Jessica Fullagar anchored the Great Britain team to a silver medal on home soil in the mixed team relay at AJ Bell 2023 World Triathlon Championship Series Sunderland.
Barclay Izzard got things underway and gave a fresh Beth Potter, who did not compete in the individual races, the platform to go on and take first place. Max Stapley was on leg three for Great Britain and he kept his side in medal contention. That left World Triathlon Championship Series debutant Fullagar to battle it out with New Zealand for second place and, after, Brea Roderick picked up a 10 second penalty in T2, she crossed home to secure the silver medal.
Izzard started things off for Great Britain. He exited the swim in 12th, with American Chase McQueen leading the way, before gaining four places in T1 with a quick transition. He quickly hit the front of the pack and was joined by McQueen, Tom Richard of France, and Vasco Vilaca of Portugal as two seconds covered the top 15 places at the halfway point of the bike leg.
Heading into T2, Izzard was still at the front and came onto the run in third place with Norway’s Vetle Bergsvik Thorn leading the way. He quickly took the lead of the race but only for a short distance as several athletes exchanged positions in a tight group. At the change over it was Vilaca who led the way, with Izzard handing over to Potter in sixth, ahead of Australia’s Charlotte McShane and just behind France’s Emma Lombardi.
Melanie Santos increased Portugal’s lead to five seconds after the swim with Potter level with Spain’s Miriam Casillas Garcia in seventh place. On the first lap of the bike, the Brit began forcing the pace and took the lead, causing the lead group to split with just three athletes going with her. As they hit the halfway stage of the bike leg, that group grew with four more athletes joining them as Potter occupied fourth place.
Heading into T2 Potter was still fourth, but a quick transition saw her come out in second behind Casillas Garcia who missed the dismount line into T2 and picked up a 10 second penalty. She then took charge of the race and moved into first place ahead of Julie Derron of Switzerland. She remained ahead of the Swiss athlete until change over and gave Max Stapley the lead of the race.
He took control of the swim and led out of the water by a few seconds before building a slender lead to Darr Smith of the USA, Adrien Briffod of Switzerland, Pierre Le Corre of France and Ricardo Batista of Portugal. His lead grew to 10 seconds over the chasing pack, with a further pack including New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde making inroads to them.
Stapley lead out of T2 but was quickly caught by Wilde who took the lead and built a three second advantage over the British athlete by the start of the second lap. Brifford sat behind the pair in third with Le Corre of France also closing up.
The British athlete dropped back to fourth as he handed over to Fullagar, with France leading thanks to Le Corre’s late sprint. A strong swim and a slick transition saw her exit T1 in third place behind Cassandre Beaugrand of France and Roderick of New Zealand. The gap to Beaugrand was cut quickly throughout the first lap of the bike and Fullagar took the lead at the start of lap two. She continued to work hard and led the race into T2 but Beaugrand was four seconds clear heading onto the run.
Beaugrand, despite taking her 10 second penalty, led by 22 seconds as they headed onto lap two with Fullagar in second place. Fullagar continued to push alongside Roderick, but with the New Zealander serving a 10 second penalty for an error in T2, the Brit was free to cross the line in second place unchallenged.