Canada’s Stefan Daniel continued his golden streak, while Jessica Tuomela and her guide Marianne Hogan celebrated their first career World Para-triathlon Series medal together on Friday morning in Montreal.
The 22-year-old Daniel captured his ninth career World Para-triathlon Series title after scrapping it out with his top-two rivals – Germany’s Martin Schulz and Great Britain’s George Peasgood – in the sprint distance format.
Calgary’s Daniel rocketed down the roadways alongside the iconic Parc Jean-Drapeau, finishing with a time of 57:29.7 against the strongest international field he has faced since celebrating his third World Championship title last September.
“It was a stacked field and the the first qualifying race for the Tokyo Games so I’m really happy with how the day went,”said Daniel after stepping off the golden step of the podium for the fourth straight time.
“You never really know where anyone is at in their fitness until you line up against them so I was really looking forward to this race because I knew it would be a good benchmark.”
The world’s best Para-triathletes in the men’s standing category dove into Alexandra Basin for an early-morning 750-metre swim to beat the Montreal heat.
Daniel climbed out of the water in second place and charged into the first transition nearly 45 seconds behind Peasgood who bolted through the water before hammering the pace on the 20-kilometre multi-loop bike course that featured Montreal’s world renowned Formula 1 race track.
“Peasgood absolutely nailed us on the bike. When Schulz passed me I tried to tag off him, and then hold the gap as best as I could,” added Daniel. “I know I need to work a lot on the riding. If I don’t, I won’t be winning for much longer because Peasgood is dominating.”
After parking the bikes in transition two, the soft-spoken Canuck put the running shoes on and focused on hunting down the golden step of the podium in the one-lap, five-kilometre run course that was strung out alongside Lachine Canal at the Port of Montreal’s Grand Quay.
“I had some ground to make up on the run so I tried to pace things as best as I could,” added Daniel. “The run is definitely my strength. I have to focus on improving the bike so I don’t have to rely so much on the run, but it is nice to know I have the legs in case the first part of my race doesn’t go well. I closed the gap today and surged with 600 metres to go to get the win.”
Schulz, who is the reigning Paralympic champion, clocked a second-place time of 58:03.5. Peasgood was forced to settle for the bronze medal at 58:08.8.
The Canadian trail to the podium continued in the women’s visually impaired category with Jessica Tuomela and her new guide, Marianne Hogan. The Canadians left it all on the course to capture their first World Para-triathlon Series podium together, finishing in the bronze-medal position.
It was the second World Para-triathlon Series podium ever for Tuomela. She had one victory last season in Edmonton.
“Right now I feel gross but that means I did it right,” laughed Tuomela. “We came in here and felt really calm and confident after the block of training we put in the last couple of months. I just wanted to get in the water and go after it.”
The 35-year-old development triathlete from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. did exactly.
After leading the pack out of the 750-metre swim, which the three-time Paralympic swimmer traditionally does on the elite Para-triathlon circuit, the Canadian duo kicked things into high gear on the lightening quick bike course.
“It was so cool to get on that Formula 1 race track and just fly. I don’t know what speeds we reached but we were definitely flying,” said Tuomela. “On the really technical bike courses, I don’t get to contribute on the decision making as much, but today on a flat and fast course, I could contribute physically more which was really cool and gave us the opportunity to work even harder together.”
First off the bike and onto the run, Montreal’s Hogan guided Tuomela down her hometown streets in an exciting international battle for the podium with Spain and Great Britain.
Spain’s Susana Rodriguez was first to catch the Canadians on the five-kilometre run course and never looked back, cruising to a gold medal time of 1:08:32. Great Britain’s Alison Peasgood caught the Canucks at the tail end of the run, and finished 80 metres ahead to secure the silver medal at 1:15:04.
“It was great to fight and stay in it today. I felt strong the whole way,” said Tuomela. “We were all pretty close together, which is great to see the sport grow. The competition is stiff and everyone is just bringing it so this result gets me excited to go back and have another great training block.”
Competing in just her second season at the elite international level, Kamylle Frenette, raced to a fourth-place result in the women’s standing category. The 22-year-old from Dieppe, N.B. finished just under one minute off the podium after clocking a time of 1:10:11.0.
Claire Cashmore, of Great Britain, won the division with a time of 1:06:12.9.
Ottawa’s Jon Dunkerley, and his guide James Cook of Summerland, B.C., placed eighth in the men’s visually impaired race with a time of 1:05:27.1.
The World Triathlon Series continues on Saturday in Montreal with the men’s and women’s elite races.
Complete World Paratriathlon Results: https://www.triathlon.org/results/result/2019_montreal_itu_world_paratriathlon_series