Csongor Lehmann crowned king in Karlovy Vary after brilliant debut World Cup gold
After finishing ninth in 2020 and scoring the bronze a year ago, Sunday afternoon in the Czech hills saw Hungary’s Csongor Lehmann finally find his golden moment at the 2022 World Triathlon Cup Karlovy Vary, coming at the climax of a gripping three-way tussle for the title.
The former Junior and U23 World Champion was shoulder-to-shoulder with Matthew McElroy (USA) and Lasse Luhrs (GER) at the halfway point of the final lap, but made a bold move on the final hill to pull clear and was able to hang on all the way to the line, McElroy with silver and a second successive World Cup podium, Luhrs home in third.
“This is my third race here and now at the top of the podium it really is an incredible feeling,” said a thrilled Lehmann. “I really love this place, this course is unique for me but I didn’t think that I would be able to top the podium because there were so many incredibly quick athletes around me. Leaving transition in first position was a key moment as I really wanted to push hard from the beginning on the run. I knew Matt would be quick as hell but I just had one more gear on the uphill and did not look back.”
With Richard Varga (SVK), Diego Moya (CHI) and Mark Devay (HUN) on the start, things were always likely to string out early in the swim, bad luck for Moya at the first buoy slowing his charge as things got difficult for everyone on the technical swim.
It was Varga from Devay, Nicolo Strada (ITA), Moya and Lehmann emerging at the halfway point and launching back into Rolava Lake, but the progress up front was again slowed at the buoy as the three leaders came together in almost a dead stop, the grateful field behind hauling back onto their feet.
As they came towards T1 there was just 15 seconds separating the top 15 athletes, McElroy +21 seconds, number one Messias +75 seconds, but it was Devay hitting the gas on the point-to-point bike section towards town, riding solo until he was joined by Varga and soon the likes of Lehmann, Luhrs and Samuel Dickinson (GBR) were part of a ten-deep group up front.
Vetle Bergsvik Thorn (NOR) was driving on the chasers that now included McElroy, Leon Pauger(AUT) and Alberto Gonzalez Garcia (ESP) and by the end of lap two the packs had merged, putting nearly a minute into the likes of Brock Hoel (CAN) and Messias in the chasers.
Devay and Pauger rolled the dice on lap 3 and had managed to get a decent gap but the move didn’t last long and while the pace had looked like dipping up ahead with the second transition approaching, the lead was still 43 seconds to the chasers as they dismounted.
A slick transition saw Lehmann out first onto the run, Luhrs and Seth Rider set on his shoulder, Gonzalez also pressing well, McElroy wasting no time to join them. Lehmann was soon setting the pace though, Gonzalez and Rider falling back as Grant Sheldon moved his way through the field into fifth, Devay and Dickinson for company.
It was over the second lap that McElroy took the front, Lehmann and Luhrs the only two hanging tough with him, Sheldon doing his best to stay in touch as Devay and Dickinson fell back, Messias motoring through the field and into the top ten.
It was a relentless tempo from the front three, McElroy still in pole at the bell, but it was on the final climb that Lehmann made his move and his timing could not have been better. McElroy tried to respond but his third World Cup in successive weekends and a second sprint finish saw the elastic snap and the Hungarian was away.
That left Lehmann to soak up his moment down the finish, taking the tape ten seconds ahead of McElroy, Luhrs holding firm in third as Roberto Sanchez Mantecon ran his way into a brilliant fourth ahead of Sheldon. Messias had run his way into sixth from Dickinson and Jonas Schomburg (GER) before Devay and Gabor Faldum rounded out a good top ten for Hungary.
“It was definitely the hill (not the three races in a row) - the breathing was good but the legs were hurting really bad,” said McElroy. “I knew our legs were shot, it was just a matter of time, who was going to make the move on the last lap. I think my cycling is really good right now, a testament to my coach, the work we’ve been doing has paid off today. I am pretty happy with that result.”
“To be honest, this race felt like a win after the swim,” admitted Luhrs. “I was so disappointed with it in Munich a couple of weeks ago so coming out in the top ten felt really great. On the bike and the run I just tried to keep up with the other two and suffered a lot. I am really happy with the third place to be honest!”
For the full results click here.
Related Event: 2022 World Triathlon Cup Karlovy Vary
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