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ITU World Duathlon Championships, Fyn, Denmark

The first day of the ITU Multisport World Championship Festival took place in Fyn, Denmark on Friday 6 July 2018. The final race of the day at 17.50 hrs was the Elite Men World Duathlon Championship followed 40 minutes later by the Women’s race. The Men’s race featured Holmfirth Harriers Mark Buckingham and three other GB athletes. A field of 50 athletes lined up from 30 different countries and included the reigning World and European Champions and various National Champions for the event. Buckingham’s last Duathlon was the 2017 World Championships in Penticton, Canada where he qualified for this years race as a medalist. The GB champion was Adam Bowden who has had some great results this season over a variety of distances and he was going to be a strong contender in this race.

The opening 10km run was fast and furious and after the first three laps the pre race favourites were in contention, with last years gold and silver medalists, Emilio Martin of Spain and Nicolas Benoit of France falling back to the chasing group. Eight men formed the leading group, including GB,s Buckingham, Bowden and Morgan Davies, plus Benjamin Choquert (FRA), Andreas Schilling (DEN), Dely Arnaud (BEL), Yohan Le Berre (FRA) and Laszio Tarnai (HUN). The fourth member of the GB team, Phil Wylie lost a shoe when someone caught his heel and had to be content in the chasing group.

itu world duathlon championships fyn

Choquert was first to arrive in T2 with a time of 27.52, closely followed by Buckingham (27.53) and the other six leaders. Transition was an underground car park in the city centre, which could only be viewed by spectators on a giant screen in the nearby Park where the run took place. The leading group had managed to open a 20 second lead on the 10km run and tried to capitalise in the early stages of the 40km bike ride. The six lap bike course took the athletes on the outskirts of the city through an industrial area, with a mixture of fast sections and a number of technical challenges on a predominately flat course. Within the first two laps, two of the acknowledged cycling specialists, Schilling and Le Berre along with Buckingham broke away and managed to open up a gap of 40 seconds and by the time the trio arrived at Transition the gap was a minute. Schilling had the fastest bike split of 53.18, Le Berre 53.20 and Buckingham 53.22.

As the men left T2 Le Berre had a 1 second advantage over Schilling, but Buckingham had lost 6 seconds suffering from cramp as he dismounted. Bowden and Davies were among the leaders in the chasing group as the pace lifted on the final 2 lap 5km run course. Le Berre and Schilling dropped Buckingham as he struggled with cramp on the opening lap, which then became an intense battle for the gold medal and it soon became clear that Bowden had reduced the deficit on Buckingham and would challenge for the bronze medal. On the final lap Le Berre, who had finished 5th, 9th and 4th in the last three World Championships put in a big effort to try and break away from Schilling, a Rio 2016 Olympian. Schilling didn’t panic and lifted by the home town support managed to out-sprint Le Berre in the last few strides to win the race by 1 second to complete the run course with the fastest time of 13.19 and a total time of 1:35:56. Buckingham dug deep in the closing stages to clinch the bronze medal with a run time of 14.04 and a finish time of 1:36:47, just 4 seconds ahead of Bowden.

It later became clear that both Bowden and Davies had been disqualified due to technical infringements in T2, but neither man had seen their numbers on the penalty board and failed to serve the penalties. They had finished in 4th (1:36:51) and 7th (1:39:00) respectively, but their disqualification lifted Phil Wylie to 8th (1:40:06) after his unfortunate setback in the early stages of the race. This was the third time Buckingham has won a bronze medal in the World Championships following his efforts in Adelaide, Australia (2015) and Penticton, Canada (2017).

Day One of the Championships were a great success for Great Britain, with Matthew Willis winning gold in the Junior Men Sprint Duathlon, Mark Buckingham winning bronze in the Elite Men Standard Duathlon, Georgina Schwiening winning bronze in the Elite Women race and the Age-group athletes winning 27 medals over the Standard Distance earlier in the day.

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