Beaugrand wins women's gold and Yee wins men's gold at Cagliari Triathlon. WORLDTRIATHLON

Frenchwoman Cassandre Beaugrand claimed the gold medal at the Sardinia Triathlon, while Britain's Alex Yee did the same with a narrow victory over Hayden Wilde in the final race of the Olympic qualifying period.

French athlete Cassandre Beaugrand returned to top form on the Italian island of Sardinia on Saturday, finding the decisive pace in the final stretch to beat her last rival Lisa Tertsch (GER) after a colossal finish in the 10km race.

It had been hard to predict as the race came down to the duo of Emma Lombardi (FRA) and Beth Potter (GBR), the defending world champion, who seemed to be in control until the final 500m when Beaugrand made a final push to secure gold.

It was the first Olympic distance gold of the series and it came at the perfect time, two months before Paris 2024. Tertsch took silver and Potter retained bronze.

It was Beaugrand's first victory in a standard distance WTCS. "I kept telling myself 'you can't lose this race, you have to keep fighting' and I did. I haven't ridden much in the last two weeks but I decided to give it a go today, I didn't want to wait until the end so I just pushed and it worked. I didn't want to lose another sprint, so I'm very happy today," explained the French athlete.

"I fought until the end but I'm very happy. I know how people run, I watch them, we all watched each other... it was fun," said Lisa. "I already qualified for the Olympics last year, so this year I'm just preparing for it, but I'm very happy with how the preparations are going," said German Lisa Tertsch after finishing second.

Meanwhile, in the men's race at the same venue, Britain's Alex Yee won the World Triathlon Championship Series in Cagliari after another epic battle with New Zealand's Hayden Wilde.

What looked like a repeat of the 2023 edition ended with the British rider finding an extra gear to cross the line a few metres ahead of the New Zealander, just as he did last year.

It was also an incredible day for Csongor Lehmann (HUN), who finished third to claim his first WTCS podium.

Strong winds and rain had forced a 30-minute delay to the start of the men's race, and as the 60 men lined up on Cagliari's Poetto Beach, it was clear that the non-wetsuit swim would be a challenge, with strong currents and waves making navigation and entry into the water difficult.

The current was too strong for the top swimmers to break away and a large group made it to the beach together, including the French duo of Leo Bergere and Vincent Luis. More importantly, Alex Yee (GBR) and Hayden Wilde (NZL) came out of the water just 15 seconds behind the leaders, with Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) just four seconds behind.

By the time they all reached the second transition, it was clear that the race was going to be another showdown between Yee and Wilde, an exact repeat of last year's race. But with one question mark: could Wilde overtake Yee in the end?

Once they both put on their running shoes, they never looked back. Shoulder to shoulder for 10km, both athletes seemed to enjoy each other's company, watching each other carefully to decide when to make a move.

It was Wilde who made the first move, but Yee responded to catch the Olympic bronze medallist. Behind them, Bergere, Luis, Batista, Schomburg and half a dozen other men tried to position themselves, but the leading duo were simply impossible to catch.

"I hope everybody enjoyed it today. I gave everything I had and so did he and I hope that continues for the rest of the year," said Yee. "We all made little steps here and there. I'm happy to be racing again. My swim today was really positive, even though it was chaotic out there, but I am happy," said Yee, who has won three consecutive races in the capital of the picturesque Italian island.

Wilde took the silver medal, stopping the clock at 29:13, just one second slower than Yee, a time that proved the work put in over the winter was paying off. "It's a great time to race like this. It's not just about how you finish, I'm really happy with my swim today, I came out of the water in the front pack. I'm getting closer and closer. I know what I have to work on. This is great preparation for Paris. I tried to get away on the bike, but (some guys) didn't help much, but I'm happy with how I raced today and I'm really happy to be back on the circuit," said Hayden Wilde after finishing second.

The bronze medal went to Lehmann, a record-breaking result for the Hungarian, who had never been on the WTCS podium before. "It is unbelievable. I've been so close so many times in the last few years and now I'm finally here.