Australia’s Matt Hauser has given his Commonwealth Games aspirations a timely boost, claiming his first ever World Triathlon Championship Series medal with a stirring silver in Hamburg overnight.
It comes after Australia’s Tokyo Paralympic silver medallist Lauren Parker, Jeremy Peacock and Justin Godfrey all claimed gold medals at the World Triathlon Para Series in Montreal the day before.
Hauser is running into form at the right time as the Australian team puts its finishing touches to this month’s Games assault, the first individual medal event in Birmingham set down for July 29.
Hamburg proved to be the perfect fore-runner for Hauser who unleashed a happy return to Germany’s triathlon capital for the 24-year-old from Queensland - spurred on by memories of his 2017 successes.
It was in Hamburg where Hauser was part of the World Championship Mixed Relay team that won gold and the same year he won the World Junior title in Rotterdam.
“I’m stoked (to win the silver and claim my first WTCS podium) something that has been in my mind for a long time coming,” said Hauser.
“I had a great result earlier on in the year in Yokohama (where I was fourth) and I was able to show my run form there.
“And to be honest I had an exciting feeling that Hamburg held something special for me this weekend and if I was given the opportunity I would grab it with two hands and I’ll be coming back next year for sure.”
Hauser was always in the hunt over the sprint distance (750m swim; 20km bike, 5km run) course, exiting the water in fifth place before tackling the tight, technical 20km bike course through the packed streets of Hamburg.
The bike saw South African Jamie Riddle stage a brave breakaway before being swallowed up by 30-strong peloton as the major contenders jostled for positions heading into the run.
It was a chaotic transition from bike to run that left eventual winner, New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde momentarily off the pace as he weaved his way through the throng of athletes disposing of their bikes.
And it also saw the determined Hauser position himself perfectly to execute his powerful run leg in the hunt for that breakthrough WTCS podium.
Hauser sat patiently early, taking over the lead before Tokyo bronze medallist Wilde, with speed to burn, took control with two kilometres to run.
He stole a march on Hauser for the charge home with the Australian staying in touch but unable to peg back the talented Kiwi.
Wilde claiming the victory in 53 minutes 10 seconds from Hauser, who stormed home in 53:13 to seal the Trans Tasman quinella with Jawad Abdelmoula (53:26) out-sprinting consistent Frenchman Leo Bergere (53.29) to grab Morocco’s first ever WTCS podium.
“It was great to be in a good position after the swim considering the tight and technical nature of the bike and the pace was on throughout and those cross and head winds made for a high power ride,” said Hauser.
“Thankfully everyone was smart and stayed safe on a course which has historically been quite treacherous.”
Hauser also reflected on the Aussie spirit that drives him on and the upcoming Commonwealth Games where he will again clash head on with Series leader Wilde and Great Britain’s inform Tokyo silver medallist Alex Yee, who sat out today’s race as he prepares for his home Games.
“The Aussie spirit never dies, we always say that and we’ll continue to bring our spirit, drive and competitiveness into the Commonwealth Games,” said Hauser.
“At the end of the day we are a strong hold team...and we’ll continue to do our best on the world stage....that’s all we can do.
“But I think we’re quite privileged to have two of the strongest men in WTCS (in Wilde and Yee) racing in the Commonwealth.
“And it was a satisfying feeling being up with the pace this time around and hopefully I’ll be able to replicate that come Birmingham.
“Our success is a credit to our squad environment with Dan Atkins in Banyoles (Spain) where we’ve all started to realise some successes the past few months and it’s a great reward for our resilience.”
The other Australians in today’s races Luke Willian and 2019 winner and Hauser’s Birmingham team mate Jake Birtwhistle were 27th and 39th respectively while Australia’s third Games representative Brandon Copeland was forced out of Hamburg with Covid, as he prepares for his Birmingham debut.
In the women’s race it was Games debutant, South Australia’s US-based Sophie Linn who was the best of the Aussies with a strong finishing 20th in a race that saw three-time world champion and Olympic gold medallist, Bermuda’s Flora Duffy over-come a 10second penalty to win a fourth Hamburg title from spirited Scot, Beth Potter (GBR) with Lisa Tertsch (GER) claiming her first podium.
Australians Jaz Hedgeland and Birmingham-bound Charlotte McShane were 23rd and 35th respectively with Kira Hedgeland also forced to isolate after an untimely overnight Covid positive on the eve of the race.
And in an unfortunate mishap, Australia’s leading WTC Series athlete Natalie Van Coevorden was forced to withdraw from the race early on the bike course after hitting a stone, forcing her off her bike and ultimately out of the race.
But tomorrow’s Mixed Relay awaits where Van Coevorden will get her chance to show the consistency which has made her Australia’s top ranked female in the Series alongside teammates Willian, Hauser and Linn.
Australian Results: Elite Women
20. Sophie Linn (59.45)
23. Jaz Hedgeland (59.50)
35. Charlotte McShane (1:00:35)
DNF Natalie Van Coevorden
DNS Kira Hedgeland
Australian Results: Elite Men
2. Matt Hauser (53.13)
27. Luke Willian (54.21)
39. Jake Birtwhistle (55.16)
DNS Brandon Copeland