Ireland’s elite triathletes will set their sights on tomorrow’s (Sunday) Mixed Team Relay after a disappointing day for the team at the World Championships in Hamburg.
Carolyn Hayes was the best of the five athletes competing across two events today (Saturday), finishing in 48th place in the women’s event.
Maeve Gallagher finished 60th in the same race, which saw Erin McConnell forced to withdraw after the halfway point of the bike.
Earlier in the day, Ireland’s leading men Con Doherty and Russell White also came away with little to show for their efforts as they finished in 54th and 56th respectively in the men’s race.
Speaking from Hamburg, Triathlon Ireland’s High Performance Director Stephen Delaney said there was no disguising the group’s disappointment with the results.
“For our senior athletes, Carolyn, Russell and Con, particularly their expectations and our own were higher they aspire to higher but we know that it’s the first race back for them the way the return to competition has played out and they all know that there are better days ahead.”
Mr Delaney added, “for Maeve and Erin this was their first full triathlon with this quality of field and the experience will be invaluable for them. The team has the Mixed Relay tomorrow and we have to thank the ITU for the work done to give another opportunity to go racing in what has been a difficult year for everyone.”
The five athletes will move on quickly as the exciting prospect of a Mixed Team Relay World Championships looms tomorrow - an extremely exciting race that sees national teams of two men and two women race against each other over a short and fast course.
First Elite Race Back
Hamburg was the first elite international triathlon event since the onset of COVID-19 and with athletes unable to train as normal for almost six months, form was one of the uncertain factors heading in to event.
Ireland’s top ranked athlete, Carolyn Hayes made a promising start, coming out of the water in 28th place and among a large pack of chasers 33secs back from the leading women.
On the bike however, the pace was on and Hayes’s pack found the gap between them and the leaders increasing to the extent that she was 2mins 45secs in arrears and in 54th position by the time her large group had finished the 20km bike.
The Limerick athlete battled hard on the run and overhauled six spots during the 5km third leg to come home in 48th place.
Maeve Gallagher, who was due to race the Junior World Championships this year before its cancellation, exited the 750m swim in 60th and for a time appeared to have caught up with Hayes bike pack which would have put her in the security of working with other riders.
The Mayo teeanger, who is a notably strong cyclist and rode the Junior Cycling World Champs last year, lost contact however and was forced to complete the remainder of the race solo, making her day far harder. She came home in 60th place. Fellow first timer and teenager Erin McConnell was forced to retire from the race halfway through the bike.
Earlier in the day, Russell White and Con Doherty started their race ranked 39th and 56th as they took to the pontoon in a sixty-five strong field that included double Olympic champion Alastair Brownlee.
Unusually, in particular for Russel White, both athletes found themselves off the pace after the swim, coming out of the water in 63rd and 65th. Despite their best efforts on the bike, the pair then struggled to catch the fast-moving chase pack, with the leaders more than two minutes ahead at the end of the 18.9 kilometre course.
Making up some places on the run, Doherty ran the five kilometres in 15:44 for 54th place and White 16:20 for 56th place.