Hayden Wilde has shrugged off a massively disrupted build-up and an equally calamitous race start to sensationally defend his Super League Triathlon London title and reaffirm his favouritism for the 2022 championship.The series-opening victory earned the Tauranga 25-year-old US$20,000 and followed shortly after Taupo’s Nicole van der Kaay had battled to 10th place in the women’s race around the technical West India Quay race course in the London Docklands, an impressive debut in the quick-fire “triple mix” format collectively billed as triathlon’s fastest series.Cambridge-based Tayler Reid capped a memorable Sunday for the Kiwis with 8th place in the men’s race to help lift the New Zealand-dominated Sharks line-up to second place overall in the concurrently contested teams championship. The Sharks will start the next Super League race – in Munich, Germany early Sunday (NZ Time) – tied on 56 points with the Chris McCormack-managed Bahrain Victorious Scorpions. The teams component of the five-race series promises the leading teams a $320,000 cut of the Super League’s overall $1.4 million prize fund.A painful stomach virus has seen Wilde, second in last year’s Super League Championship behind Alex Yee, endure a “rough” month since finishing a still disputed second to his British rival at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. The far-from-ideal prep seemed to have immediately stymied any chance Wilde had of defending in London as he emerged from the initial 300m swim last of the 20 starters.But the Kiwi star dug deep on the first stage bike (4.6km) and run (1.6km) legs to haul himself back into the race, finishing on Yee’s shoulder as the field paused for the initial two-minute recovery period ahead of the second stage run-bike-swim switch up.


Matt Hauser, racing angry after a case of mistaken identity saw the Aussie initially disqualified and then hastily reinstated for a false start that should have been tagged to Eagles’ team-mate Jamie Riddle (South Africa), impressively took 11 seconds out of Wilde and Yee in the second swim to snatch the lead going into the deciding, pursuit start bike-swim-run third stage.Hauser even had the advantage of a “short chute” on the closing run but could not hold off Wilde who had swum shoulder-to-shoulder, stroke-for-stroke with his trans-Tasman rival and then took more juice out of Hauser and Yee with some impressive bike handling. An early kick on the final 1.6km run left Yee languishing and not even the last-ditch short-cut could save Hauser from the fast-finishing Kiwi “Falcon”.“It’s awesome to back it up [in London] after such a hard four weeks,” said Wilde who had the double satisfaction of beating Yee for the first time since his win in the same race 12 months earlier.Yee, the defending Super League series champion, was racing as a wildcard entry for the Rhinos in what will be his sole Super League start of 2022 as he focuses on the big Olympic distance events ahead. It means the door is ajar for Wilde who will no doubt see a lot more of Hauser in the Super League races ahead: Munich (Sept. 11), Malibu (Sept. 17), Toulouse (Oct. 2) and Neom, Saudi Arabia (Oct.29).“Honestly I feel actually extremely sorry for Matt Hauser,” Wilde continued after Sunday’s start-line drama.

“Unfortunately his partner [team-mate Riddle] got the penalty but unfortunately he [Hauser] had to serve it. Matt raced amazing out there and I actually didn’t realise he had a short chute so I when he turned around early, I thought, man, I’m going to have to work for this and yeah, really happy to bring it home.”

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