With two stage victories under his belt Murray started day three of Super League Triathlon as the clear favourite to be crowned the overall winner. As long as he finished seventh or better the victory, and prize purse, would be his, but first he had to survive the Eliminator.
The Eliminator was a three stage race that saw athletes eliminated in each stage with race tactics playing as much a part as pure speed. Dual Olympic Champion Alistair Brownlee was a pre-race casualty withdrawing from Eliminator as a result of illness.
In Eliminator stage one athletes were vying for a top 15 finish position to progress through to stage two. In familiar fashion, Richard Varga was first out of the water before athletes made their first ascent up a wet Mango Tree Corner on the bike leg. Following the afternoon down pour the slippery roads required strong bike handling skills and Ireland’s Ben Shaw hit the deck on the first hairpin turn of the bike course and was forced withdrew from the race. He was the first to be out of the race but it was Cameron Dye who was the first athlete to feel the wrath of Super League Triathlon’s Eliminator format as he finished in 16th place following the stage one run leg and was joined on the sidelines for stage 2 by Josh Amberger, Dmitry Polyanskiy, long course supremo’s Brent McMahon and Terrenzo Bozzone, New Zealand’s Daniel Hoy and Icelandic wildcard Sirgudur Orn Ragnarsson.
Richard Murray raced smartly in stage one remaining well within the front pack but did not push the pace. Mid-run Murray was in in 14th place and visibly seen counting the 13 athletes in front of him at the run turn to ensure he was in the optimal position to finish inside the top 15 in stage 1 without expending any more than he had to.
Stage two saw athletes battling for a top 10 position to progress through to the final stage of Eliminator. In what had been a relatively quiet week, Rio bronze medallist Henri Schoeman came out to play early on the bike leg of stage two and pushed the pace, but it was Ryan Fisher who led out on the run and eyed off a stage 3 berth. A group of ten, including Murray, quickly formed at the front of the race before Norway’s Kristian Bluumenfelt led them across the line to claim his second stage win of the day.