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‘Just empty’ Reid battles to seventh

TRIATHLON

“EVERYTHING was starting to go dark” for Tayler Reid when the front-runners in the leading group surged with less than a kilometre to go.

He had stayed in contention for the first hundred minutes of the elite men’s 2021 World Triathlon Championship Finals in Edmonton on Sunday (NZ time).

Before the race, Reid knew he was in good form, but he surprised himself with how he was able to keep pace during the run leg.

“The pace was my only focus,” he said.

“I was thinking, ‘Just hold on for another lap,’ the whole way and then I was still there at the final lap.

“But with less than one kilometre to go the front guys surged. I was just empty and everything was starting to go dark.”

Nevertheless, Reid battled to the end and finished seventh, recording the same time — 1 hour 44 minutes 26 seconds — as the sixth-placed finisher, Dorian Coninx, of France. They both finished 12 seconds behind the race winner, Norway’s Olympic gold medallist Kristian Blummenfelt.

Reid was “absolutely stoked” to see how much he’d improved — to go over nine kilometres with the Olympic champion.

His time for the 10-kilometre run, 30:59, was the ninth-best of the race and just 16 seconds slower than that of New Zealand 5000-metre and triathlon champion Hayden Wilde, who had the second-fastest run time but finished 14th.

The run leg is regarded as Reid’s weakest link, but after coming off the bike with the chasing pack driven by Blummenfelt, he was able to keep pace with them into the last kilometre.

Less than a month before, Reid had fallen off the pace in blistering heat at the Tokyo Olympic Games and come in 18th.

In the more temperate Canadian conditions, he was able to mount a serious challenge before the repeated surges of Blummenfelt took their toll on the leading group.

Reid said he had to “dig all the way to the finish”. Once over the line, he collapsed and spent the next five minutes throwing up.

“The swim was a bit rough,” he said.

“I got a bit tangled early on and was quite far back at the end of the first lap, but I worked my way back up.”

Reid was fifth coming out of the water, in a time of 18:20 for the 1.5km, but he struggled to get into his rhythm on the bike.

He said it was unusual having to ride with the peloton, but they were able to make up a lot of ground over the 40km of the cycle leg and close the gap going into the run.

Blummenfelt became the first man to win the Olympic triathlon gold medal and the world title in the same year.

Martin Van Riel (Belgium), 2020 champion Vincent Luis (France) and Mark Devay (Hungary) had piled on the pressure with a break in the bike leg, but Blummenfelt drove a large chasing train to ensure he was still in touch going into the run.

Over the last two kilometres, Blummenfelt put in a series of surges that whittled the contenders down to three. He, Van Riel and Leo Bergere (France) summoned an almighty sprint for the line. Blummenfelt finished first, Van Riel was second, credited with the same time, and Bergere was third.

The win gave Blummenfelt the series title, Van Riel was second, and British athlete and pre-race contender Alex Yee secured the overall bronze by finishing 11th.

Reid’s seventh placing in Edmonton lifted him to 13th in the series rankings and 29th in the world.

With his eighth-place finish in Montreal the previous week, Reid is in prime form for events in Hamburg, Bermuda and Abu Dhabi coming up in the next three months.

CHUFFED: Tayler Reid surprised himself in Canada. World Triathlon picture by Wagner Araujo