Race Report: Cornyn Fourth in Duathlon World Cup

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In one of his best International results to date, Niall Cornyn has finished fourth at the 2019 Wenzhou ITU Duathlon World Cup in China. Read how the race unfolded for him in his race report...

setting the pace

My performance in the Elite National Champs had left me feeling like I had more to give, so I wanted to finish the season on a high. When this race popped up on the calendar, I jumped at the opportunity. It’s one of the great things about the sport, that you get to travel to places you’d never dream of! This was the inaugural Duathlon World Cup event, so I was interested to see how well the event would be organised. I was taken aback at just how well all the elite athletes were looked after, so I’ll definitely be coming back to race in China some time in the future. Heat training was something that I really should’ve considered when preparing for this race, as it was roughly 28-30 degrees with 90% humidity. Not the sort of weather you’re used to in Ireland - in the space of an hour, just walking around here, you’re soaked in sweat!

The duathlon course was composed of a 5k run, 30k bike (3 x10k laps), and another 5k run. Both the bike and run courses were undulating, and with the combination of heat and humidity, it would be a case of who was the strongest in the sweltering conditions. Once the heartbeat music stopped, the gun went. I immediately found myself at the front of the field, so I decided to set the pace for the 1strun, as I was confident with how my run training had been going the past few weeks. At around the halfway point, there were 7 or 8 guys in the lead pack. With around 500m to go we upped the pace, which ended up dropping 2 or 3 guys by the time we came into transition. 

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Strong from the start

After a quick T1, I mounted my bike, and straight ahead of us was an 8% hill. The hill lasted for roughly 500m, so you really had to put down the power from the get go. For some reason, my legs felt really bad at the start of the bike and at only 5 minutes in, I got dropped on the 2ndhill while pushing 450-470 watts, so these guys weren’t hanging around! After a couple of minutes time trialling, I jumped on the back of the guys we initially dropped and by the end of the 1st lap, we had bridged back up to the lead pack. From there, it was pretty uneventful (apart from the fact I’d misjudged how much liquid I’d need on the bike).

We dismounted at the top of the hill, and rolled our bikes down to transition. I lost a few seconds in T2 which let the 2 Kiwis, Dodds and Cullen, make a significant gap at the start of the 2ndrun. Around 1k in, my body just started to shut down with the heat, so it was a case of grabbing as much ice, water and cold sponges as possible at every station. Winslow had run by me around 2k in, but I just couldn’t go with him as the heat had zapped my legs. Up ahead I noticed Cullen was suffering and I got the gap down to under 10 seconds but with 1k to go, I had no kick whatsoever and the gap increased over the last hill. 

I finished in fourth place, one bittersweet step from the podium. Overall, I’m pretty happy with how the race went, taking into account the heat and humidity on the day. However, it was a steep learning curve on what’s needed to race well in those sort of conditions.