Jake Birtwhistle has put together a thrilling race at Hamburg Wasser World Triathlon overnight to claim his second World Triathlon Series win of the season, only mere weeks out from the all-important Tokyo 2020 test event.
In what came down to an exhilarating sprint finish against France’s Vincent Luis, Birtwhistle proved that he can hang with the best of them, backing up his maiden WTS win in Leeds with gold in Hamburg.
Narrowly avoiding a horrific crash on the bike which took down race leaders Jonathan Brownlee (GBR), Fernando Alarza (ESP), Dorian Coninx (FRA) and Henri Schoeman (RSA), Birtwhistle held his mettle to head out onto the run in fifth.
Over the next five kilometres, Birtwhistle, Luis, Mario Mola (ESP), Hayden Wilde (NZL), Jelle Geens (BEL) and Leo Bergere (FRA) pursued a game of cat and mouse, taking turns to attempt to make their break from the group.
With the finish nearly in sight, Luis picked his moment to go, forcing Birtwhistle to respond and bring the race to a sprint finish, with the Australian putting the hammer down and overcoming the Series Leader in the final few metres to take gold.
Speaking to ITU Media, Birtwhistle said that the win in Hamburg is a huge confidence boost ahead of key events in coming months.
“Today was just one of those awesome races,” Birtwhistle said.
“Obviously it was a bit sketchy out there with the wet roads, and I’m not exactly sure what happened out there but it didn’t look good, and I’m thinking about, I think it was [Andreas] Schilling (DEN) that went down, so I hope he’s okay.”
“Once we got onto that run and you knew we were all safe from there, it was almost like a training session for us guys out the front there.”
“[I’m] really happy to come away with the win today. I thought I had a little bit left in the tank when Vince went past me, I knew I just had to stick with him until that last 100m or so, and thankfully just managed to get over the top of him.”
The win makes Birtwhistle the only male to secure multiple WTS titles this season so far, placing him in good stead ahead of next month’s Tokyo 2020 test event and the WTS Grand Final.
Aaron Royle hung tough through a testing bike leg to produce another consistent WTS result, taking home 12th in 00:55:46.
Caught up in the major crash of the race, Ryan Fisher showed courage and tenacity as he pushed through to finish in an honourable 15th.
Youngster Luke Willian climbed his way back into the race from 34th off the bike to sprint home to 22nd in another steady result for the 23-year old. While Ryan Bailie ran into trouble on the final leg of the race after a solid ride to take out 37th.
Battling tough conditions and a highly competitive field, Emma Jackson backed up her breakthrough seventh place finish in Montreal last week with a promising 20th in Hamburg overnight.
Fighting her way back into the race from 33rd following a demanding swim, Jackson held strong on the bike, before making her move on the run and chasing down the competition to claim 20th in 01:01:13.
Natalie Van Coevorden, Emma Jeffcoat, Charlotte McShane and Gillian Backhouse all fought the wet and slippery conditions to finish 32nd, 36th, 40th and 47th, respectively.
Great Britain’s Non Stanford put forward a gutsy run home for her first victory of the 2019 season. After strong performances in the swim and on the bike, Stanford took advantage of a small gap in the field heading out of the final transition, making her move off the front and taking the race into her own hands. Despite a hungry Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA) hot on her heels, Stanford held on to take home the win, with Beaugrand claiming second and Summer Rappaport (USA) in third.
The World Triathlon Series now prepares for the Mixed Team Relay World Championships to be held on Sunday July 7 in Hamburg.
2019 Hamburg Wasser World Triathlon
20th Emma Jackson
32nd Natalie Van Coevorden
36th Emma Jeffcoat
40th Charlotte McShane
47th Gillian Backhouse
1st Jake Birtwhistle
12th Aaron Royle
15th Ryan Fisher
22nd Luke Willian
37th Ryan Bailie
Image: Ben Lumley Photography | ITU Media