Super Series Spectacular at Sandman
PUBLISHED: 18TH SEPTEMBER 2019
Saturday (14th September) saw the climax of the 2019 Welsh Triathlon Super Series at Newborough Beach on Anglesey as both Liam Lloyd and Hannah Munday ensured there were new names on the male and female titles, as well as the team competition.
With points and a quarter on offer for the final stage of this years Super Series, all was still to play for as we headed North to the picturesque Newborough Beach on the Isle of Anglesey for the AAH Sandman Triathlon, the Super Series finale for the second consecutive year. Conditions were far kinder for our athletes this year, as the wind and rain remained at bay to provide all competitors with ample racing conditions.
A change to the swim course this year saw a more straightforward out and back course, and as the wind had played havoc with the dunes for the last 12months, the swim exit to T1 was a little more technical than last.
As the swimmers swam out against a light wind which created a slight chop, the wind and tide assisted from the half way point back to shore and it was Josh Lewis who exited the sea first, six seconds ahead of Beau Smith as the chasing pack of Alex Matchett, Jack Southam, Kieran John, Liam Lloyd and Sawm Wade followed a further twenty seconds behind.
Within the women’s race, strong swims from both Megan McDonald and Hannah Munday saw them enter transition a second apart, having completed the swim just shy of 6minutes 40seconds. GOGs Rhian Roxburgh followed in third thirty seconds further down the field, closely followed by Florence Swan, who co-incidentally led the series prior to the start of this stage.
As all athletes made their way through transition and onto the climb out of Newborough, the race amongst the male competition intensified, with Lewis managing to withstand attacks throughout, but with series leader Lloyd positioning himself in his shadow in second place. The sharp 25km course saw plenty of movement within the chasing group, but as they returned to T2 it was defending champion Matchett who entered third, slowly losing his grip on the title which he dominated in 2018, followed by stage five winner Wade and Smith having dropped back from second to fifth.
As the male competition made its way to the woodland trails of the forest, the ladies were swiftly making their decent back to T2, a 40.50 bike split from Munday saw her return just ahead of Bala winner McDonald, knowing if she could stay ahead of series leader Swan that the 2019 title would be hers. As both entered transition, a sharper transition saw McDonald regain the stage lead, exiting a second ahead of Munday, who by now had almost a two minute lead on Swan who had dropped to fourth, with last year’s Sandman winner Roxburgh returning T2 and exiting for the run in a time of 49.36.
With Lewis heading to Super League Jersey in a few weeks, his form on the swim and bike would have been a confidence boost, but the dunes and sand of Newborough played havoc on the run, and gave the opportunity to Cycle Specific’s Liam Lloyd to take the overall victory, overtaking Lewis after 2k of the run to return victorious in a time of 1:01:20. This was the fourth victory from five for Lloyd in the 2019 series, stamping his authority over the chasing pack. With a stronger male field in 2019, it was Lloyds Strength on the run which saw him stretch away from his counterparts, having been in a pack for the majority of races before striding clear when needed to secure stage victories. The run of the day on this stage however belonged to Sam Wade, who thanks to a run split of 17:49 overtook Lewis to secure second place on the stage and cement second place in the overall series standings. Lewis came home in third, having lost a 1:08 to Lloyd and 1:38 to Wade meaning he finished 2019 in fifth place. Defending champion Matchett, who since being victorious last year has now also qualified as a doctor, came fourth on the day in a time of 1:02:49, securing a second year on the podium, this time in third.
With the women’s’ series possibly on its way to a three way tie at the top on points, it was stage 3 winner Megan McDonald who held off the challenge of Munday to return victorious on the day, in a time of 1:11:34. Having only competed two stages in the series, it would have been an interesting battle had McDonald featured more. Knowing that all was needed was to finish in the top 4 and ahead of Swan, it was early series front runner Hannah Munday who finished second in a time of 1:12:40 to secure the 2019 Women’s Super-Series title. Defending sandman champion Roxburgh returned in third place in a time of 1:12:59 and took third place on the podium overall. Swan, who led the series prior to the stage having been victorious at the Snowman and Gower finished fourth in a time of 1:13:27, to pip Roxburgh into second by five points.
