Joanna Brown continued her breakout year today with her first top-10 finish at a World Triathlon Series event, hanging tough for seventh in the stacked field that competed on the tough Edmonton course. Edmonton’s own Paula Findlay battled to a 15th place finish while Dominika Jamnicky finished 25th.
The race was won by defending world champ Flora Duffy (BER), who followed what has become her winning race strategy – break away with one or two people on the bike, leave them in the dust over the final lap or two, then run to another win. Today’s breakaway partner was American Taylor Knibb, who got to join Duffy on a similar excursion last year at the Montreal World Cup. The two were clear by the end of the first lap and continued to pad their lead until the final lap, where Duffy pulled away from Knibb to come into T2 all alone.
Brown and Findlay were both two of the main drivers of the chase pack, which likely didn’t help them after T2, which saw a big group of 15 hit the run course about 1:22 behind the reigning world champion.
American Katie Zaferes would be the best of that group in the end, taking the bronze medal as Knibb was able to hang on for her first WTS podium finish.
“I knew the bronze medal was coming from the pack that I was in,” Brown said after the race. “The goal was to go for it, but when I hit that first hill on the run, I knew I didn’t feel great.”
Brown might not have felt like she had her running legs, but she was still able to earn that top-10 finish. Findlay, on the other hand, was not surprised with the result considering it’s her first WTS appearance in a year, but had hoped for more.
“Running is just so hard right now,” she said after the race. “I thought I was running better than that, so I’m disappointed. I’m riding well – I had a tough swim, but I caught up on the bike, which was good and got myself in a good position.”
While Findlay had hoped for more, she does realize that the top-15 result is at least a sign that she’s working her way back to the form she’s enjoyed in years past as a multiple WTS winner.
“I couldn’t have done this last year, I don’t think. I come into this race a lot happier and my training is going really well, even though that didn’t completely reflect in the race. Even my attitude before and after an event is so much better – last year I was hiding in the tent crying, so now I know I am on the right path, so that’s a positive thing.”
Mola motors on the run
Spain’s Mario Mola took his fourth straight world cup race in exciting style as he had to pass Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS) on the final lap of the run. The Aussie had miscounted laps and took off halfway through the second lap thinking he was on his way to the finish line, only to realize as he ran down the chute that he had one lap to go. He jumped over the barriers and back on to the course, only to have Mola run him down. Birtwhistle was able to hang on for second though, over South Africa’s Richard Murray, who rounded out the podium.
A big group came out of the water together and would do the majority of the ride together, too. The three Canadians in the field, Matt Sharpe, Tyler Mislawchuk and Alexis Lepage were in that group, but were at the back most of the way. Once into T2 the race turned into a 5 km road race, with Mola scorching to a 14:36 split to take the men’s title.
“It was an interesting race,” Sharpe said after the race, after entering T2 in fourth before finishing 23rd overall. “When you have the top guys in the world on a tough course, it’s definitely a challenge. For me it was a good opportunity to get back into WTS racing after breaking my collar bone and clearly we have some work to do.”
Mislawchuk was in the mix, too, but would struggle on the run, slowing to a walk at one point. He would eventually finish 36th. Lepage can’t seem to buy a break at this point – after crashing during the ITU Mixed Team Relay World Championship a few weeks ago he touched the dismount line and had to serve a 10-second penalty, which dropped him to 31st.
Mislawchuk will compete in Montreal next weekend, but Sharpe will take the weekend off to rest up for a world cup race in Mexico the following weekend.
“We have these standards in place and I have to chase podiums in world cup races,” he said. “So, for me, I’d love to race in Montreal, but the focus has been on sprint-distance racing, especially with the Commonwealth Games, and Mexico is a good chance to race in the heat and race a sprint and hopefully get on the podium as well.”
Top-Five Women and Canadian Results:
- Flora Duffy, BER, 1:00:22; 2. Taylor Knibb, USA, 1:01:22; 3. Katie Zafares, USA, 1:01:51; 4. Summer Cook, USA, 1:02:03; 5. Jolanda Annen, SUI, 1:02:09
- Joanna Brown, Carp, Ont., 1:02:20; 15. Paula Findlay, Edmonton, 1:03:32; 25. Dominika Jamnicky, Guelph, Ont., 1:05:38.
Top-Five Men and Canadian Results:
- Mario Mola, ESP, 54:51; 2. Jacob Birtwhistle, AUS, 55:01; 3. Richard Murray, RSA, 55:06; 4. Jonathan Brownlee, GBR, 55:14; 5. Raphael Montoya, FRA, 55:19
- Matt Sharpe, Victoria, 56:31; 31. Alexis Lepage, Gatineau, Que., 57:50; 36. Tyler Mislawchuk, Oak Bluff, Man., 59:36.
With files from Chris Dornan, Triathlon Canada.