Photo: Mel Saltiel/Triathlon NZ

By Kent Gray/
A moment of cruel luck has robbed Tayler Reid of a probable silver medal and an even bigger Olympic ranking points haul at World Triathlon Cup Wollongong.

The Gisborne 27-year-old had to settle for 4th following a gusty sprint finish after being slapped with a 10 second penalty for “equipment outside the box”.

Reid’s day was undone in T2 when he tossed his helmet into his gear bin but was seemingly unaware that it bounced out as he darted out onto the run.

After a trademark strong swim and tactically clever bike leg, Reid held second place for much of the run behind eventual runaway winner Luke Willian (AUS) and did all he could to hold onto a podium spot once made aware he had a penalty to serve.

A messaged relayed all the way from coach Stephen Sheldrake watching the coverage in Cambridge reached Reid on course and saw him sprint early to try and open up a big enough gap to protect after serving the penalty.

In the final, frustrating wash-up Reid finished the sprint distance race in 53:15 – a single second behind South African silver medalist Jamie Riddle and third-placed Chilean Diego Moya who were credited with the same time.

Reid will just hope the unwitting mistake isn’t too costly in his bid to finish inside the top 30 of World Triathlon’s Olympic Qualification Rankings which could see New Zealand qualify three men for the individual race at the Paris Games on July 30.

He climbed 12 spots to 38th after a runner-up finish at the Oceania Standard Distance Championships in Taupo last Sunday and looked odds on for a near 350 points haul on Saturday.

He’ll still get decent points – unofficially 296.76 – but the mistake will rachet up the tension in his three remaining races in Chengdu, Yokohama and Cagliari before the qualification window slams shut on May 27, the last two of them points rich WTCS starts.

While Ainsley Thorpe claimed bronze in the earlier women’s race, it was a tough day for the Kiwi men in Wollongong with Canterbury’s Saxon Morgan disqualified for inexplicably riding in transition.

Janus Staufenberg, meanwhile, placed 17th in 54:20. Earlier the Wanaka 24-year-old’s partner Olivia Thornbury had finished 18th in the women’s race.

For Willian, remembered in NZ for his 3rd place at Oceania Cup Wanaka two years ago, it was a third World Triathlon Cup gold medal but his first in five years.

The Brisbane triathlete made short work of his win, attacking early on the run to win by 23 seconds from Riddle.

More to follow…

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