Para Cup Paris action takes over French capital on day three of Test Events
The third day of Paris Test events for next year’s Paralympic and Olympic Games took to the French capital on Saturday morning, where Tokyo 2020 champions including home favourite Alexis Hanquinquant, Jetze Plat and USA’s Grace Norman were among the winners.
With the format switched due to discrepancies with the water testing in the Seine, the athletes lined up on a revised run-bike-run duathlon format. A 1.2km link to one lap of the 1.3km run course got things underway, transitioning on Ponte Alexandre III for the five-lap 18.5km bike and then back onto the run for three laps, taking in Champs Elysees and Saint German Boulevard.
There was late drama in the PTS5 race after Stefan Daniel had set the early pace before Chris Hammer (USA) looked to stretch things out up front. Brazil’s Ronan Cordeiro was then briefly to the front before Martin Schulz took control, but there was disaster for the German after he miscounted the laps and flew through T2 as his rivals racked their bikes.
That left Hammer to again take control on the final run and pull away from Daniel and Cordeiro, the Brazilian running his way into silver, the Canadian with bronze. Somewhat more predictable was the sight of Grace Norman taking the women’s gold, the margin of victory over Claire Cashmore (GBR) close to two minutes after two of her strongest run segments. Canada’s Kamylle Frenette produced the second-fastest run of the day to win bronze.
She may be new to the sport, but Germany’s Anja Renner B3 put in the kind of performance that underlines her huge potential in the visually impaired class. With the field split between the B1 and B3 athletes, there was work to do to close the gap, Ukraine’s Vita Oleksiuk B1 was first into T1 but Annouck Curzillat B1 (FRA) had a great transition to hit the bike segment out front, Zhoomart and Renner giving chase and it was an outstanding bike that made the difference followed by the fastest split by almost a minute. Only Francesca Tarantello B3 could hold a torch to her on the final run, the Italian finishing with bronze 27 seconds behind home favourite Annouck Curzillat B1 - almost exactly the same as the amount of time she had to serve for the three penalties accumulated.
Further drama came at the start of the men’s PTVI, as the guide of Hector Catala Laparra B2 lost his shoe in the duathlon start and found themselves immediately off the pace. USA’s Kyle Coon B1 was out with Satoru Yoneoka B1 first, but was slowly reeled in by Britain’s Dave Ellis B3 on the bike segment. Disaster for Koon and his guide came as they miscounted the run laps and came down the blue carpet too early, Ellis then coming home for the gold ahead of Australia’s Sam Harding B3, Owen Cravens B3 with the bronze. “It’s a pretty special course out there, ripping around the Champs-Élysées gives you an extra boost,” said winning guide Luke Pollard. “It’s really good to see Para Triathlon get this same sort of venue.”
Netherlands’ Maurits Morsink looked to make sure of his Paris Cup gold over the first run segment, as he seized control with an early pace that his rivals simply couldn’t match. Geoffrey Wersy of France had the better of Mohamed Lahna (USA) only for the American to make up ground over the five-lap bike, so that with Morsink out of sight with the gold it was a grandstand finish, Wersy edging Lahna right at the line to take silver.
Australian Anu Francis continued her ascent in the women’s PTS2 class after making the switch from rowing, but there was little to call between the leaders heading in to T1. USA’s Hailey Danz then hung tough on the bike as the two pulled clear of Veronica Yoko Plebiani (ITA), but it was Francis with the big finish and a 23m28s 5km to the gold, Danz in silver and Italy’s Plebiani the bronze.
In a tight men’s PTS3 race it was Daniel Molina of Spain using all his experience to set an early pace along with Hwang Tae Kim, only for the Korean to ride an extra bike lap and end his challenge, Cedric Denuziere to dig in and ride his way back into contention by the end of the 18.5km bike. The Spaniard remained patient as he reeled in the Frenchman, putting together a 20m37s 5km run to the gold, the French with silver, Nico Van Der Burgt the bronze. In the women’s race it was Elise Marc taking the tape ahead of Sanne Koopman of Netherlands. Further good news for the PTS3 athlete who will be looking to qualify in the PTS4 race at Paris 2024 - her time here would have seen her second in the class.
Kelly Elmlinger was in uncompromising mood as she set out on a mission to get to grips with the Paralympic course, the American crushing the bike segment and leaving Marta Frances Gomez in chase. Australia’s Sally Pilbeam also began well but her challenge faded on the bike, and as Elmlinger put together an outstanding 20m35s final 5km to take the tape by 3.5 minutes, Frances was able to edge a tight finish after running down Germany’s Eike Van Engelen.
In the men’s race, Pierre-Antoine Baele continued to push closer to his somewhat untouchable teammate Alexis Hanquinquant, and there was little to call between the field after the opening run. The same was true of the bike between the two Frenchmen as they pulled clear of the rest of the field, Baele swift in transition but unable to hold on to his compatriot over the closing stages as he crossed the line for the gold he will be so eager to recreate in front of the crowds in a year’s time. Baele finished 7 seconds back, Hideki Uda (JPN) finishing over two minutes back for the bronze.
Jetze Plat H2, Geert Schipper H2 and Florian Brungraber H2 (AUT) rode together over the opening segment to close in on leaders Ahmed Andaloussi H1 and Fathi Zwoukhi H1. Into T1 together, Plat had the faster transition to exit with a small lead that he would only extend over the bike, putting over 90 seconds into his Dutch teammate and Brungraber. After passing race leader Giovanni Achenza H1, Plat was able to relax a little over the closing stages, even as Schipper closed the gap and ensured himself silver ahead of the Austrian.
Australia’s Lauren Parker H1 made sure she kept the pace steady over the opening stages before exploding on the bike to put 30 seconds into rival Kendall Gretsch H2 over the handbike. Gretsch made up ground in the second transition but even her trademark rapid finish wasn’t sufficient to catch the Australian, Brazil’s Jessica Ferreira H1 finishing with the bronze. “It’s important to adapt to these situations,” said Parker. “A duathlon doesn’t work to my strengths because I am a swimmer, but I really had to change the mindset and focus on the positives and just really work hard for it. Such a challenging course, lots to think about but I am super happy to take the win today.”
The full results can be found here.
12:19 - 16 Aug, 2023
02:50 - 15 Aug, 2023