Dave Ellis, alongside his guide Luke Pollard, have retained their PTVI world title for the third time with a dominant performance that saw them take the victory at the World Triathlon Championships Abu Dhabi.
The Commonwealth Champions continued their 2022 winning run and added world gold to their already impressive medal tally. They were joined by Alison Peasgood and guide Brooke Gillies (PTVI) and Claire Cashmore (PTS5) as medallists for the British contingent on the first day of the competition.
Ellis and Pollard came out of the water further down the field after the factored start but as with their race plan they make up time on the bike leg.
As the pair came in for transition two, they were caught by the French pair of Thibaut Rigaudeau and his guide which left Ellis and Pollard with some work to do on the opening leg of the run course.
The Brits made light work of it though and showed their strength to overtake the French athletes and move clear into the lead. They further extended their advantage and took the tape with a minute’s lead.
“It’s brilliant to be World Champion again,” Ellis said. “It feels like it gets more difficult every time because everyone is gunning for you, and you get a bit nervous about it. To defend the title back in Abu Dhabi is awesome.
“We were chasing for a bit. It’s a real quick bike and it’s tough to catch people, everyone was going really quick. Thankfully we came off near the front and then could put a good run together.
Pollard added: “With the start of the year with Dave’s broken arms, he’s really dedicated himself this year and it’s really paid off today. It’s pretty massive, it feels pretty special.”
Paralympic bronze medallist Claire Cashmore returned to action to take on Paralympic silver medallist Grace Norman (USA) for the PTS5 victory.
Cashmore put in an excellent swim to get to the front for some clear water and entered transition in the lead. It was the bike leg where the true fight for the gold took place, and the pair were going head-to-head before Norman had too much for Cashmore and took the lead.
Coming into transition two, Norman was almost a minute up on the Brit before enjoying a strong run split to put the victory out of Cashmore’s hands.
After a tough season, Cashmore was pleased with silver: “It was a great race. I came out of the swim pretty well, it was the best swim I’ve had in a long time. The first bit we were battering each other, it was very messy, but as soon as I got away it was really good. I got out onto the bike first and then Grace [Norman] just had a phenomenal bike.
“It’s very much where I am right now, and I’m really chuffed with that for this year and hopefully I will come back stronger and fitter next year. On the run it was about maintaining that distance to Grace and come away with the second.
“It felt quite emotional for me coming through the finish line, just thinking about George [Peasgood] and you feel so grateful and happy to be here and be racing. I think you realise how incredibly lucky we are to have this opportunity and never take it for granted.
“All of us having George on our trisuit wills us through knowing he’s with us the whole way and I think as a team we’re such a strong unit, we’ve got his back the whole way. It’s definitely brought us closer together.”
Peasgood and Gillies put in a strong fight to equal the result from the World Championships in Abu Dhabi in 2021.
The last time the pair raced together was at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and they came off their bike so didn’t complete the race. Peasgood has also been out of training for almost eight weeks due to her brother-in-law George Peasgood’s accident in October so didn’t have the best preparation for the event.
In today’s race, they showed their strength to put in an excellent performance and fight back through the field to finish in third place.
“It feels like first place to me,” Peasgood said. “I didn’t think we would be here fighting this World Champs so to be here and for Brooke to get me around so safely I couldn’t be happier.
“Everyone was saying your 30 seconds, your 20 seconds, your 15 seconds, I said to Brooke ‘I just want to finish, it doesn’t matter’. The conditions were fine on the swim and bike, and it was fine on the run. It wasn’t as hot as I thought it was going to be. It wasn’t as hot as Tokyo.”
“It was a hard race for sure, but mentality took us through, George [Peasgood] brought us home and so did my Nanna,” Gillies added. “I think we’ve done everyone proud, and we have done what we could today. We can’t be happier than third place, it’s the icing on the cake.
“After we got to the last turn point at the top, we had already passed them and that’s when we thought we can just hold this pace, we don’t need to push any harder and we saw the gap open up and up and that gave us the confidence.”
The World Championship debutants of Colin Wallace (PTS3), Megan Richter (PTS4), Mel Nicholls (PTWC) and Michael Salisbury (PTS5) finished fourth, fourth, fifth and eighth respectively. They all showcased their potential for the future having put in solid performances at this level.
Finley Jakes secured seventh place in the PTS4 men’s race, bettering his result from 12 months ago.