Italy’s Bianca Seregni continues her World Cup winning streak with gold in the 2023 World Triathlon Cup Miyazaki, to close a standout season with a strong race and striking run that saw USA’s Gwen Jorgensen secure silver, and Luxembourg’s Jeanne Lehair thrilled with World Cup bronze to finish the year on Saturday, 28 October 2023 in Japan.
“This is my last race of the season. I’m so happy and I am so satisfied about my results, about this year. The ending of this year is amazing, to end like this, I am just so happy!”2023 World Triathlon Cup Miyazaki Gold Medalist, Italy’s Bianca Seregni
South Africa’s Shanae Williams finished World Triathlon’s final staging with a encouraging top-20 finish having raced with the race leaders for most of the swim and cycling legs, before an extended second transition point cost her valuable seconds.
Williams’ 18th place in Miyazaki is her second best finish in the 2023 World Triathlon Cup season after a super 11tho-place finish two weeks ago in Tongyeong, and a busy year has seen her compete in South African, African continental and international events in testament to a racing career that has brought her 15 podiums in 66 starts.
A field of 45 women lined up along Hitotsuba beach for the 2023 World Triathlon Cup Miyazaki, featuring a mix of World Triathlon experience and emerging talent.
It was no surprise that Italy’s Bianca Seregni was in a stroke of her own, as she glided through the water to lead the field with Japan’s Yuko Takahashi right on her heels.
By lap 2 of the 1.5k swim, Seregni maintained her lead with Takahashi, Hungary’s Márta Kropkó, Italy’s Alie Betto, Canada’s Sophia Howell, Austria’s Sara Vilic all in tow. Olympic champion Gwen Jorgensen was in 13th place, 20 seconds behind the leader and race favourite Jeanne Lehair in 15th.
Seregni had a perfect transition out of the swim and onto the 8 lap 40km bike course.
A group of 7 women got organised to lead the early stage of the bike course, including Seregni, Betto, Spain’s Cecilia Santamaria Surroca, Takahashi and China’s Xinyu.
The chase group of athletes was being driven by Australia’s Kira Hedgeland then New Zealand’s Ainsely Thorpe, Jorgenson, Great Britain’s Elliot, South Africa’s Shanae Williams, Australia’s Sophie Linn Lin, riding 16-seconds back from the lead group of athletes.
The larger chase group was making up time on the leaders and first chase group featuring the power of Belgium star Claire Michel, who earned silver in the recent World Triathlon Cup Chengdu and fourth in last week’s World Triathlon Cup Tongyeong.
By lap 3, Italy’s Ilaria Zane and Michel were in 19th and 20th place and working together to try and get themselves off the back of the chase group that featured Jorgensen, 50 seconds off the leaders.
Australia’s Jaz Hedgeland and last weekend’s bronze medallist in Tongyeong Tereza Zimovjanova (CZE) 20 seconds down again.
At the midpoint of the bike segment, the lead and chase groups formed into one busy lead group of 18 athletes riding together. Lehair and Takahashi were doing a lot of work upfront. Jorgensen, now up front, doing her fair share to push the tempo and pace in the lead group.
Michel, Japan’s Miyu Sakai and Mexico’s Cecilia Perez 1 minute adrift of the leaders.
By the closing stages of the bike portion of the race, Lehair, Elliot, Germany’s Annabel Knoll, Jorgensen and Takahashi continued to push the pace.
Hedgeland brought the chase group through for the final lap on the bike and the pack had done incredible work to bring the gap down by 15 seconds.
Seregni charged out of the final transition of the day with clean air in sight to commence the 4 lap 10km run.
Jorgensen, who was right up there and leading the bike, now found herself 11-seconds adrift, as she came out of transition in 15th place.
Lehair was running on the shoulder of Bianca Seregni and with 5km to go the Luxembourg athlete became the new leader with Seregni, with Alice Betto just slightly falling off the pace for a matter of moments. Jorgensen was 19 seconds back but clearly on the hunt and wanting to be in medal contention.
The next 5km were crucial as Seregni took back the driving seat with Lehair and Betto chasing. Jorgensen was storming across the tarmac and was making up significant ground on the leading trio.
In the final stages of the run, Jorgensen overtook Betto and then it was a game of cat and mouse with Lehair and Jorgensen.
Seregni had a clear runway as she hit the final stretch of the run course to fly down the finish line and take the tape to earn yet another World Triathlon Cup victory in 2023.
“This is my last race of the season. I’m so happy and I am so satisfied about my results, about this year. The ending of this year is amazing, to end like this, I am just so happy,” said gold medallist Seregni.
Jorgensen powered over the line to be awarded the silver medal after a strong race set up and stellar run portion of today’s race.
“Bianca had an amazing race today. I don’t know if I could have run with her but I felt like I handed the win away with my T2. Jeanne was coming for her and I thought you got to just keep fighting, it’s now or never. So I put in a surge and just tried not to look back,” said silver medallist Jorgensen.
An outstanding race combination saw Lehair earn her first World Cup medal with a bronze in Miyazaki.
“It’s the way I wanted to finish, on a high. This season has been pretty incredible. So for sure, I really want a holiday now, I really need but then I’m already looking forward to being back with the group and preparing for the next season, and with Paris the focus,” said bronze medallist Lehair.
Photo Caption: Italy’s Bianca Seregni continues her World Cup winning streak with gold at the 2023 World Triathlon Cup in Miyazaki as Shanae Williams finishes the season with a solid top-20 finish in ideal conditions alongside Hitotsuba beach in Japan. Photo: World Triathlon
Original Copy: Courtney Akrigg