Team Leeds I lifted the cup for a second consecutive year after a solid all-round performance which saw the quartet take the tape nearly a minute ahead of a fast-finishing Loughborough I squad. Australia took bronze, one second adrift.
Six years to the day that triathlon featured at the London 2012 Olympics, on Saturday 4 August 15 teams lined up alongside London’s docklands on a scorching evening in the capital. But after just under 70 minutes of racing it was Tom Bishop who anchored Leeds I to victory, welcomed home by teammates Lucy Hall, Sam Dickinson and Georgia Taylor-Brown who produced a stellar performance that matched their number one seeding.
The eventual winners were off to a strong start on the 300m swim, but it was Loughborough I’s Sophie Coldwell who lead out of the first T1, with Hall and Natalie Van Coevorden (Australia) for company. The trio created a 30-second lead following the 5.6km bike leg and it was Coldwell and Van Coevordon who then broke away on the 1.4km run to tag Barclay Izzard and Marcel Walkington, respectively.
Come leg two and all three teams maintained their dominance. A storming run from Dickinson, who returns from injury, allowed Leeds I’s Taylor-Brown to be awarded the first tag, with Tamsyn Moana-Veale (Australia) hot on her heels. The pair were closely followed by Jodie Stimpson (Loughborough I) and Hannah Knighton (New Zealand), after Kiwi teammate Dylan McCullough managed to latch onto the leaders.
Not even a strong bike from Jodie Stimpson could impact Taylor-Brown, who biked solo to extend her lead to 40 seconds over the field. The two-time 2018 WTS medallist handed over to Bishop after a classy run, followed by Stimpson who worked hard to close the gap. At this point, both Loughborough II and Bath squads had put themselves back in the running, closing in on Australia.
It was going to take something special for anyone to deny Leeds I the 2018 Accenture British Triathlon Mixed Relay Cup title at this point and Tom Bishop cruised home to confirm victory for Leeds I, repeating his heroics from 12 months ago.
Behind them a battle ensued for second place and it was Chris Perham, who took on the final leg for Great Britain at WTS Edmonton last weekend, that outsprinted the Australian Matthew Roberts and claimed silver for the squad. New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde ran well but narrowly missed out on a podium spot.
Tom Bishop (Leeds I) said: “There’s always pressure on the last leg. We had a healthy lead, but you never know! I had a good swim, my transition was efficient and I knew I had to get my head down on the bike. I felt good on the run and I knew we could take it.”
Georgia Taylor-Brown (Leeds I), said “It was amazing - especially see Tom take the tape last year winning in Nottingham. We came here to retain the title but we weren’t too sure; there was a lot of strong teams out there today and we didn’t know if we could do it, but we did, and that’s such an amazing feeling.”
Chris Perham (Loughborough I), said: “I felt I had to push the swim to try and break the Aussie team and get some time back on Tom (Bishop). We worked together on the bike on the first lap and then it got a bit tactical. I just tried to save enough energy for that run – I knew I’d need it.”
Jodie Stimpson (Loughborough I) said: “That was such good fun. Relays are always cracking fun and the smallest mistake can make a huge difference. Thanks to the crowds for sticking around and giving us some support – it really adds to the race.”
Natalie Van Coevorden (Australia), who recorded back to back weekends on the podium after Australia’s win at WTS Edmonton, commented: “We were in the game from the start and the team really executed and we got ourselves on the podium right there. It’s great to be invited to compete at events like this and have some top rising talent compete alongside regulars on the WTS circuit.”
Andy Salmon, British Triathlon CEO, said: “What a fantastic evening in London for the Accenture British Triathlon Mixed Relay Cup. From a mix of talent and experience emerged some fantastic performances which truly put on a show for the crowds lining London’s docklands. Huge congratulations to Team Leeds I who take the Cup for a second year running and to all squads who adorned their team colours and showcased triathlon’s thrilling new discipline.”
Emma McGuigan, Managing Director at Accenture, said: “The crowds lining London’s docklands were treated to a fantastic show as Team Leeds I took top honours at the Accenture British Triathlon Mixed Relay Cup. Accenture is thrilled to have played a leading part in the development and delivery of an event that has whole-heartedly brought mixed relay to life.”
The event is still available to watch on BBC Sport catch-up. Visit the website here.
The Accenture British Triathlon Mixed Relay Cup was delivered by British Triathlon and Accenture, in conjunction with the London Triathlon.
Accenture British Triathlon Mixed Relay Cup results:
1st – Leeds I: Lucy Hall, Sam Dickinson, Georgia Taylor-Brown, Tom Bishop – 1:08:29
2nd – Loughborough I: Sophie Coldwell, Barclay Izzard, Jodie Stimpson, Chris Perham – 1:09:20
3rd – Australia: Natalie Van Coevordon, Marcel Walkington, Tamsyn Moana-Veale, Matthew Roberts – 1:09:21