Alex Yee finally broke his hometown curse to win the first race of the 2023 Super League Triathlon Championship Series for his all-British team while Jeanne Lehair secured a breakthrough victory in London.
In front of huge crowds, Santara Tech Eagles star Lehair produced one of Super League Triathlon’s greatest ever run legs, striding into pole position near the end of the day’s final run leg to leave the UK’s Sophie Coldwell and America’s Taylor Spivey trailing in her wake.
The 27-year-old, who recently switched allegiances from France to Luxembourg, looked to have been cut adrift numerous times on the nine-stage Enduro format, but her dogged determination and running prowess scored her first Super League Triathlon Championship Series victory and a debut win for her Eagles team – a rare highlight on a day they finished bottom of the rankings – coached by Londoner Tim Don, in 2023’s Championship Series.
“I had a really bad day on the bike, but I was running really well, maybe because of coming down from altitude [training],” said an ecstatic Lehair at the finish. “I can’t believe it right now as I never thought that I would win this race, but wow! I’m really happy for my Eagles team as well and hopefully I’ve taken some points for them.”
Jeanne Lehair would finish ahead of Coldwell and RTS Warriors’ Spivey, with leading British star Beth Potter coming home in fourth and another Brit, Kate Waugh, rounding out the top five for a cracking day for the home country RTP Sharks.
The frenetic racing spectacle saw the Enduro format utilised. This involved a non-stop burst of nine back-to-back triathlon disciplines without any breaks (or a 300m swim/4km bike/1.6km run repeated continuously three times in a row).
In the men’s event, RTP Sharks star man Alex Yee began the 2023 Super League Triathlon Championship Series in style. The 25-year-old, who had failed to win either of the first two editions of a race just a few miles from where he grew up, strode to victory on the final running leg of the day to break the resolve of teammate Jonny Brownlee and New Zealand’s Tayler Reid of Bahrain Victorious Scorpions.
Fresh from winning the Olympic Games test event in Paris just over a week earlier, Yee once again delivered a running showcase that was too hot for the stacked field to handle.
“I’m really happy with that result,” said Yee at the finish. “You can’t beat racing in London in front of a home crowd and I really felt that advantage. I’m really thankful for everyone showing up to support as I felt their presence during the race. I wanted to show my appreciation on the finishing straight as this was one of the best crowds I’ve raced in front of,” Yee continued. “I wanted to use my momentum from the Paris (Olympic) Test event and it’s set up an exciting Championship Series to come.”
Yee delivered the decisive move of the day at the start of the final 1.6km run leg, instantly dropping Reid and then Brownlee to create clear daylight by the time the finishing chute arrived. The 25-year-old evidently relished the finishing straight in his home city to cap a memorable month for the Brit. The 33-year-old Brownlee would come home second 3.7secs back, with Kiwi Tayler Reid completing the podium. Spain’s Roberto Sanchez and Max Stapley of the UK rounded out the top five.
Yee’s win and Brownlee’s silver made it a memorable day for Michelle Dillon’s Sharks team. They have broken away at the top of the Team Leaderboard with the all-American underdogs, the RTS Warriors, surprisingly sitting in second. The Bahrain Victorious Scorpions are third with the Santara Tech Eagles in last.
The battle for both individual and team honours continues on Sunday, September 3, in Toulouse, France, before the series heads to Malibu, USA, on September, 30 and NEOM, Saudi Arabia, for the Grand Final on October 21.