Frenchman Clement Mignon reigned supreme to win the men’s Long Distance world title in dramatic fashion at the 2023 World Triathlon Multisports Championships Ibiza. Crashing into transition at the end of a 120km bike, gathering himself and then leaving it late to pass Antonio Benitez was all in a day’s work for the 24-year-old on route to gold, the Spaniard hanging tough for silver ahead of South Africa’s Matt Trautman.
“I’m super stoked with that performance,” said Benitez. “It was a good swim for me, I pushed a bit too much at the beginning of the bike but the second lap was a little easier for me. The crash into T2 made the beginning of the run hard work, and after Antonio passed me I thought I was in trouble. The wind made it hard to push the pace, and I want to thank Antonio for an amazing race.”
A beautiful beach start greeted the 43 men lined up for the 2023 Long Distance World Championships, the prospect of a tough 3km swim ahead in what had become choppy waters, especially around the far side of Rat Island.
It was no surprise to see the figures of Richard Varga and Joshua Amberger first to emerge from the swim, having stretched out the field through the waves and made sure the advantage to the chasers was as big as possible as they made the long run through transition.
It was just under 30 seconds to a group of six that included Christophe de Keyser (BEL), Clement Mignon (FRA) and Rico Bogen (GER), Lukas Kocar (CZE) three minutes off the pace and Britain’s Joe Skipper already finding himself over six minutes back and with work to do.
De Keyser made up good ground in transition and was soon up on the front two, passing Amberger to take the lead as they approached the halfway point of lap one of two.
By the end of the first lap, Skipper hadn’t been able to bring down the difference, he and Cody Beals (CAN) working together now 6m45s back, another Brit, James Teagle, moving well up ahead into 6th place but also losing time on Bogen, who had now worked his way to the front.
Mignon, Bogen and Benito were riding well together over the final stages of the near-120km ride, Varga sitting two-and-a-half minutes back, Amberger’s deficit now 4 minutes to the front. Teagle was still hanging tough as Skipper slipped to 7.5 minutes off, De Keyser now nine minutes back and Beals over eleven minutes as the athletes began to prepare for the three-lap, 30km run.
Over those closing stages, Benito slipped 80 seconds back as Bogen and Mignon made another surge towards the transition, but it was there that the Frenchman got caught in his pedal at dismount and went flying to the floor. Dazed and a little shaken, he took his time getting into the shoes and spent the majority of the first lap trying to regain his composure and focus on the task in hand.
Bogen was also struggling to click into gear on that first lap, so it was to be Benitez seizing the initiative and closing in on the German before passing on lap two and wasting no time in carving out a useful 30 seconds lead.
Mignon did likewise as he found his rhythm, Varga too was going well 150 seconds back, Trautman, James Teagle and Amberger all within 15 seconds of each other at the halfway point.
With just one 10km lap to go, it looked like Benitez might have the race sewn up, but Mignon was able to summon the reserves for one final push, drawing up on the Spaniard who had nothing left to respond with after a gruelling five hours of racing.
The Frenchman took the tape with delight, Benitez finishing 30 seconds back but safely over for silver ahead of South Africa’s Matt Trautman who ran his way onto the podium and into a world championship medal.
From World Triathlon.