France swept the men’s Long Distance World Championships in Weihai with Bertrand Billard retaining his title as the fastest man across the 4km swim, 120km bike, 30km run course. Compatriots Sylvain Sudrie and Viennot Cyril joined him on the podium.
“The organisation (of the race) is perfect,” Billard said. “I would like to thank the French Team, my family and my partners.”
Sudrie, who hadn’t made a World Championship podium since 2011, positioned himself at the front of the pack on the swim alongside Rasmus Petraeus (DEN) and Denis Vasiliev (RUS) while Billard and Greg Bennett (USA) sat in the middle of the field more than a minute back. But with 150km left to cover, the time gap proved no trouble for Billard.
Indeed it was the three-lap bike that changed the race and saw the eventual medallists all but tie up their medals as the only athletes to split the discipline under three hours. Billard was brilliant on the bike, blowing past the nine men that were ahead of him on the swim.
Despite his strong cycle, he showed no signs of slowing down on the four-lap run. With the fifth-fastest run split of the day, Billard retained his crown in a time of five hours, nine minutes and nine seconds.
While Sudrie couldn’t keep pace with his teammate, the advantage he had on the swim and bike was more than enough to hold off Cyril and company in a time of 5:11:50.
Cyril, who got to T1 nearly six minutes after the leaders with pre-race favourite Craig Alexander (AUS), made up major ground on the bike to put himself back in the race. Cyril finished off the day with a solid run that clenched the final top spot in 5:15:34.