McClusky holds off home favourite Wilde to claim his first-ever World Cup win in Napier

by Olalla Cernuda on 24 Feb, 2024 06:50 • Español
McClusky holds off home favourite Wilde to claim his first-ever World Cup win in Napier

A golden day for Callum McClusky (AUS) at the Napier World Triathlon Cup, earning his first-ever world cup podium holding off world’s number 2 Hayden Wilde, who despite struggling on the swim, emptied the tank to hunt the silver medal. Bronze on the day was for Spain’s Alberto Gonzalez Garcia, showcasing fine form on the season opener of the World Cup circuit.

The men’s race witnessed an intense start, with the swim stringing out early over the 750m course. Italian Alessio Crociani set a blistering pace, leading the field into T1. Home talent Dylan McCullough closely followed, creating a lead pack with a significant advantage over pre-race favorite Hayden Wilde.

The Olympic bronze medallist Wilde produced a subpar swim that saw him second to last out of the choppy waters, and with quite a lot to do if he wanted to start the season with a home victory. But “the Falcon” was on a mission the second he jumped on the bike, 47 seconds behind the leaders and in the third chase group, and showcased a relentless pursuit, gradually closing the gap over the 20 km bike course.

By the time the leading group, that included names like Callum McClusky (AUS), Casper Stornes (NOR), Alberto Gonzalez García (ESP), Ben Djikstra (GBR) or Shachar Sagiv (ISR), just to name a few, hit the second transition, Wilde’s group was just 26 seconds behind them and ready for what would be a run for the books.

The day, however, belonged to McClusky, who demonstrated strength and composure throughout the race, holding off Wilde’s charge to secure his first World Triathlon Cup victory. While Wilde was chasing rival after rival, McClusky managed to keep his cool to cross the finish line just six seconds ahead of Wilde, who despite the support of the local crowds was just a few meters short to be able to chase him.

McClusky’s victory, first time ever of his career, puts him on a great spot on the fight for the Paris2024 selection. “It’s amazing, it’s seven years since my first World Cup and it’s taken me seven years to get on the podium, it’s been a lot of hard work with my team and we’ve had to work really hard to get here, ” he said.

Less happy, Wilde was totally conscious of what he needs to work on before heading to the first WTCS of the season, Abu Dhabi in just two weeks. “That was a disaster (the swim). I worked really hard on the bike, we got some movement in the group, I was pulling pretty hard and I just wanted to keep the gap as small as possible and we got something going on. I was pretty sore for the run and I just went for it. I think I ran pretty fast, so I am really happy with that and the hard bike, it is a good preparation for Abu Dhabi. I might need to assess there (the swim)  but it was a choppy swim and I just didn’t have a good day out there, ” he explained. In fact, the kiwi produced the fastest run split of the day, 20 seconds faster than McClusky.

The podium was completed by Spaniard Alberto Gonzalez Garcia, adding to the resurgence of Spanish talent in the triathlon world. “It feels amazing. In every race I feel more consistent in the three disciplines, I was swimming in the front, kept the pace on the bike and on the run, it was a mix of changing speed and finally it was just hold until the end”, he said.

Fourth on the day was Sagiv, delivering a strong performance that consolidates his inclusion in the Olympic rankings, while another Kiwi, Dylan McCullough, rounded the top five on the day.


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Related Event: 2024 World Triathlon Cup Napier
24 Feb, 2024 • event pageall results
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