Hamburg WTS: 5 things we learnt
1. When wet ‘n wild, anything can happen: Sodden roads on a twisting city centre course were always going to lead to an incident-packed bike leg and so it proved. Normally the prudent tactic to stay out of trouble and mitigate risks would be to gain a position towards the head of the race. Unfortunately, when the leader goes down – as was the case with Denmark’s Andreas Schilling – even that approach comes unstuck. Schilling’s spill caused a pile-up behind that ended the challenge of a clutch of the main contenders including Britain’s Jonny Brownlee and Tom Bishop, South Africa’s Henri Schoeman and Richard Murray and the series leader Fernando Alarza. It was worse still for Hungary’s Bence Bicsak, whose season looks to be over after breaking a bone in his leg.
2. Stanford peaking at just the right time: It’s hard not to get carried away at the sight of Non Stanford running clear of Cassandre Beaugrand to clock a 5km split of 16:04 for her first WTS win in over three years and arguably her best result in almost six. The Welshwoman has been gradually improving all season and finally free of the injuries that have plagued her in recent years, she looks on the perfect trajectory to be even better come the Tokyo test event – her most important race of the season. The GB selection criteria means only Vicky Holland, as an existing Olympic medallist, can officially qualify at the mid-August race. But if Stanford were to be best of the Brits and show she can cope with the heat, humidity and other demands of the Far East, then it would go a long way to securing one of the three available slots.
3. Joel Filliol’s squad consistently the best: It is little wonder the world’s best triathletes gravitate towards the self-named JFT Crew. The Canadian coach is an understated personality yet a world-beater when it comes to results and Hamburg was just the latest example. As well Stanford’s victory, Filliol’s charges filled the top four spots on the men’s leaderboard. His approach seems to nurture triathletes to success against a gruelling global schedule. It may be cruel to single out those that have moved away from the group, but since Richard Murray departed, the South African has battled injury and barely featured at the pointy end of races.