2018 TYR Pro Swim Series at Mesa: Day Four Live Recap

Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

The last session of the TYR Pro Swim Series at Mesa was underway this morning with just one event: the 1500 freestyle. Georgia freshman Olivia Anderson is the top seed for the women’s race, while Olympian and 2015 Open Water Champion Jordan Wilimovsky is entered as the top seed in the men’s 1500.

Women’s 1500 Freestyle

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Ashley Neidigh was the top finisher in the women’s 1500 free, winning the event by over 10 seconds in 16:38.24. In second was top seed Olivia Anderson (16:50.92), the only other finisher under 17 minutes. Tennessee’s Amanda Nunan was third in 17:02.77, while Emma Sundstedt (17:15.27) finished fourth. The rest of the final was comprised of Juli Arzave (17:28.08), Kate McCarville (17:30.10), Heidi George (17:37.82), and Allison Bernier (17:51.47).

Men’s 1500 Freestyle

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Michael Valgren takes impressive victory at Amstel Gold Race 2018

The Dane out-sprinted Roman Kreuziger to the line after breaking clear from small leading group

Michael Valgren (Astana) took the biggest victory of his career at the 2018 Amstel Gold Race, beating Roman Kreuziger (Mitchelton-Scott) to the line in a two-up sprint.

Valgren, who finished second at the 2016 Amstel Gold Race, made the key move of the race with just over 2km remaining, breaking clear of a select eight-man leading group which included the likes of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step), Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) and his team-mate Jakob Fuglsang.

>>> World champion Chantal Blaak wins 2018 Amstel Gold Race

Kreuziger was the first to jump over to join him, while two-time Amstel winner Enrico Gasparotto (Bahrain-Merida) delayed before making pursuit in the final 1500m.

Kreuziger and Valgren entered the final 800m with a significant gap to group behind, and prepared to battle it out in a sprint with Gasparotto looming just behind.

2013 winner Kreuziger never looked confident of taking on the Dane, letting him drift behind him in the final few hundred metres.

Valgren was then able to launch his sprint with his Czech rival unable to respond, allowing the Astana man to celebrate over the line as he took victory.

Gasparotto rolled in just after for third place, with Sagan winning the sprint for fourth ahead of Valverde.

How it happened

With 263km on the cards from Maastricht to Valkenburg, the peloton were happy to let a substantial group get up the road and gain some time early on.

Bram Tankink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Tsgabu Grmay (Trek-Segafredo), Matteo Bono (UAE Team Emirates), Lawson Craddock (EF-Drapac), Oscar Riesebeek (Roompot), Eddie Dunbar (Aqua Blue Sport), Marco Tizza (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Willem Smit (Katusha-Alpecin) and Preben Van Hecke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) were the riders to break clear, gaining over 15 minutes in advantage.

With little action to speak of over the attritional climbs of the race and the gap gradually reducing, it only severely came down ahead of 50km to go, dropping to three minutes.

Things really began to heat up towards the Eyserbosweg climb with around 37km to go, with a huge number of riders shed out of the back of the peloton on the climb, and the gap down to 1-40.

Attacks came thick and fast in the final 30km to try and thin out the main group, with world champion Peter Sagan among those attempting to break away.

Enrico Gasparotto and Roman Kreuziger made the first distinctive move from the peloton, getting a circa 25 second gap on the main group and eventually bridging to the original break on the Cauberg.

The peloton loomed with 27 seconds to the front group after setting a ferocious pace up the Cauberg with around 18km to go, with no-one able to break free with an attack, despite riders like Julian Alphilippe and Jakob Fuglsang trying to get free over the top of the race’s iconic climb.

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Rudy Molard (FDJ) were able to briefly get clear approaching a crossing of the finish line with around 15km to go, but were unable to bridge to the break out front which still had just shy of 20 seconds.

The breakers were eventually caught over the top of the Geulhemmerberg, with Alejandro Valverde dragging a group of Tim Wellens, Peter Sagan, Michael Valgren as well as Fuglsang and Alaphilippe across the gap with a stinging effort up the climb.

Van Avermaet, Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) were the key riders to miss out on the move, and were quickly dropped into a group that found itself over 20 seconds behind the leaders.

Fuglsang was the first to try on the final climb of Bemmelerberg as he tracked two riders from the original break before going solo, but was soon joined by Valverde and the rest of the group.

Astana then tried to make their two-man advantage count as Valgren attacked with 4.6km to go, but he was tracked closely by the group who were keen to stop anyone getting clear.

But Valgren then tried again with just over 2km to go, taking advantage of the hesitation from the likes of Sagan and Valverde who were perhaps thinking of a sprint finish, with the Dane getting clear with Kreuziger joining him.

No-one looked up for chasing them down until Gasparotto made a late move, but he was unable to get back up the pair as they fought it out for victory.

Results

Amstel Gold Race 2018 (263km)

1 Michael Valgren (Den) Astana Pro Team
2 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Mitchelton-Scott
3 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
4 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
5 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar Team
6 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
7 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors
8 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
9 Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First-Drapac
10 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal

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Kyle Edmund: British number one beaten by Pablo Andujar in Marrakesh final

Kyle Edmund

British number one Kyle Edmund lost his maiden ATP Tour final as he was beaten by Spain’s Pablo Andujar at the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakesh.

