Paratriathlete and guide pairing Alison Peasgood and Brooke Gillies returned from France with gold medals from 2022 World Triathlon Para Cup Besancon on Saturday 11 June.
Peasgood, who is visually impaired, raced with Gillies as her guide to support her on the 750m open water swim, 21.35km bike and 5km run, with the pair starting their race just after 14:10 local time.
“It’s unusual having an afternoon race, quite often we’re in the morning,” Peasgood commented. “It was much more of a leisurely start to the day. We got up and had breakfast, made sure our bags were packed, added our race tattoo numbers. The little things to make sure we were all ready.”
Gillies, who guided Peasgood to World Championship bronze in Abu Dhabi last November, added: “Guiding, you think of everything that’s going to come, so you’re thinking of that next corner that’s ahead and making sure you’re in that right gear or making sure the athlete is aware of what’s coming next.”
Communicating in the water means that Peasgood and Gillies have a series of taps to allow them to navigate the course together.
“For me, I can’t see much at all in the water,” Peasgood commented. “I can’t see the buoys at all, I can’t see Brooke, so I quite like to practice that over and over so that when I get tapped for the first time I know that means we’ve got a tight 90 right so you know what angle each thing is because we’re practised it over and over.
“I get a tap on my head for buoys to turn and we’ll have practised them to know what angle that is. Then she’ll tap me lower down if she wants me to have a surge and then more a firm pat on the head when it’s time to stand up and get out of the water.”
For Gillies, she’ll learn the course in a different way to when she races on her own, identifying key points that she’ll need to speak to Peasgood about and providing timing and position updates through the race.
“When we’re in transition, Ali will say when she’s ready,” she added. “It’s having that routine of who’s doing what in transition and getting out on the bike. It’s simple words to say what’s going on.
“I was pretty calm because we’d done so much training together. So going through the swim, I knew that if the Italian got away slightly we wouldn’t let them out of sight.
“Going up the first hill we could see the Italians and that’s when we wanted to make a move coming slightly down the hill. I would just say ‘Italians ahead’ and then we’d just drive past them.
“On the second lap we came around and had the French ahead of us, so I just said ‘that’s the French in front’ so then we made a pass because we wanted to make sure that when we passed them that we were out of sight as soon as we could so that they didn’t have us in sight.
“Coming out onto the run, it was getting hydration straightaway because we were very warm. We got water straight away and there was a small part where there was a u-turn and we could see the French coming towards us but we had already made quite a big gap. On the second lap we just relaxed into our run and kept pressing on.”
Reflecting on the race, Peasgood said: “I really enjoyed the bike, that’s my biggest strength. The course suits those that are good at riding a tandem. Uphill that’s where my strength comes into it and the downhill is where Brooke’s ability to handle a tandem well really shone through.
“I was pleased that we were able to put together a pretty solid run given how hot it was. I actually had a bit of a plan to run five minutes really solid off the bike and then settle in to a pace. When we got into that five minutes and we settled in, we stuck to that and kept that solid pace going.
“Make sure you don’t finish in front of me! “It was so nice to have the tape again after Covid, so to be able to finish a race and have that finish line tape moment was pretty special and that was our first one together, the first race we’ve won together.”
As well as gold for Peasgood and Gillies, Dave Ellis and his guide Luke Pollard made it a double gold for Britain in the visually impaired classifications. Welsh paratriathlete Rhys Jones also finished seventh alongside his guide Rhys James in the men’s PTVI race.
Claire Cashmore also returned from France with a medal, securing silver in the women’s PTS5 classification behind American Grace Norman. In the men’s PTS4 category, Finley Jakes finished sixth.
This summer sees World Triathlon Para Series racing head to Britain, as Volvo 2022 World Triathlon Para Series Swansea hosts the best in the world on Saturday 6 August.