The opening of the World Triathlon Series this Saturday, in Yokohama, was copiously watered. Falling for several days on the port city of 3.7 million inhabitants (second largest city in Japan!), the rain did not stop during this first round of the WTCS. And it hardly brought luck to Marten Van Riel who, after having tried to escape by bike (his strong point…), had a difficult journey on foot.
The Antwerp resident finally finished 12th, completing this event over the Olympic distance (1,500 m swim, 40 km bike and 10 km walk) in 1h45.12, 1.42 behind Briton Alex Yee, winner in the sprint in 1h43 .30 ahead of New Zealander Hayden Wilde.
Coming out of the water in 11th position, Marten joined a leading peloton of around thirty triathletes in the company of Erwin Vanderplancke, the second Belgian entered, who nevertheless had to let go of the group along the way. After the second transition, Van Riel could not fight for the podium, leaving the Yee-Wilde duo to fight for the final victory while Erwin finished in 39th place, in 1:48.02.
Victim of a broken sacrum, Jelle Geens was not recovered for this Japanese round, where he finished second last year.
On the women’s side, in the absence of Claire Michel, victim of Covid-19, Valérie Barthelemy ranked 19th, in 1h57.12. The Belgian-American narrowly missed the leading group of about fifteen triathletes. In it, the Bermudanian Flora Dufy, Olympic champion, had to leave the British Georgia Taylor-Brown and the French Léonie Periault to compete for victory in the race. The final acceleration of the Olympic vice-champion allowed her to beat the Frenchwoman in 1h51.44, Dufy completing the podium.
See you on June 11 and 12, in Leeds, for the rest of these World Triathlon Series…