Andujar, 32, a two-time former champion who has fallen to 355th in the world after a series of elbow operations, won 6-2 6-2 in 83 minutes.

Edmund, 23, won twice on Saturday but struggled on a slow surface and had his service broken six times.

Andujar’s fourth career title was his first since the Swiss Open in 2014.

Previously ranked as high as 32nd, Andujar is the lowest-ranked ATP singles champion since Lleyton Hewitt won the Adelaide International in 1998 ranked 550th in the world.

Despite the loss, Edmund will rise to a career-high of 23rd in the world rankings.

He is set to compete in the Monte Carlo Masters, which began on Sunday in Monaco.

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(Video Interview) Zoe Bartel on her Mystery IM Performance, Goals for the Summer

Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

Zoe Bartel, a Stanford commit who put up strong performances in the 50-meter breast knockout event and the 200-meter IM mystery swim at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Mesa, discusses how she was super stressed behind the blocks for the mystery IM but felt strong about the order she was assigned. Her strength comes in breaststroke, and that was last for her so she could bring the race home.

She also discusses her goals for the summer, most notably to make the national team, which she feels is the next step for her as a competitor. She looks up to many of the people on the national team, and still feels it is a dream come true to race next to them.

Watch more video interviews from TYR Pro Swim Series in Mesa here.

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(Video Interview) Michael Chadwick Discusses the Married Life

Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

Michael Chadwick, who put up strong times in the men’s 50-meter freestyle shootout this weekend at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Mesa, Arizona, discusses coming back to racing after a break since short course nationals. A lot happened during that break, the least of which he married his long-time girlfriend Cassi Diya. In talking with Swimming World, he discusses his honeymoon trip, the benefits of married life, and the positive training environment he experienced over the past few months.

He attended a national team camp, where he worked with notable coaches such as David Marsh, Bill Rose, and Jon Urbanchek. The great amount of wisdom on the pool deck and the ability to test his limits and challenge what he thinks he is capable of were his biggest takeaways from that experience.

He also discusses the success of his pro swimming career and the process of forming successful partnerships and sponsorships.

Watch more video interviews from TYR Pro Swim Series Mesa here.

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(Video Interview) Leah Smith Discusses Her Distance Sweep at Mesa

Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

Leah Smith, who claimed her third victory of the TYR Pro Swim Series in Mesa last night in the 400-meter freestyle, spoke with Swimming World about her international line-up of events, her performance in the distance events this weekend, and her increasing preparation for the 400 IM.

Overall, she was happy with her races, especially her 400 freestyle. Not only was she faster in the event than she was at this meet last year, it put her at seventh in world rankings this year. In the 800, she mentions she almost even split the event and was satisfied with her time.

In terms of other events, Smith swam some races outside of her international wheelhouse, including the 200-meter IM and 200-meter butterfly. Internationally, she isn’t planning on racing these but swam them this weekend in the hope of improving the strength of her fly-to-back transition in the 400 IM. The shootout format also appeals to her in gaining more experience with doubles and trials-finals racing.

Watch more video interviews from the TYR Pro Swim Series Mesa here.

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(Video Interview) Michael Andrew Discusses Pros and Cons of Shootout Format of Racing at Mesa

Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

Michael Andrew powered to a swift 50 fly win against competition including Giles Smith, Tim Phillips, and Pace Clark at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Mesa, Arizona yesterday. His time of 23.38 ranks him among top ten in the world so far this year. He also put up admirable times in the 50 freestyle shootout, with a 22.25 to nab the first seed and then fading slightly after swimming three successive races to a 23.70.

When speaking with Swimming World, he addresses the shootout format of racing here at Mesa, in which instead of swimmers having one final race and then months to get ready for their next full-out race, they have minutes. Swimming three 50’s back-to-back against stiff competition is a tough thing for any swimmer, but Andrew feels more prepared due to his race pace training background.

Andrew couldn’t recall the last time he’s gone a 23.70 in a 50 free, and credits the time to the previous five 50’s he had swum just before. He mentions how “it all started to fall apart” after about 30 meters of the race, due to such a difficult lineup of events. Looking forward to swimming at a similarly set-up meet in a few weeks, the Kentucky Derby, Andrew is looking to maximize his effort and recovery between each race.

Watch more video interviews from the TYR Pro Swim Series Mesa here.

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(Video Interview) Mallory Comerford Reflects on Growth Since Freshman Year at Louisville

Photo Courtesy: Taylor O’Brien

Mallory Comerford has had a successful weekend at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Mesa, Arizona, most recently winning the 50 free knockout title against some stiff competition including Kelsi Dahlia, Lia Neal, and Margo Geer, with a time of 24.94.

Comerford spoke with Swimming World after a big day of racing on Saturday, and reflected on how much has changed since her freshman year, recalling how she went “like, a 26.6” in the 50 free back then. She credits some of her improvement to her time on the national team and the support and camaraderie of her teammates.

