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Kate Waugh and Léo Bergere crowned 2023 Super League Triathlon Championship Series winners

Super League Triathlon
Kate Waugh e Léo Bergere (Foto credit: Super League Triathlon/superleaguetriathlon.com)

NEOM, Saudi Arabia: Great Britain’s Kate Waugh and Léo Bergere of France won the 2023 Super League Triathlon Championship Series titles in NEOM, Saudi Arabia.

The women’s race saw Waugh, 24, finishing ahead of Luxembourg’s Jeanne Lehair and France’s Emma Lombardi on the day and in the Series after a dramatic multi-stage triathlon in the desert.

While Waugh may have been the overall Series champ, France’s Cassandre Beaugrand was the day’s leading female athlete, crossing the line ahead of Waugh and Lehair to secure points for her Bahrain Victorious Scorpions team.

The four-date Series victory (following races in London, Toulouse, Malibu and now NEOM) sees Waugh add the 2023 Super League Championship Series to her Under-23 and Mixed Relay world titles from 2022. She finished level on points with Lehair but with the final result counting in the event of a tie took the title.

“Going into today’s last round, my legs felt so heavy coming out of the swim, so I kept having to tell myself how badly I wanted to win this,” said an elated Waugh at the finish after securing a considerable chunk of the $1.24m prize pot. “My form was gone in the last 400m of the final run, but I’m absolutely over the moon [with the series win].”

The men’s race would follow soon after, witnessing Bergere break free from defending champion New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde on the final run leg to take both the Series and race win. The duo, both vying for the overall title of the four-date 2023 Series, were inseparable on the first eight disciplines of the day before Bergere, 27, applied a Short Chute in the final transition and surged to victory on the final 1.6km of the day and series.

“Until 400 metres from the line I was scared to look behind my shoulder,” said Bergere, the 2022 ITU World Champion, at the finish. “I knew Hayden would be right behind me, but I could hear my coach Tim Don saying you’ve got this. And I have to thank Tim, my team and Matt Hauser today for giving me the Short Chutes, without the help of everyone I wouldn’t have had the victory.”

Wilde would finish 9secs back while Brit Alex Yee would come home in third to also secure bronze in the overall series. Aussie Matt Hauser and reigning Olympic champ, Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, would complete the top five.

TEAM STANDINGS & DISCIPLINES

It wasn’t just individual honours being handed out in NEOM, with the team battle also heating up in the desert with the athletes vying for glory and a big share of the $300,00 up for grabs. The leaderboard at the finale would see Bergere’s Santara Tech Eagles, led by coach Tim Don, take the title with 425 points, with the Bahrain Victorious Scorpions helped into second place and 407 points by Beaugrand’s victory.

Waugh’s all-British RTP Sharks, who came into the day leading and were heavy favourites after their record breaking opener in London, would come third on 390 points, while the North American-dominated RTS Warriors would complete the standings on a distant 220 points.

There was also $15,000 a piece up for grabs for the fastest swimmers, bikers and runners over the Series. Sophie Coldwell and Chase McQueen took the swim, Jess Fullagar and Emil Holm the bike and Reese Vannerson and Jeanne Lehair the run.

RACE FORMAT

Today’s format was the famous Super League three-stage Enduro, the unrivalled mix of speed and stamina last used in London in Round 1, where Lehair and Yee were the winners.

The three back-to-back stages tasked athletes with a 300m swim in the warm and buoyant Red Sea followed by a single lap 4km bike leg on a mix of gravel and asphalt surfaces and a final 1.6km run. All would take place in the 30°C desert heat and windswept conditions of NEOM.