Edmonton’s Paula Findlay took top honours this morning at the ITU World Championship Series kickoff race in Sydney.
Findlay kept herself in contention by staying with the lead group during the 40 km bike, and ran comfortably with a lead group of six women on the 10 km run.
With just over 1 km to go, Chile’s Barbara Riveros Diaz, New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt, and Findlay, cranked up the pace and separated themselves from the rest of the pack as they headed towards the finish line.
Findlay then made a critical surge with 300 m to go which allowed her to get away from Riveros Diaz just enough to give her the win (2:01:21), and her third career ITU World Championship Series title. Riveros Diaz settled for second (2:01:23) and Hewitt third (2:01:29).
“I was just trying to stay safe and stay up and stay within the group,” said Findlay, who momentarily forgot that she won at the same place Simon Whitfield did when he won Olympic Gold in 2000. “After the run I felt pretty good and those last few laps went really well for me and those girls I was running with were so tough, I just wasn’t expecting at all to win.”
Vancouver’s Lauren Campbell battled hard on the bike to lead her chase pack back into the main group, then ran tough to finish tenth (2:02:43).
“Back in the game, top 10 to start the WCS season,” said Campbell on twitter. “Tough day though, having to bridge twice and caught up in crash. Sore ankle now, but happy!”
Montreal’s Kathy Tremblay had a great swim, rode with the lead group, but fell off the pace during the run to finish 34th (2:04:43).
For the second consecutive race, Victoria’s Kirsten Sweetland crashed during the bike to bring an abrupt end to her day. Live video showed that she was bleeding from her right elbow but was walking under her own power.
“Unbelievable. Taken out on the bike, nowhere to go,” tweeted Sweetand right after the race. “This is seriously unbelievable. All I can say is I’m really really hungry. Not for food.”
Top 10 Women
1. Paula Findlay (CAN) 2:01:21
2. Barbara Riveros Diaz (CHL) 2:01:23
3. Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 2:01:29
4. Carole Peon (FRA) 2:01:38
5. Tomoko Sakimoto (JPN) 2:01:40
6. Laura Bennett (USA) 2:01:59
7. Ai Ueda (JPN) 2:02:02
8. Liz Blatchford (GBR) 2:02:32
9. Lisa Norden (SWE) 2:02:36
10. Lauren Campbell (CAN) 2:02:43
34. Kathy Tremblay (CAN) 2:04:43