Although her 200 freestyle wasn’t exactly what she expected with a 2:02.72, she mentions how it is her hardest race now and each time she races it, she uses that experience to better herself and learn more about how to race the event.

Watch more video interviews from the TYR Pro Swim Series in Mesa here.

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Catawba College Names Paralympic Medalist Tharon Drake Assistant Coach

Photo Courtesy: @usparalympics Instagram/Getty Images

SALISBURY, N.C. — Catawba College swim coach, Michael Sever, has announced that Tharon Drake has been named as assistant coach for the men’s and women’s swimming programs. Drake comes to Catawba from the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. He is a current member of Team USA and the United States Paralympic National Team.

“I am beyond ecstatic to introduce Tharon as a member of my coaching staff,” stated Sever. “Tharon is an amazing person, full of enthusiasm, positivity, wisdom and experience.”

Drake, who competes in the S11 classification for blind swimmers, holds 13 current American Records. He won silver medals in the 400 freestyle and the 100 breast at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. At the 2017 World Para Swimming Championships in Mexico City, Drake took gold in the 400 free and the 100 breast. He grabbed a silver in the 200 individual medley.

Drake, a native of Hobbs, N. M., is excited to join the program to be able to introduce a new way to view swimming. Drake has an extraordinary ability to use his hearing to provide technical stroke feedback and split times much like any other coach.

Press release courtesy of Catawba Athletics.

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World champion Chantal Blaak wins 2018 Amstel Gold Race

The Dutchwoman beat Lucinda Brand and Amanda Spratt into second and third place respectively

World champion Chantal Blaak bagged her first WorldTour victory in the rainbow bands on Sunday at Amstel Gold Race.

The 28-year-old out-sprinted compatriot Lucinda Brand (Sunweb) and Australian Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) into second and third place respectively.

>>> Amstel Gold Race 2018: Everything you need to know

After a tense final 10km, the trio broke away from five fellow escapees on the last of three accents of the Cauberg with just under two kilometres to go. Spratt attacked first but Blaak was able to follow, racing the intelligently until she followed Brand when she opened her sprint first.

The event is the home race for Blaak’s Boels-Dolmans team, the route passing the HQ of sponsor Dolmans, and the pressure was on the team to repeat Anna van der Breggen’s success at last year’s race.

How it happened

Under clear blue skies the 116.9 km race set off from Grote Markt in Maastricht, soon rolling through huge crowds who had come to see both men’s and women’s events begin.

The race comprised an opening section of 66km before it entered a final circuit of 16.9km, which the peloton tackled three times. This loop took in the the Geulhemmerberg, Bemelerberg and the race’s signature climb, the Cauberg, the last of which was ascended four on occasions. Unlike the men’s race, this remains the event’s final challenge, the finish line coming around one kilometre over the top.

The opening kilometres were uneventful, a crash for Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) and a front wheel puncture for Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) who placed third here last year, the only moments of note.

With 40km behind them, Blaak’s Boels-Dolmans team came to the front on the approach to the Eyserbosweg, the fifth of the day’s 17 climbs, lifting the pressure. However, it was only on the seventh climb, the Keutenberg and its 20 per cent ramps, that the pressure told, the peloton splitting into three, the front group comprising 40 riders.

As they approached the Cauberg for the first time eight riders broke clear. Blaak, Spratt and Brand joined by Alexis Ryan (Canyon-SRAM), Lotta Lepistö (Cervélo-Bigla), Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Wiggle-High5), Riejanne Markus (Waowdeals) and Giorgia Bronzini (Cylance) crested the Cauberg with a lead of 30 seconds over the chasers.

With all the top teams represented in that group, however, their advantage soon exceeded 2.30, as behind them the peloton reformed.

Though the gap came down to just over one minute, a late effort to catch the break by Movistar and Alé-Cipollini failed, and by the time the leaders crossed the finish line for the penultimate time their advantage was 1.35.

As the leaders began the final ascent of the Bemelerberg, their lead at 1-15, Sunweb came to the front, slowing the pursuit to protect the interests off Brand ahead.

“It’s amazing, I had so many fans on the road and I heard my name so many times and that is good for my morale today,” Blaak said afterwards.

“It is always complicated if you are with eight in the breakaway, you are the only one from your team and you have the trust from behind, so I am the one who has to do it today because everyone of my team is strong enough to win. So it was in my hands and that is pressure, but I like that.”

The Women’s WorldTour enters an intense phase now, with the next race La Flèche Wallonne coming on Wednesday, followed next Sunday by the second edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Result

Amstel Gold Race Women (116.9km)

1. Chantal Blaak (Ned) Boels-Dolmans in
2. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Sunweb at
3. Amanda Spratt (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
4. Riejanne Markus (Ned) Waowdeals
5. Alexis Ryan (USA) Canyon-SRAM
6. Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Fra) Wiggle-High5
7. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Cylance
8. Lotta Lepistö (Fin) Cervélo-Bigla
9. Eugenia Bujak (Pol) BTC City Ljubljana
10. Marianne Vos (Ned) Waowdeals

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