Emma Pallant crowned World Duathlon Champion with gutsy display in Ibiza
The heat was rising in Ibiza on Saturday morning as 32 women lined up for the first elite action of the 2023 World Triathlon Multisport Championships, eyeing the Duathlon world title in Santa Eulalia.
The 5km run, 20km bike, 2.5km run course was fast and flat, and there was no pause for breath as the athletes attacked from the outset, only for Emma Pallant and Zsanett Bragmayer to break clear of the pack and turn it into a two-person race for the title.
It was the British long-distance star who took gold just as she had way back in 2016, Hungary’s Bragmayer delighted with a hard-earned silver and Monday’s aquathlon still to come, Japan’s Ai Ueda with bronze.
“I didn’t realise it had been seven years since my last World Championships,” said Pallant. “So much has changed since and this being a sprint is totally different format so I was a bit nervous and doubting my slowtwitch a little bit and transitions so definitely felt the pressure! I’m used to killing the legs a bit but getting the speed was important and I had to back myself. I wanted to break on the bike but thought it would be the second lap and not into the headwind but that was it!’
Kaiser and Ueda look to stretch field early
With defending champion Joselyn Abreu not starting, the door was open for a heated battle to the top, and the pace was on from the outset as Japan’s Ai Ueda looked to set the early pace along with Germany’s Celine Kaiser and crowd favourite Maria Varo Zubiri.
Bragmayer couldn’t quite match their early speed, finding herself half a minute back as the first athletes hit transition with 16m49 on the clock and headed out onto the 3-lap, 20km bike segment.
It wasn’t long before Bragmayer was back among the leaders though, joining the likes of Giorgia Priarone (ITA) and Marion Le Goff (FRA) in a 13-deep pack even before the dead turn.
Bragmayer makes a move
After a brief assessment of her situation, Bragmayer made the move to pull clear, only Pallant able to respond, and soon the two had 30 seconds over the chasers left trying to reorganise themselves.
That never quite came together. By the end of lap two the gap was up to a minute, nearly two minutes by the time they hit transition for the final time, and there were suddenly only two possible names on top of the first elite podium in Ibiza.
Pallant pulls it back
Bragmayer was fluid into the running shoes, Pallant took her time, but that moment of composure helped fuel an imperious final 2.5km burst that quickly saw her catch and then pass the Hungarian, Bragmayer accepting her fate and delighted to come away with silver as Pallant soaked up her moment to win by 23 seconds.
Further back, Ueda was able to dig in and find the edge over the battling Giorgia Priarone to take the bronze, Varo in fifth ahead of Sandrina Illes (AUT). Italy scored a double gold in the U23 and Junior world championships, Asia Mercatelli and Noemi Bogiatto winning the golds respectively.
“It is amazing, I wanted to be on the podium once these championships, I didn’t expect it to be today!” said Bragmayer. “It all came together, my tactics worked and Emma really helped on the bike. I knew there would be a gap out of the first run and I had to control myself, and I knew I had the power to catch the group then make the attack. I didn’t look back to see who was coming with me, she just came up and we got into it.”
“I’m so happy to get the podium!” said Ueda. “My plan was to go out fast in the first run and get a small group on the bike, but Emma and Zsanett escaped on the bike and I couldn’t stay in touch. I was side by side with Giorgia at the end, and really pleased to podium.”
For the full results, click here.
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