Last Weekend Now: A Wilde and Grande Weekend at Super League London
It’s Super League Championship season, and our columnist quickly tackles the important things like SLT teams and kits, as well as some very exciting rivalries played out in super-sprint time.
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Last Weekend Now is your weekly commentary on what’s happening in pro triathlon, brought to you by Brad Culp. (Ed note: So yell at him if you don’t like the comments.)
The 2022 Super League Championship season got underway in London on Sunday, and it looks like we’re in for the weirdest and wildest Super League season yet. We had athletes running into team managers; people wondering why there are teams to begin with; some rather interesting kits; and two dominant run performances by Olympic medalists Cassandre Beaugrande and Hayden Wilde.
RELATED: What is Super League Triathlon? Your Guide to the 2022 Championship
Beaugrande Unstoppable in 2022
France’s Cassandre Beaugrande has turned the disappointment of a DNF at the Tokyo Olympics into the best season of her career. (She did also bounce back in Tokyo to earn a bronze medal in the relay.) Beaugrande won her sixth race of the season, and her second Super League event in London, also taking the title at the Super League Arena Games race this spring. She even topped the podium at WTCS Leeds, making it three wins this season in England.
The “triple mix” format started with a quick swim-bike-run race, followed by bike-run-swim—with the times used for a pursuit start bike-swim-run finale. It makes sense if you watch it (which isn’t always easy, time-wise in the U.S.).
The most impressive part of Beaugrande’s win was that she didn’t take the lead until the final run of the final race. American Taylor Spivey started the final race with a small advantage but was caught on the bike by a small group, and then it was all Beaugrande on the run. As we’ve seen in her World Triathlon wins, when she can catch the swim leaders on the bike, she’s almost unbeatable over any distance 10K and under.
Spivey hung on for second to notch a solid start to her campaign, with Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown in third. Super League is pushing the team concept hard this year, and they would probably like for me to report that Beaugrande races for the Scorpions, Spivey for the Rhinos and GTB also for the Scorpions (which seems a bit unfair). There are also Cheetahs and Sharks, and the Cheetahs kits are even better than your children could imagine.
Wilde Wins Three-Man Battle
Just like the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this July, all eyes in London were on a showdown between Kiwi Hayden Wilde and Britain’s newest Olympic hero Alex Yee. While Yee got the better of Wilde in Birmingham—as well as at the Tokyo Olympics, where he finished one spot higher on the podium—this was Wilde’s time to shine.
Like Beaugrande, Wilde was dominant on the final run of the day, even re-catching Aussie Matt Hauser, who briefly took the lead after being awarded the “short chute.” Basically, if you swim really well on the opening leg, you or your teammates get a huge advantage on the final run. It’s a fun concept that adds an element of late-race jeopardy to a race that would otherwise be over. I think the distance of this chute was about right, as it didn’t completely disrupt the end result as it has in the past. Wilde was the best runner of the day and ended up on top, both for himself and the worldwide legion of SLT Sharks fans—myself included. They have the sickest kits, best mascot, and so far they’re not sponsored by a Gulf monarch. Let’s go.
Hauser held off Yee for second, giving the Eagles and their possibly-dozens of fans a much-needed boost. Yee races for the Rhinos (weird, I know), who sit behind the Scorpions and Sharks in the team standings after the first of five races. The Scorpions have double the number of points (100) than the Cheetahs (50). I have no idea what that means, but it can’t be good. The Cheetahs really need to get their act and their kits together.
Round two of 2022 SLT Championship Series takes place in Munich this coming weekend. Choose your team before then. It’s very important.
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