first Series gold in Montreal, before an almighty battle over two days of super-sprint action in Hamburg saw Wilde take the win from Vilaca and Yee. Then it was another Frenchman, Pierre Le Corre with the gold in Sunderland after a monumental sprint finish with Bergere, Wilde with bronze.
Yee again took the podium top spot with a commanding display in the sunshine of a Paris Test Event, Wilde forced to pull out early on the run with an injury leaving Vilaca, Coninx, Bergere and Le Corre to scoop the precious points that set up a five-way shootout for the 2023 world title in Pontevedra.
Championship Finals deliver yet more drama
It was on the Galician coast that the French were able to take full control at the front of the race, while a 15-second penalty for dropping his cap coming out of the swim left Wilde too far off the pace in the second chase pack, Yee stranded in a third pack and losing ground with every lap.
Up ahead, Vasco Vilaca’s challenge faded over the final stages of the run, leaving Coninx and Bergere to slug it out over the closing lap, Coninx eventually hitting the blue carpet for the final time in 2023 shoulder-to-shoulder with Le Corre and Tim Hellwig, edging the sprint finish to win his first world title in the most dramatic of finales and send the crowds wild.
The Series silver was scant consolation for Hayden Wilde, his dreams dashed by a flying Frenchman for the second year in succession, Leo Bergere taking the overall bronze after another brilliantly consistent year on the blue carpet.
11:38 - 24 Oct, 2023