By Kent Gray/Triathlon.kiwi
After yet more heroics in Malibu, our Super League Triathlon Kiwis are back in Europe enjoying a rare race-free weekend at their training base in Girona, Spain.
It’s a well-deserved breather for Hayden Wilde, Tayler Reid and Nicole van der Kaay – if you can call training a breather – ahead of a huge final push to the finish line of what has been a busy but thus far, ahem, Wildely successful year.
On the horizon is the resumption of the World Triathlon Championship Series in Cagliari on October 8. The standard distance race in Italy is particularly important for Wilde who leads the men’s standings from France’s Léo Bergere and Belgian Jelle Geens with three races to go but will watch from afar with enough points in the bank to ensure he’ll line up at the Abu Dhabi finale with a chance to win the overall title, while Reid and van der Kaay will be eyeing vital Paris Olympics qualification points.
But that is for later. For now, we’re focused on the final two SLT stops in Toulouse and Neom, Saudi Arabia on October 2 and 29 respectively. So while our Kiwis in Team Sharks clothing are training, we also refuse to rest. With that, welcome to our completely unscientific STL Mid-Term report…in Instagram posts. More specifically, it’s a recap of SLT Malibu where Wilde won, Reid raced up to fourth overall, and van der Kaay once again showed her resilience. Enjoy.
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Hayden Wilde (1st overall) – London 1st/Munich 3rd/Malibu 1st
The Whakatane Falcon answered the doubters (are you listening Macca?), again, with victory in Malibu. Sadly, Aussie rival Matt Hauser crashed out on the first bike leg, robbing the race of its much-anticipated trans-Tasman battle and perhaps the series of a true title race. But you can only race what is in front of you, and quite often recently that has been no one in Wilde’s case. In Malibu, he minimised the damage in the big surf and then cycled and ran away from everyone to make the series his to lose.
You have to feel for Hauser who has been the only athlete to consistently bring the hurt to Wilde in the three Super League rounds so far. Here’s hoping the big Aussie can get that road rash sorted in time for Toulouse. He’s certainly talking a good game.
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Tayler Reid (4th overall) – London 8th/Munich 6th/Malibu 7th
Consistency has been the key for Reid who has fought back bravely from COVID pre the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. He clearly loved returning to his Gisborne surf roots in California, leading for much of the second swim-bike-run leg before Sharks team-mate Wilde wrestled control.
Talking of big surf moments, how about this one for the bloopers reel…
Ouch! We hoped that bump buffed out in the morning.
But seriously, we loved the big moves put on by the likes of Reid in the Malibu swells. There were some #GizzyHard shots fired on Zuma Beach too as he played argy-bargy with Hauser for the ‘Blue Jersey’ swim points after the opening rinse. It wouldn’t have been out of place in a Bledisloe Cup test.
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Nicole van der Kaay (8th overall) – London 10th/ Munich 10th/Malibu 9th
On our unofficial true grit-o-metre, van der Kaay rates a 10 out of 10. In all three Super Leagues races thus far, the Kiwi has struggled in the swim and seemed to be racing to avoid in-race relegation. And each time she has biked to safety and kicked to top 10s with her run prowess. It all bodes well for the future, especially with so many important Mixed Relay races on the horizon.
Van der Kaay’s 9th placing wasn’t without misfortune either when she got caught in a bike traffic jam.
It turns out van der Kaay was lucky to have a bike to race on at all, as she revealed in the post above. “Big thanks to @superleaguetriathlon crew for pulling a late shift retrieving 6 lost bikes, 2 days out from the race! Epic team.”
Epic team, epic league, epic racing.
The last word, perhaps aptly so, goes to Wilde. It seems even the fittest of the fit can’t resist a cool treat every now and then and when you’ve travelled the world, you clearly know a good ice cream from a great one.
Racing with cherries on top. Roll on Toulouse.