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Erica Hawley 20th at World Triathlon Cup in Mexico

Erica Hawley (Photograph by Aaron Smith)

Erica Hawley claimed a 20th-place finish competing in the World Triathlon Cup Huatulco in Mexico.

Battling against temperatures tipping above 30C, the Bermudian, endured a difficult 750-metre swim, exiting the water in 33rd position in a time of 10min 21sec. The 22-year-old moved up the pack on the 20-kilometre bike discipline, completing the course in 30:22 to head into the 5km run in ninth.

Despite a spirited run of 18:23, Hawley could not hang on to a top-ten finish as she settled for 20th in combined time of 1hr 1min 40sec, slightly more than a minute and a half adrift of winner Annika Koch, of Germany.

The waters were calm for the cove beach start, the threat of a storm subsiding leaving 56 women to line up for the start of the swim in the warm Pacific Ocean.

Erika Ackerlund, of the United States, took to the right side of the sand for what looked the shortest line to the buoy, with Italian Bianca Seregni the only one of the highest-ranked women to opt for the far left, choosing to follow the line of the pier.

That tactic worked well as she was soon in clear water and spearheading the field towards the first buoy and a long turn back to shore, with Canadian Kira Gupta-Baltazar giving chase.

As the athletes made their way back in, Lizeth Rueda Santos was met by a roar as the leading Mexican in third, Japan’s Kotomi Anzai and Yuka Sato also delivering great swims, but Seregni already had 20 seconds of daylight.

The long run to transition spread the field farther, Koch, Ackerlund and Luisa Baptista well placed but Anzai was struggling to mount and lost ground as she hit the tarmac, while Austria’s Lisa Perterer was a minute off the Italian leader after a difficult time in the swim.

Seregni’s time alone out front was to be short-lived, passing up the prospect of pushing hard for a solo breakaway in the heat and allowing herself to be caught by the likes of Canada’s Emy Legault, Cecilia Perez, of Mexico and Slovakia’s Ivana Kuriackova.

By the halfway point of the bike the third pack had caught on too, 32 athletes now together snaking through transition at the bell after the unfortunate Ackerlund tried to ride through a puncture only to veer into the kerb and come off, her hopes of a first podium dashed.

The athletes poured into transition led by Koch, Legault, Seregni and Baptista, with Perterer in striking position, too, and Ecuador’s Elizabeth Bravo just 12 seconds back.

However, as Koch went through the gears and looked increasingly comfortable up front, it soon became clear that only Legault and Seregni were going to be able to stay in touch.

Perterer was also going well, but with the battle for silver heating up ahead, Legault and Seregni would not be caught, the Canadian giving everything she had to hold on to second, only for Seregni to pass with 1km to go.

As Koch took the final left turn to the blue carpet, she knew she had time to soak up the moment, a mixture of delight and relief on her face as she lifted the tape, while Legault had rallied to pass the Italian one last time and drive to the line and ensure her first World Cup podium would be silver.

Perterer crossed in fourth, Rosa Tapia was Mexico’s top finisher in fifth and Brazil’s Baptista came home in sixth.

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Published June 22, 2022 at 7:53 am (Updated June 22, 2022 at 7:53 am)

Erica Hawley 20th at World Triathlon Cup in Mexico

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