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Gentle wins the Grand Final and Holland becomes world champion

The women's race in Gold Coast, Australia had it all - teamwork, attacks, speed, drama and triumph

Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) outsprints Vicky Holland (GBR) to win the World Triathlon Series Grand Final.

Britain’s Vicky Holland became the 2018 ITU World Champion early Saturday morning (EST) at the World Triathlon Series (WTS) Grand Final. The Brit sprinted to a second-place finish behind the Australian Ashleigh Gentle.

The world leader heading into the race was Katie Zaferes (USA), but she had only a slim 34-point lead over Holland – so whoever beat the other would win the title. Zaferes finished third, just 30 seconds behind Gentle and Holland.

In her interview afterwards, Holland was at a loss for words. “I can’t believe it,” said Holland. “I thought at one point of the run that it was done because there was quite a big gap there. I can’t believe I brought it back in. This season as a whole has been incredible with three wins, two seconds and now the world title. It is so much more than I thought I would get out of the year!”

The race began in the choppy waters of Mitchell Park, with Britain’s Jessica Learmonth and Holland taking the lead out of the water. Zaferes and fellow American Kirsten Kasper closely followed them.

As the race developed, it was pretty clear it was going to be a country-to-country showdown. On the bike, Taylor Spivey joined her American teammates, and Sophie Coldwell and Jodie Stimpson joined Holland and Learmonth. The USA and GBR combo put in solid efforts on the bike creating a gap to a chase group that included Canada’s Joanna Brown and Australia’s Gentle.

Heading into T2 the groups came together, making for a frantic sprint out of the transition zone. Out onto the 10K run Holland, Gentle and Zaferes broke away from the rest of the field.

Halfway through the run, Gentle and Zaferes upped the tempo leaving Holland five second back. Then, with about 2.5K to go, Holland poured it on, coming back into contention and then passing Zaferes. The American couldn’t respond, and Holland sprinted to a second-place finish, two seconds behind Gentle and the won the world title.

Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown finished eighth, guaranteeing herself the bronze in the final season standings. Zaferes finishes 2nd overall in the final season standings. I gave it my all, I tried new things, and I took a risk that didn’t pay off in the end, but I am proud of myself for trying it and going for the win,” admitted Zaferes. “I am never surprised – the thing about Vicky is that she is a fighter to the end and I was just trying to fight as well. For a while, I felt really good, then not so good, but I tried to keep fighting right to the end and keep coming back till I finished but I couldn’t do it. I took another step in the right direction, so there is always next year.”

ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Standings

  1. Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) 1:52:00
  2. Vicky Holland (GBR) 1:52:02
  3. Katie Zaferes (USA) 1:52:33

Canada’s Joanna Brown didn’t have the legs to keep pace in the 10K and finished 18th.