Cassandre Beaugrand kicked off Bahrain Victorious 13’s exploits this past week, winning silver in the individual Olympic triathlon test event in Paris on Thursday.
The Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist and super sprint world champion raced in front of a cheering home crowd to finish as top French athlete and secure her Paris berth with the day’s third-best swim over 1.5 kilometres, riding in the lead pack for the 40-kilometre cycle leg and pushing the pace on the 10-kilometre run before being outsprinted by six seconds on the final stretch.
“I am not going to lie, it was a tough one,” she said, recounting how the slippery cobblestones on the bike course had the competitors riding nervously. “I don’t know how I made it to the end, I was cramping after the first lap on my legs… I gave it everything I had and have no regrets. The crowd was amazing. I was so disappointed not to win but maybe next year.”
She added, “I was feeling good on the swim and on the bike but I think I missed a bit of energy to the run and I think that’s why I was cramping. I will try and fix it for the last race of the season.”
On Sunday, Beaugrand also brought France to the front in her leg of the mixed relay with a big bike and run, and handed off with a 10-second lead before the team ultimately finished fourth.
Lauren Parker won her test event on Saturday, despite poor water quality turning the paratriathlon into a duathlon. The Australian triple world champion and Tokyo Paralympic silver medalist kept the pace consistent on the first run before turning up the heat on the bike to outstrip the field by more than a minute at the finish.
She said, “A duathlon doesn’t work to my strengths because I am a swimmer, but I really had to change the mindset and focus on the positives and just really work hard for it. Such a challenging course, lots to think about, but I am super happy to take the win today… It gives me a lot of confidence leading into next year.”
The men’s race on Friday was more eventful: Vincent Luis came second out of the water and rode in the lead pack before dropping out on the run in pain that was later diagnosed as a torn soleus. Hayden Wilde also pulled the plug on the run despite swimming and riding well in the chase pack, choosing not to push a bruised hip from a crash in the morning warm-up. Henri Schoeman was 13th out of the water but a tyre puncture on the second lap put an end to his race.
Beaugrand, Wilde, and Schoeman will now head to London for the first race of the Super League Triathlon Championship Series, where they will compete for individual titles and bonuses and begin the campaign to defend the team title for the Bahrain Victorious Scorpions.
Meanwhile in Singapore, Amelia Watkinson raced over the 100-kilometre triathlon distance to finish 6th at the PTO Asian Open and take home a share of the USD $600,000 prize purse. The Kiwi will back up to race the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Lahti, Finland next week, lining up alongside Holly Lawrence and Daniela Ryf on the start line.