Pierre Le Corre delivers another outstanding run to claim gold at Tangier World Cup
Pierre Le Corre timed his move to perfection to run away with victory in Tangier, only a week after his spectacular podium result in Pontevedra Championship Finals. The Frenchman was accompanied on the podium by Spain’s David Cantero del Campo, back on the podium after a disappointing 12th place at the U23 World Championships, while Norway’s Vetle Bergsvik Thorn sealed the battle for bronze in Morocco.
The first-ever World Cup in Morocco matched the expectations, with Tangier providing a perfect backdrop for a fast Sprint race that pushed the athletes to their limit. And similar to the women’s race hosted three hours before, the men enjoyed a sun and windy day, with water temperatures dropping to 18 degrees, so a wetsuit swim despite the warm conditions on the beach.
The wind picked up right before the start of the men’s race, which combined with the high tide made the athletes run to the water shorter, but also the waves considerably higher than on the women’s race. And it was South Africa’s Jamie Riddle who delivered a masterclass of swimming straight through the high waves to the buoys and back to the shore, almost 20 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. The young South African even had time to look back and wait for the waves to come and help him to get out of the water, with the rest of the field stepping on the sand over 10 seconds behind.
Riddle managed to make it alone to the first transition and start the bike solo, only to stop briefly with mechanical problems in the first round-abound. Behind him, Ricardo Batista (POR) and Angel Sanchez Carreras (ESP), both of them with powerful swims, were on the chase, while a small group with Jonas Schomburg (GER), Vettle Thorn, Esteban Basanta (ESP), Pierre Le Corre (FRA), Tom Richard (FRA), Paul Georgenthum (FRA) or Panagiotis Bitados (GRE), to name a few, were trying to get organised before it was too late to catch the leaders.
Another strong biker like Tyler Mislawchuk (CAN) was out of the race early due to a mechanical first and a bike crash right afterwards, just the oposite order as Ricardo Batista, who had a crash in the same round-about one lap later when he was leading the race with Sanchez Carreras. The Spaniard then was caught by the chasing group, and as a twenty-men large train they navigated the second half of the bike course, with Schomburg first and Bitados a little bit later trying all they could to try to break away form the group.
But all their efforts were in vain, and the large group made it to the second transition together. It was Schomburg hitting the blue carpet first, followed by four Frenchmen -Le Corre, Richard, Louis Vitiello and Valentin Morlec-, with Esteban Basanta, Jamie Riddle and Casper Stornes (NOR) also in the mix, while Thorn and Cantero were trapped in the middle of the large group, and left the transition slightly behind the leaders.
But Cantero was on a mission right from the start, and the youngest of the Spanish team -only 20 years old, the youngest ever winner of a World Cup, in Valencia last month- went full gas to chase Pierre Le Corre in the first kilometer, and together they passed the other Frenchmen and Schomburg to finish the first lap on the lead, Le Corre letting Cantero always up front to try to save some legs for the final push.
Behind the leading duo, the battle for bronze was unfolding with Thorn slightly ahead of a group of 8 running at the same pace: Riddle, Richard, Morlec, Vitiello, Harry Leleu (GBR), Schomburg and Mitch Kolkman (NED). But the 5k under the sun and strong wind in Tangier made an impact on the legs of many, and with one kilometer to go it looked like Thorn will be able to secure a medal, while Le Corre managed to break away from Cantero to face the blue carpet solo.
Le Corre crossed the finish line in first place 13 seconds ahead of Cantero, another great result for the Frenchman after securing his ticket for the Paris 24 Olympics with his third place at the Pontevedra Championship Finals last week. “It was a good race for me today, a great race to finish the season. I was sick all week so I was afraid that I couldn’t deliver today, but at the end I managed to do it. David was really strong on the run, and I was afraid of the heat, so I stayed behind and with him as much as I could and then pushed hard at the end. And to deliver in front of the Moroccan crowd was amazing”, said Le Corre after crossing the finish line.
Cantero was delighted with his second place, second podium for him after his victory on home soil in Valencia World Cup. “For me this means a lot. After winning in Valencia I was really dissapointed with my 12th place at the U23 World Championships, but today I delivered and I trust myself now. For me the Sprint distance was great, as I managed to stay with the group not too far behind on the swim, so then I was on the big group of the bike. I tried as much as I could to leave Pierre behind but I couldn’t, congratulations to him”, he explained.
Vettle Thorn was also extremely happy with his third place, the best result for him after his two gold medals at the European Games. “I didn’t feel great today, I’ve been a bit sick after Pontevedra and I have done a lot of travel this week, so I didn’t feel well prepared for the race, so I decided to take it easy. I didn’t have a great swim and I had to fight to make it to the lead group on the bike, but then on the run I felt great again and I had the legs, so I pushed and went for it. Today was a bit up and down all the day, but it did pay off”, he said.
Harry Leleu had a career best fourth place in Tangier, with vitiello and Morlec behind him on the finisg line. Seventh place was for Jamie Riddle, followed by Mitch Kolkman, Tom Richard and Richard Murray (NED) closing the top 10. The French team managed not only to get the victory, but also had four men on the top ten, but the fastest run split on the day was for Great Britain’s Hugo Milner, whose 14’18’’ -15 seconds faster than Pierre le Corre- put him on the 21st place overall.