What looked like another routine win for Sharon van Rouwendaal in her storied career turned into a gold medal for France on the third stop of the World Aquatics Open Water World Cup 2023 tourn in Setubal, Portugal.
France’s Caroline Jouisse ended Leonie Beck’s chances at a three-peat on Saturday at the third leg of the World Aquatics Open Water World Cup in Setubal, Portugal. The race played out in similar fashion to the first two stops in Egypt and Italy with the Italians Giulia Gabbrielleschi and Ginevra Taddeucci leading the pack with Sharon van Rouwendaal in tow.
Beck had come from way off the pace in both Egypt and Italy to take the win on her back half and in Portugal it appeared we were watching the same movie for the third time. Through 6,000 meters, Beck was in the lead and it looked like she’d pull away for a third straight. But the pack seemed to know this would happen, and pounced on the opportunity the moment Beck showed signs of weakening.
After four laps, van Rouwendaal took the lead with Italian Arianna Bridi in second and Taddeucci in third while Beck had fallen to tenth.
Throughout the last lap, it was a match race led by the 2016 Olympic and 2022 World champion van Rouwendaal and it looked like she was in a comfortable position to win her first 10K of the World Cup.
However, the pack inched their way in, with each swimmer angling their position to try and get a straight shot at the finish line. A horizontal line formed as it came down to who had the most left after nearly two hours of racing.
Ultimately, it was not the reigning World champion or one of the Italian pre-race favourites that touched the finish line first, instead it was France’s Jouisse (2:01:12.1) ahead of Italy’s Bridi (2:01:13.0), Netherlands’s Van Rouwendaal (2:01:13.0), Hungary’s Betti Fabian (2:01:13.5), and Italy’s Taddeucci (2:01:13.6) in a photo finish.
Jouisse gained the lead over the last few meters as she collected some valuable momentum for a French team that is hosting the big show next summer at the Olympics. Italy’s Barbara Pozzobon (2:01:15.2) and Portugal’s Angelica Andre (2:01:15.3) were also in the mix on that final straightaway. Beck faded to 17th at the end (2:03:47.5).
The race was without Olympic champion Ana Marcela Cunha as Van Rouwendaal overtook the top of the points standings through three races with 1750 points while Beck is now in second with 1740. Jouisse now sits third overall with 1300 points.
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Coming Up Next | Mixed Relay on Sunday
The World Cup will continue with the 4x1500m mixed relay on Sunday beginning at 15:30 local time.