Belgium’s Marten Van Riel is now world triathlon vice-champion after placing second in the final race of the World Triathlon Series on Saturday in Edmonton, Canada.
Kristian Blummenfelt of Norway won the final race and the world title, thus become the first triathlete to win both the Olympic and the world titles. Jelle Geens, who fractured his hand last week, did not compete.
Van Riel (28), who placed fourth in the event at the Tokyo Olympics, had been in third place after the 1,500-metre swim. He then went all out in the 40km cycle race, forming a trio with the previous world champion, Frenchman Vincent Luis, and Hungary’s Mark Devay at the head of the pack, with Blummenfelt (27) in hot pursuit, bent on limiting the gap.
The leaders had a 30-second lead over Blummenfelt in the first six laps, but the Norwegian narrowed that gap to 9 seconds in the seventh and final lap, before attacking the 10-km run, finally sprinting to victory ahead of France’s Léo Bergère, who took bronze.
“I’m super happy to finally be on the podium,” said Van Riel, who had had a string of fourth places this season. “I was super close to first, but I have no regrets. I put it all out there, went all out on the bike and couldn’t have done more.
“I thought there would have been more of a gap in transition, then I looked, and they were only ten seconds back. I left a little in the tank, though, so I still had a lot in the legs for the second five kilometres, which I finished in fine style.”
The second Belgium in Edmonton, Noah Servais, finished in 18th place.
In the final rankings of the World Series, comprising the season’s three triathlons – in Yokohoma, Leeds and Montreal – plus the final in Edmonton, Blummenfelt finished first with 3,927 points, followed by Van Riel (3,594) and Alex Yee of Britain (3,289).
Jelle Geens, who only took part in two of the four contests, finished in 18th place, with 1,288 points, while Noah Servais was 49th (332).
In the women’s event, first place in Edmonton went to Taylor Knibb of the United States, while Olympic Champion Flora Duffy of Bermuda won her third world title by placing third in the final.
Belgium’s Claire Michel finished 20th after competing in two of the four triathlons, and Valérie Barthélémy took 23rd place, having competed in three. Neither was there in Edmonton.
In the Juniors (Under 23) event, won by Emma Lombardi (France), Belgium’s Hanna De Vet placed 18th.