Tokyo Olympian and dual 2022 Commonwealth Games medallist Matt Hauser has jumped into the Maurice Lacroix World Triathlon Championship Rankings top ten after another solid showing when Cagliari (ITA) hosted its first ever WTCS race.
Hauser fought back to cross the line in 11th place after being in the mix for the entire day which saw Birmingham gold medallist Alex Yee (GBR) overcome cramps to take the victory.
Yee held on to keep compatriot, dual Olympic medallist Jonny Brownlee at bay in a stirring return to the podium for the younger Brownlee brother, the first time since 2019.
Hauser showed all his surf swimming skills over the tricky windswept swim course, which started off the beach – rips running out on the right-hand side and wind chop making it testing for the 50-strong field.
The boy who grew up swimming in the open water around Hervey Bay and Caloundra used all his surf swimming and wading skills to master the 2 x750m in-and-out course in spectacular fashion.
Hauser hit the first transition in second place along-side Hungarian Mark Devay and the pair were able to steal a march on the field with Yee and Brownlee amongst those towards the back end of the field.
It wasn’t long before the two leaders were swallowed up by the pack as the cat and mouse games began with Frenchman Leo Bergere staging the first breakaway before Japan’s Jumpei Furuya and Brownlee teamed up to put pressure on the field.
It was a masterclass of how to break away from a large pack, leaving the chasers, including Hauser and fellow Australians Luke Willian and Brandon Copeland some 30 seconds behind.
Hauser looked to be struggling in the middle of the run but as he does so often, found a second wind to hang in on a tough day’s racing which saw ten starters, including the likes of former world champion Mario Mola, Richard Varga and Richard Murray all fail to finish in the testing, hot conditions.
Australia’s Luke Willian also hung tough to finish in 18th with Copeland in 36th.
Hauser, who has had a busy racing schedule at the Super League Series (which sees him in second place with one round remaining) post Birmingham, will return home for two weeks after a long period overseas.
He will join Triathlon Australia QLD Performance Centre Head Coach Dan Atkins on the Gold Coast this week to prepare for the final Super League Grand Finale in Neom (Saudi Arabia) on October 29 before the WTCS Grand Final in Abu Dhabi from November 23-26.
The elite women took to the start line earlier in the day, with the race won confidently by WTCS leader and Birmingham silver medallist Georgia Taylor-Brown in her third win of the series.
Taylor-Brown once again unleashed her impressive form to claim victory from Emma Lombardi (FRA), stepping onto her first ever WTCS podium at just 20 years of age, and Taylor Knibb (USA) who managed to lead a bike break that paved the way for the athletes on the front even though she had been almost a minute behind the leaders out of the water.
The Australian women pushed hard to maintain position through the swim leg staged in flat swimming conditions and worked hard in the chase group throughout the ten laps of the 3.8km bike course, but hot conditions proved tough when heading onto the run leg to round out the race.
Australia’s Tokyo Olympian Jaz Hedgeland was the best of the Aussie girls, digging deep over the 10km run after riding with fellow Aussies, Commonwealth Games Mixed Team relay bronze medallists Sophie Linn and Natalie Van Covorden and London Olympian Emma Jackson.
Jaz Hedgeland ran on strongly to finish 19th, ahead of Linn (22nd), Jackson (24th) and Van Coevorden (25th) and Kira Hedgeland (44th).
Van Coevorden is the highest ranked of the Australians in the overall WTCS rankings, sitting in 22nd with Jaz Hedgeland (37th), Kira Hedgeland (44th), Linn (45th) and Charlotte McShane (46th).