Team GB take WTCS mixed relay silver in Leeds

The big news on race morning was the omission of Jonny Brownlee and Alex Yee from Team Great Britain’s mixed relay team, both out of action after yesterday’s bike crash in the individual men’s event; Jonny with a broken elbow, and Yee injury-free but advised to rest up.

Taking their places was Grant Sheldon and Tom Bishopalongside Georgia Taylor-Brown and Sophie Coldwellwho both medaled in yesterday’s individual women’s event. With Yee and Brownlee out, Taylor-Brown was the only remaining member of the Tokyo gold-medal winning team.

What happened on the first leg of the 2022 Leeds WTCS mixed relay race?

Australia’s Matt Hauser led from the start, leading out of the one-lap 300m swim in just over 3mins. New Zealand’s Taylor Reid was just on his heels in second, while GB’s Bishop followed after 13secs.

Hauser put in a swift T1, taking to the first of his two 3.45km bike laps on his own. But a quartet including Reid, Portugal’s Ricardo Batista and France’s Tom Richard soon swallowed him up, before the second pack, including Bishop, swiftly joined in, forming a 14-strong lead group.

On the second lap, Bishop pulled ahead on a solo breakaway, soaking up his home crowd’s adulation, but it was for nothing by T2 as he left in around 10th place.

Richard Murray, meanwhile, a South African who now races for his wife Rachel Klamer’s home nation of the Netherlands, was handed a 10sec penalty for not placing his kit in his transition box in T1.

Onto the first of two 950m run laps, Germany’s Lasse Nygaard Priester powered to the front, with Murray, one of the sport’s fastest runners, close behind. Richard, Reid, and Hungary’s Csongor Lehmann making up the rest of the leading quintet before the handover.

The first three teams to do the handover were Germany, New Zealand and France, but the majority of the 20 teams tagged their next teammate in quick succession.

What happened on the second leg of the 2022 Leeds WTCS mixed relay race?

The second leg saw the women take the baton, with Márta Kropkó of Hungary the first to lead out of the swim. Coldwell, taking over from Bishop, used her advanced swim skills to claw back seven seconds and catch the leading bike group of 11 countries.

Noticeably absent at this point was the American team, the first anchor Matthew McElroy struggling to keep pace, and making it even tough for Taylor Spivey.

Coldwell took to the front for the second lap, hoping to drop some of the group by the start of the run. But Norway, represented by Lotte Miller, were keen to show their hand here, and start the qualification process strong for what would be their first Olympic mixed relay event in Paris 2024.

Miller powered off the front to pull out a 7sec gap over a now group of six by T2. Coldwell was having none of it though, pulling out a clear lead straight out of transition ahead of Germany’s Anabel Knoll and Miller.

At the end of the first lap, Coldwell was 3secs clear of Knoll, 7secs of Belgium’s Valerie Barthelemy, 8secs of Miller, 10secs of Klamer and 12secs of Portugal’s Melanie Santos.

Spivey, meanwhile, was 1:11 secs back.

What happened on the third leg of the 2022 Leeds WTCS mixed relay race?

By the handover, the gap was just 4secs over Germany with GB’s Sheldon now needing one hell of a performance. Out of the swim the Germans were back in the lead thanks to Lasse Lührs, then it was Sheldon, the Netherlands’ Mitch Kolkman and Belgium’s Jelle Geens.

Germany and Belgium pulled out a two-man lead, leaving GB and the Netherlands in a chasing duo. But the one to watch was yesterday’s individual men’s silver medallist Leo Bergere of France, who, riding solo, was 10secs down on the leading pair by the end of lap one .

By T2 that gap was just 6secs. GB and the Netherlands, meanwhile, had been enveloped into a huge chase pack, losing 30secs by the start of the run.

Australia’s Jacob Birtwhistle was also on a mission, running into a solid fourth place, 18secs down, for the handover.

Germany and Belgium handed over with milliseconds separating them; France just 5secs behind.

With a 45sec deficit to bridge, Sheldon handed over to Taylor-Brown for the final leg.

What happened on the final leg of the 2022 Leeds WTCS mixed relay race?

Out of the swim there was nothing between the leaders, Germany’s Laura Lindemann, Belgium’s Jolien Vermeylen and France’s Audrey Merle.

Racing in no man’s land, meanwhile, was Australia’s Charlotte Mcshane in fourth, who was soon caught by Taylor-Brown and Italy’s Verena Steinhauser to form a chase pack of three, some 45secs behind.

By the end of lap one, mainly thanks to Taylor-Brown’s powerful bike effort, that gap was already down to 26secs, putting Team GB back in podium contention. At T2, the gap was just 7secs. Just a 2km run to go…

Before the end of lap one, Taylor-Brown was in third behind Lindemann in first and Merle in second. But it wasn’t long into the second lap before Taylor-Brown was in the silver medal position for Team GB.

Sadly the gap was too much to bridge to take gold, leaving Lindemann to run through for the national honors. France would follow in for bronze.

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