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Duffy and Yee Win Super League Malibu, Taylor-Brown and Yee Crowned Series Champions

Short-course stars deliver some fast and furious racing at the fourth and final weekend of the Super League Triathlon Series.

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Super League’s thrilling month of racing came to a dramatic conclusion on the sandy beaches of Southern California yesterday as Bermuda’s Flora Duffy and Great Britain’s Alex Yee took top honors at the grand finale in Malibu. 

A second win from two races was enough for Yee to secure the top position in the overall series rankings while Georgia Taylor-Brown’s second place to Jessica Learmonth’s fourth place in Malibu was enough to unseat her compatriot at the top of the series table.

A newcomer to Super League racing, world champion and Olympic gold medalist Duffy proved to be a quick study, winning each of the three races in yesterday’s Eliminator race format. Great Britain’s Taylor-Brown was in the mix throughout the three races and ran well in the final one to place second ahead of USA’s Katie Zaferes. Series leader Learmonth could only manage fourth on the day. 

Flora Duffy wins the Super League Malibu race. Photo: Super League Triathlon.

Taylor-Brown credited some of her success here in Malibu to pure luck: “In the last race, I was in the right place at the right time (on the swim) with the wave coming in. We worked well together on the bike and then I felt comfortable on the run.” 

Despite losing her overall series lead in the final race, Learmonth remained in good spirits: “I am just glad to be alive after that swim,” she said, in reference to the surf conditions in Malibu. “Georgia and I have been pretty consistent in the series so if it’s not me that won the overall, it’s Georgia, and that’s great.”

In the men’s race, Yee outsprinted Marten Van Riel, of Belgium, to earn victory by a fraction of a second. 

“You only have to lead the last meter of the race to win,” Yee said, “and I knew this was the last race of the year, so I gave it everything I had.” 

Portugal’s Vasco Vilaca had his best race of the season to place third to earn his first ever Super League podium, just ahead of New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde. Wilde’s fourth place finish on the day guaranteed him a second place in the overall series. Great Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee had his worst placing of the season in seventh but managed to edge out Vilaca for third place overall in the series rankings.

With the Super League Series now done and dusted for 2021, we asked the competitors to share their perspective and lessons learned from the race series:

On their Super League racing debut in 2021:

Flora Duffy: “I timed this race well given that everyone else has raced three weeks in a row around the world and I came in here fresh and pretty excited to race.”

Lucy Charles-Barclay: “I always knew that I was being thrown into the deep end since I’ve only done one World Triathlon race—and Super League is even more fast and furious! You have to be so dialed with your technical skills so if I’m going to learn short-course racing this is exactly what I needed to do.”

Gustav Iden: “I didn’t have the best preparation coming into this race recovering from last week’s efforts [at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship]. I finished ninth, so that’s pretty good for me coming off a long-distance race. I had told myself that just getting into the final race would be good so I’m very happy I was able to perform in that last race.” 

Kristian Blummenfelt: “I didn’t know what to expect as it’s completely different to what I’d prepared for. I had been working towards the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in St. George last week and there were probably more turns here in one lap than there were over 90K in St George!”

Georgia Taylor-Brown and Alex Yee celebrate their Series victories. Photo: Super League Triathlon.

On race tactics:

Alex Yee: “Super League exposes every little mistake you make. In the first couple of races, I made loads of mistakes. I just wanted to learn from them and apply those lessons in the next races. It’s not only going to benefit me for Super League racing, but also into World Triathlon racing in the future.”

Vasco Vilaca: “You learn to nail all the details with such fast transitions. The race is so fast and aggressive, you can’t miss anything!”

Katie Zaferes: “The determining factor in races has been my swim. I’ve been getting caught up in the group, but I love the ocean and caught a wave on the last stage so that really helped me. Once I’m there out of the swim, I know I can go with the group—but I have to be there!”

Flora Duffy: “It’s a bit of luck out there to be perfectly honest, especially with the ocean swim. I got through the first two rounds really well as we didn’t have any waves coming in on us, either entry or exit, but on the third swim I was leading but I missed the wave and everyone else catapulted over me!” 

Photo: Super League Triathlon

On team dynamics:

Seth Rider: “I studied the points system and how I could get the most points for my team, the Eagles. Sometimes it would be more beneficial for me to work for my team and sometimes to work for Alex Yee, who was the strongest guy on our team, and who won the series overall.”

Katie Zaferes: “Being on a team makes everything more important and more significant when your whole team is depending on you. Everyone has to show up on race day for each round.”

