Birmingham bound rookies Natalie Van Coevorden and Brandon Copeland have produced confidence-boosting performances in the intense heat of Montreal today leading into next month’s Commonwealth Games.
The pair both finished in 11th in their respective Elite events in the World Triathlon Championship Series gut-wrenching Super Sprint Eliminator – missing their respective stage three finals by one place.
Campbelltown’s Van Coevorden was again the best placed of the Australian girls backing up her 11th place in Leeds - and pushing in to 13th in the overall Series pointscore.
The women’s eliminator final eventually saw Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) break away on the final bike leg to beat Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA) and Beth Potter (GBR).
In the first eliminator it was Van Coevorden, Australia’s WTCS debutant Matilda Offord and Tokyo Olympian Jaz Hedgeland who all qualified inside the top 20 for round two with Kira Hedgeland and Sophie Linn missing the cut.
And Van Coevorden, who scraped into the final 30 in last place on Saturday, was quick to react when racing reverted to a full Super Sprint Triathlon (300m swim; 7.2km bike and a 2 km run), finishing eighth in the first eliminator, before missing the stage three final by one place.
“I knew after yesterday that going back to a triathlon would play into my benefit and although I missed the qualifying by one place, I finished 11th in Leeds and 11th again today so that’s really good for my consistency and leading into Commonwealth Games it’s a really good place to be,” said Van Coevorden.
Offord certainly made her presence felt in her first WTCS race in the grueling Super Sprint Eliminator.
The youngster from Sydney’s Northern Beaches, where she trains under NSW Performance Coach Liam O’Neill was quick to respond to the words of Olympic Program Head Coach Joel Filliol that: “Position going into transition becomes one of the demanding skills where it rewards aggressive and positive racing.”
And that was certainly a standout trait developed by Offord, who experienced rubbing shoulders with the world’s best for the first time in a highly competitive series of races.
Offord, who is setting up for the Under 23 World Championship race in Abu Dhabi in November, will now line up in tomorrow’s Under 23/Junior Relay.
Kingscliff's Gold Coast-based Copeland produced a series of aggressive races right from Saturday’s qualifier and into Sunday’s cut throat rounds before collapsing over the line for 11th in the second race – his best ever WTCS finish – and a huge confidence booster.
In today’s opening eliminator Copeland was the first of the Australian trio out of the water and he worked his way out of transition cleanly to ensure he was well placed on the bike as the entire group of 30 came together.
Out of T2 and it was Copeland who ran his way into sixth as New Zealand’s Olympic bronze medallist Hayden Wilde dictated proceedings up front as he did for most of the day.
In the end Copeland maintained his place in the main group to qualify for round two with team mates Jake Birtwhistle and WTCS debutant Callum McClusky both out of the running – Birtwhistle suffering a 10 second time penalty which cost him a top 20 spot – crossing in 21st, while McClusky crossed in 28th before being disqualified for a swim course infringement.
Copeland again worked hard through the swim in the second round of 20, coming out of the water in 11th working his way towards the leaders on the bike where he sat inside the top three on the bell lap.
Coming out of transition onto the final 2km run Copeland worked his way into the top 12 before staging a belated charge to the line for an agonising 11th, but amongst the best of the best as he sets himself for his Games debut in Birmingham on July 29.
In a thrilling finale, favourites Alex Yee (GBR) and Wilde staged another thrilling finish, Yee running away in the end from Wilde, who fought his way back bravely on the bike after suffering a mechanical fault with Leo Bergere (FRA) finishing strongly for third.