Sanders finishes 6th at the Quiberon French Grand Prix

Finishing 6th in a sprint finish for 5th at the Quiberon French Grand Prix on Saturday 2nd September, South African elite triathlete Gillian Sanders is ready for action at the World Triathlon Series grand final at Gold Coast next week. Sanders raced for the Chateauroux Metropole 36 triathlon club, the same club Kate Roberts raced for during her elite career.

Sanders had one of her best swims in the chilly 16 degrees Celsius water, which set her up for a great day racing along the Atlantic coastline. Sanders exited the 750m swim in 6th place in a time of 11:16, 18 seconds behind Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA) who was lying 1st. On the flat yet technical 2-lap 20km cycle course, Sanders set her sights on catching Beaugrand. Finishing the cycle in a quick 28:29, Sanders wanted to execute a hard run along the flat 5km beachfront course. With a run split of 16:56, the execution was indeed hard. The winner of the ladies race, Leonie Periault finished in a time of 57:02, followed by Beaugrand in the sprint finish. Third and rounding up the podium was Sandra Dodet in a time of 57:15.

Proud that her team performed at their best to date, Sanders acknowledges how well teammates Hannah Kitchen and Zoe Thomas raced in a field that Sanders deems equivalent to that of a World Cup race. Kitchen and Thomas finished 16th and 24th respectively. Sanders was full of praise about the hospitality of her team and the attitude of the organisers toward the event, “We get treated very well. It’s a big deal for the French with it being shown on live TV on their main sports channel L’equipe. Our manager was very pleased and even got a call from the mayor extending his congratulations.”

Racing his first grand prix race, South Africa’s 21-year-old Dylan Nortje was happy with the hard race going into world champs soon. Nortje placed 70th in a lineup of top class triathletes, finishing in a time of 55:45 for the Valence triathlon club. Nortje recounts that the swim was brutal, “The level of swimming is like nothing I have ever experienced in my life before.” He exited the water in the 2nd pack in a time of 10:37. The bike leg was difficult for Nortje as his competitors were none too eager to take their turn at the front of the pack and do any work. Apparently the same tactic was adopted in the lead pack, as the chase pack maintained their distance over the 20km bike leg. Nortje finished the cycle in a time of 26:32. Onto the run, Nortje was happy with how his form felt, and is excited to see how he holds out in the U23 elite race at Gold Coast. He completed the run in a 17:21 split.

The podium of the men’s race was made up of Pierre Le Corre, who finished 1st in a time of 49:52. Dorian Coninx finished 2nd in at time of 49:57. Vincente Hernandez claimed bronze to round up the podium in a time of 50:00.

Nortje is certain that in a smaller field in the U23 race at Gold Coast, he’ll have a better swim without all the brutality and the inevitable ‘washing machine effect’ that goes along with a large field. “Going into worlds I am feeling good about my bike and run legs!” Nortje departs for Australia on Thursday, 6 September.