Flora Duffy: “We had a team meeting last night and they let me know that they were close to earning third place, so every point today counted and that was important for me to remember. In that first race, I could have slowed completely down but I got [team] points for winning that round and I had that in mind.”

Kristian Blummenfelt: “I was quite scared about feeling rusty so in the first round I decided I was going to give it my best to take the five points for the team to give the Rhinos a boost in the rankings.”

Georgia Taylor-Brown: “The team dynamic is different because I want the Scorpions to do well but I’m still racing individually. In the races, I’ll look out for the other girls [on my team] and hope they get a good finish. You’re also cheering on athletes from other countries that you wouldn’t normally be supporting and cheering for.”

Hayden Wilde: “Team tactics were interesting, sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn’t but out there we had a really good team that worked together. It brings something new and fresh to the sport.”

Michael D’Hulst, CEO of Super League Triathlon: “The athletes engaged in the team format and made it exciting in the way they raced for primes and the team and individual leaderboards.”

On the series overall:

Katie Zaferes: “You have to manage your energy in between each race and getting the balance right is hard. You want to be firing for the next race, but you also need to recover after every event.”

Jessica Learmonth: “I’ve learned to recover well and try not to overdo it between races. I try to have fun and take every race as it comes—you don’t want to be thinking of the race next week but focus on what you’re doing in the moment.”

Jonathan Brownlee: “I’ve learned that I can still compete at this level, which I was not sure I could do when I started this season. I didn’t finish quite as well as I wanted but Alex Yee is an incredible athlete, he’s really become a complete athlete and that great to see.”

Hayden Wilde: “I’ve loved the events and having four races back-to-back is fantastic because I love to race. It’s a great way to show who has the speed, the endurance and versatility in triathlon.”

Vincent Luis: “Four races in four weeks is a lot and it’s intense racing. You will make mistakes and so you have to learn as you go. It’s also about trying to stay fit and not lose too much fitness as you go from race to race.”

Michael D’Hulst: “I’m always very critical and I focus on what can be improved; there are pages and pages of lessons learned. Super League is about making triathlon a spectator sport and not just a participation sport. Ultimately, it’s first across the line that wins but we also have different elements and tactics that play a role in the race. We have a great commentary team and we’re working more with graphics to explain the racing on television to casual viewers and new fans.”

 

Results

Super League Triathlon Malibu 2021: Women’s Eliminator 

  1. Flora Duffy (BER) 48:26
  2. Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) 48:29
  3. Katie Zaferes (USA) 48:59
  4. Jess Learmonth (GBR) 48:57
  5. Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA) 49:39
  6. Leonie Periault (FRA) 49:35
  7. Non Stanford (GBR) 49:21
  8. Taylor Spivey (USA) 49:43
  9. Rachel Klamer (NED) 49:47
  10. Beth Potter (GBR) 49:48

Super League Triathlon Malibu 2021: Men’s Eliminator 

  1. Alex Yee (GBR) 44:59
  2. Marten Van Riel (BEL) 45:21
  3. Vasco Vilaca (POR) 45:15
  4. Hayden Wilde (NZ) 45:05
  5. Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) 44:48
  6. Vincent Luis (FRA) 45:16
  7. Jonny Brownlee (GBR) 45:19
  8. Tayler Reid (NZ) 45:42
  9. Gustav Iden (NOR) 45:56
  10. Matthew Hauser (AUS) 45:57

Super League Triathlon Final Standings

Women:

1. Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) 60 points

2. Jess Learmonth (GBR) 59 points

3. Katie Zaferes (USA) 49 points

4. Beth Potter (GBR) 39 points

5. Vicky Holland (GBR) 38 points

6. Taylor Spivey (USA) 37 points

7. Leonie Periault (FRA) 34 points

8. Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA) 33 points

9. Sophie Coldwell (GBR) 30 points

10. Rachel Klamer (NED) 25 points

Men: 

1. Alex Yee (GBR) 59 points

2. Hayden Wilde (NZ) 54 points

3. Jonny Brownlee (GBR) 50 points

4. Vasco Vilaca (POR) 49 points

5. Vincent Luis (FRA) 47 points

6. Marten Van Riel (BEL) 39 points

7. Seth Rider (USA) 26 points

8. Kenji Nener (JP) 21 points

9. Matthew Hauser (AUS) 19 points

10. Tayler Reid (NZ) 17 points

Teams

(Winning team split $120K, 2nd split 80k, 3rd split 60k) 

1. Eagles 362 points

2. Scorpions 277 points

3. Sharks 258 points

4. Cheetahs 232 points

5. Rhinos 199 points