Across the age categories, one of the standout series performance lies with GOG Tri’s Gareth Bowyer, having won four stages of this year’s series, and would have secured a fifth at Sandman had he not been DQ by a Moto-Official. Bowyers points tally of 400 was enough to secure the series title from Pembrokeshire’s Steve Matchett, who having won at the Sandman saw his points tally raised to 380 in second. Cardiff’s Rodney Savage remained in third place with 245 having not competed at the Sandman, but two strong GOG performances from Geran Hughes and Paul Algieri contributed to their overall team points haul.
Other GOG performances came in the 70’s Super Vintage Veteran Age Category, where husband and wife John and Ann D’Albuquerque won both categories on the day to take the series standings, as well as a 250points haul for the GOG Squad. Bridget Ripley secured victory on the day in the women’s’ Super Veteran category in a time of 1:31:44 and with it also secured the Series title for the Female 60 Category.
The Male Super Veteran Category was the only one which didn’t produce an outright winner. With series rules stating that to be eligible a minimum of three races needed to be completed, nobody took home the prize fund within the category, but a strong performance from Glossop Tri club’s Alan Turner saw him top the points table, with stage winner W.R. Blackwell finishing third after his solitary showing.
Another stand out series performance came in the women’s Super-Veteran Category, as it was ‘same again’ for Monmouth’s Rebecca Comins, as she continued to dominate with a win in an impressive time of 1:22:33. This gave Rebecca a total points tally of 425 points, matched only by Liam Lloyd in the series, and Rebecca was the only person to win her category in every race she competed in, seeing her also make the top 10 in the overall female category. With category counterparts taking part on the day, it was Celtic Tri’s Jen Aylward who came home second in the series with 365 points and GOGs Debs Jones third with 315points.
With Roxburgh featuring on the overall podium, the remaining veteran ladies’ spaces went to Gwen Kinsey of Team Pedalcover who came second in category and fifth overall and Bala’s Eleanor Davies, pipping IntrTri’s Helen Marshall to third. Both had given consistent performances across the series to secure their positions. The male veteran category was another which went down to the wire, with a second spot finish for Taff Ely’s Mark Binding on the day giving him top spot ahead of Pembrokeshire’s James Moore. The battle for third in category was tight with WCT David Coates pipping GOG counterpart Simon Roxburgh by 8 series points to claim his place on the podium.
With the male senior podium matching the overall, there was one change in the female seniors, with NTPCW’s Rhiannon Middleton taking the third step, having finished seventh on the stage but consistently in the top 5 throughout the season.
With the stage being a sprint race, it was also an opportunity for the youth and juniors to complete their final stage of the series. Cerist Triathlon’s Mali Jones was victorious in the female category, finishing ahead of Celtic Tri’s Eden Rae Davies who didn’t compete at Sandman. In the Male categories, although the stage win went to Cycle Specifics Joshua Jones, it was Pembrokeshire’s Dafydd Brown who finished top of the tree on 210 points ahead of Llanelli’s Jack Southam in second, who had consistently been in the lead group of swimmers at every race. There’s a bright future for all these youngsters.
With so much activity across the age categories, there were big points on offer across the team competition, which, ironically was probably secured at Stage 5 down the Gower as a skeleton GOG Squad managed to secure 250points on the weekend when they held their own event. This week they backed it up with the biggest haul on the day of 585 points, taking their series tally to 2280, securing top spot from Pembrokeshire by 147points who finished with 2133. There was still a battle for third, with Celtic Tri beating Taff Ely with 1616points to 1421 points respectively. Last years winners, Cardiff Triathletes found themselves back in fifth 1216points, a clear 1000points behind the 2019 winner, GOG Triathlon club.
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