Belgium's Maurine Ricour claims gold at the 2022 World Games Duathlon

by Olalla Cernuda on 16 Jul, 2022 04:55 • Español
Belgium's Maurine Ricour claims gold at the 2022 World Games Duathlon

It was a career-best performance for Belgium’s Maurine Ricour, who claimed in Birmingham, USA, the Duathlon World Games title after a powerful second run who put her in the first position of a controversial race that finished with 12 athletes being disqualified for cutting the bike course. Along with her on the podium were 2013 Cali World Games winner, Ai Ueda (JPN), while the bronze medal was for the current Duathlon World Champion Joselyn Daniely Brea Abreu (VEN).

Twenty four athletes lined up in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, on a hot and humid morning ready for the 10km run, 40km bike course and a final 5km run on a course quite flat, but with so many turns and laps that ended up being a trap for many athletes.

Wearing number one at the start was Joselyn Brea Abreu, current world champion after a clear victory in Targu Mures a month ago, and looking for extended her dominance over the duathlon a bit further. She took the lead of the race as soon as she heard the gun, with her younger sister Edymar Daniely Brea Abreu right on her shoulder. Along with the Venezuelan duo went some other great names of the Duathlon speciality, like Ai Ueda, Marion Legrand (FRA), Sandrina Illes (AUT) and Mexican’s Luisa Daniela Baca Vargas and Guadalupe Jazmin Aguilar Corona.

As soon as they entered the Railroad park for the first time, they started dropping athletes that lap by lap was stretched to a long tale, with the kilometers on the legs and the heat impacting in the race from the early stages. By the time the athletes finished the 10km to start the bike course, one of them had been already lapped, Diana Gal (ROU).

The leading group of six including Ueda, both Breu Abrea sisters, Legrand, Illes and Ann Schoot Uiterkamp (NED) had an easy transition to start the first of the six bike laps, each of them with 19 sharp turns, and opened more than a minute advantage with the group of chasers, that included some fast runners like Merle Brunnée (GER), Lotte Claes (BEL) or Garance Blaut (FRA). And it was on the second lap in one of those turns, with the leading athletes not on sight for the chasers, when chaos started. The chasing group got lost and suddenly, by the next time the athletes passed through transition, the five initial leaders -Joselyn Brea, Ueda, Ricour, Legrand and Illes- were the second group, 30 seconds behind a large group of 9 athletes.

Both the leaders and the chasers managed to stay focused despite coaches, media and spectators’ confusion, and while the officials were deciding what had happened.

By the time the athletes hit transition for the second time, it was clear that many athletes would be disqualified for cutting out the bike course, so it was a matter of trying to see what was their real position on the race. The last 5km run was just a masterclass of running under extreme circumstances for Ricour. The Belgian had the extra gear on her legs enough to breach the gap with the leading group out of the bike and with a split of 17.33 crossed the finish line in second place, only behind Blaut, who crossed in first place but was one of the disqualified athletes.

“Normally I’m not really fast in the last transition, but this time everything went really well. I felt the legs were going great, I had good feelings, and I was just thinking stay running, keep pushing, so I just continued. Usually Ai (Ueda) and Joselyn (Brea) are faster than me but today I was the fastest one, so I am really happy”, said the champion.

“During the first lap of the bike, we (the chasing group) got lost. We were over one minute behind and then we were in front so we must have taken a wrong turn” explained Blaut.

Fifth in the finish line, but second taking out all the disqualified athletes, was Japan’s Ueda, with another consistent performance after her bronze medal in the Duathlon World Championships this year and the silver medal in Aviles in 2021. “I am very happy with my performance. This was a very technical bike course so it took me a while to learn the course and manage all the turns, but I am really happy with the result”, said Ueda, who is really looking forward to compete again on Sunday on the 2x2 Mixed Relay.

The bronze medal was for an exhausted Brea, who had to fight to keep Frenchwoman Legrand behind her. “I was just too tired after the bike so I had not enough on my legs to push in the final run, but still managed to get the bronce medal today. Is a medal that is really important for my country, so for me it is like a gold one”, said bronze medallist Brea, who is flying tomorrow early morning to Eugene (Oregon, EEUU), to represent her country in the World Athletics Championships.

Some of the disqualified athletes appealed to the Competition Jury after the race, but the appeal was dismissed.

Article gallery
Related Event: 2022 Birmingham World Games
16 - 17 Jul, 2022 • event pageall results
Results: Elite Men
1. Maxime Hueber-Moosbrugger FRA 01:47:57
2. Benjamin Choquert FRA 01:48:20
3. Victor Emmanuel Zambrano Gonzalez MEX 01:48:56
4. Angelo Vandecasteele BEL 01:49:04
5. Arnaud Dely BEL 01:49:32
Results: Elite Women
1. Maurine Ricour BEL 02:01:38
2. Ai Ueda JPN 02:01:58
3. Joselyn Daniely Brea Abreu VEN 02:02:42
4. Marion Legrand FRA 02:02:58
5. Sandrina Illes AUT 02:03:49
Results: 2x2 Mixed Relay
1. Team I France FRA 01:18:25
2. Team I Belgium BEL 01:19:25
DSQ. Team I United States USA DSQ
DNS. Team II United States USA DNS
DNS. Team III Belgium BEL DNS
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