MONTREAL— Charles Paquet matched a career-best, seventh-place performance on the World Triathlon Championship Series in front of friends and family lining the streets of Montreal on Saturday afternoon.
Three weeks shy of his 26th birthday, Paquet took on the best names in the sport to finish seventh for the second time in his career with a time of 54:10. He was also seventh two years ago in Hamburg, Germany. It was the only other top-10 result of his career on the elite triathlon circuit.
“It feels so good to do this in front of my friends, family and my girlfriend,” said Paquet. “This is the best place to have a result like this. It feels so good to have a performance that I know I am capable of doing.”
Paquet popped out of Alexandra Basin in Montreal’s Old Port following the 750-metre wetsuit swim on the heels of teammate, Tyler Mislawchuk, and in the middle of the 55-man field, 20 seconds behind the leader.
The Canadian duo darted out of transition and into the lead group of 13 riders that separated themselves from the field early in the 20-kilometre bike course, but Mislawchuk’s wheels lost grip on one of the slick hair-pin turns in the second lap, sending him to the pavement and dropping him well down in the field and into the back of the chase group.
Paquet continued to ride safely for the next three laps of the 3.3-kilometre bike course before a large train of 35 riders formed back on the slick streets for the final charge to second transition.
“On the bike I was just like ‘don’t crash, don’t crash, don’t crash – stay at the front,” added Paquet after jumping into the arms of his family members at the finish. “I knew the guys at the back were coming back, but I also knew I could have a good run.”
After struggling to find his station in the transition area to park his bike and jump into his running shoes, the Port Cartier, Que. resident regained his composure for the five-kilometre dash through Canada’s cultural capital.
“I mixed up my second transition, but I just told myself to stay focused. I had a Brazilian with me. I tried to stay on his feet, get one guy at a time and get myself back into the top-10,” said Paquet. “I thought this will be a good result, just kept pushing until the end. The crowd helped so much. I love racing in Montreal.”
A silver medallist in the Mixed Team Relay at the 2019 Pan American Games, Paquet did exactly that, and held onto seventh position.
Australia’s Matthew Hauser led wire-to-wire, taking the fourth of seven races on the World Triathlon Championship Series, with a time of 53:47.
Brazil’s Manoel Messias ran to the silver medal with a time of 53:58, while Belgium’s Jelle Geens snagged the final spot on the men’s podium after stopping the clock at 54:02.
Mislawchuk, a scrappy two-time Olympians from Oak Bluff, Man., battled his way back into contention, working feverishly at the front of the chase group, which finally formed back into one large group for the final lap of the bike.
The extra effort cost the 28-year-old Mislawchuk. He didn’t have the legs to maintain pace on the run, but finished a respectable 15th at 54:39.
Martin Sobey, of Charlottetown, P.E.I., was the only other Canadian in the men’s field and finished 37th with a time of 56:55.
Earlier in the day, Canada’s Dominika Jamnicky also threw down what she considered to be the best performance of her career, finishing 17th in the women’s elite race.
“It was an unreal day,” said the jubilant Canuck, who was 15th in a weather-plagued WTCS race in Edmonton in 2016. “I maintained contact in the water, but then found myself dangling off the front group.”
Motivated by the enthusiastic crowd lining the waterfront of Canada’s fourth oldest city, the 30-year-old Jamnicky had her work cut out after emerging from the frigid 750-metre wetsuit swim in 39th position.
The recent chiropractor graduate from Guelph, Ont., dug deep once hopping onto the saddle for the 20-kilometre ride with 57 of the fastest women’s triathletes on the planet.
With Americans Taylor Knibb and Summer Rappaport bolting away from the lead pack, Jamnicky was charging at the front of the second chase group. By the midway point of the bike, the determined Canuck found herself in the middle of a string of 26 riders.
“I knew the race was there. I had nothing to lose and I was like ‘We got to get there because that’s where the results are going to come from.’ I got to the front. I was working with Beth Potter and Jeanne Lahair – they are phenomenal bikers – so we had a good little rotation going.”
They sure did.
At the completion of six laps, Jamnicky was in third spot overall, leading the chase group into second transition about 15 seconds behind the two frontrunners.
“I knew I could get there, and once I was in the front I wanted to stay up there, stay out of trouble and give it my best on the run,” she said. “It was up and down on the run. There were moments I was saying ‘you’re in it to win it,’ and there were moments where I was like ‘I don’’t know if I can finish.’
“I went through all of the emotions, but I gave it my best. I was so close to a top-12 today, but I’m incredibly happy with that performance. I’m really happy with my progression and to be up there with the world’s best is more than I could ask for so I’m really happy. I couldn’t have done this without the Canadian community cheering me through every corner on the course.”
Beth Potter, of Great Britain, won her second World Triathlon Championship Series title, clocking a golden time of 58:10.
Leonie Periault, of France, raced to the silver medal at 58:12, while Summer Rappaport took advantage of a spirited effort on the bike to claim the bronze with a time of 58:19.
Emy Legault, of L’Île Perrot, Que., was 40th at 1:02:01.
The Groupe Copley World Triathlon Championship Series continues on Sunday with the Mixed Team Relay event along with the Junior/U23 Mixed Team Relay National Championships
For complete race and schedule details on the Groupe Copley World Triathlon https://montreal.triathlon.org/
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