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Gwen Jorgensen runs to victory at ITU WTS San Diego

Joanna Brown is the top Canadian in 18th.

Gwen Jorgensen ran her way into the history books in San Diego on Friday, becoming the first U.S woman to win an ITU World Triathlon Series race on the back of a scintillating final leg.

After leaving T2 just over a minute down on the leaders of Emma Moffatt and the Sarah Groff, Jorgensen smashed out a 33 minute and 10 second 10km run split to overtake Moffatt with about one kilometre to go. Behind her, Great Britain’s Non Stanford pulled out a last-ditch sprint to claim silver ahead of Moffatt, who had lead for almost all except the final stages of the race.

But the top of the podium belonged to Jorgensen, who added the win to her two World Cup titles and two series medals. Afterwards she said had hardly even considered the magnitude of the gap from T2.

“I never really thought about it, I just focused on my race and just did what I had to do,” Jorgensen said.

“But it’s extra special because it’s our national championships and it’s on home soil and the girls made me work for it. This feels amazing to be on home soil, a national championship and to be the first woman from the USA to win one of these is an amazing feeling and I feel it is really going to increase the sport here in the USA and more people are going to start winning from the USA hopefully.

“It was a great race, I was focused on the processes today, I switched coach I am with Jamie Turner this year and we have really been focusing on my weaknesses and we still have a lot of work to do I just tried to focus on the process and if you concentrate on the process, the outcome will come. I was just focused on myself and doing what I know how to do.”

It was a breakthrough performance for Stanford, the ITU World U23 Champion from Auckland last year.

“I am absolutely delighted, I knew I was in good form coming here and to have such a great swim and a strong run, it is always nice when it is a bit of a sprint finish, it makes it more exciting, I really worked hard for that I was pushing the whole way so yeah, I am pleased,” said Stanford.

“I knew we were closing, I was trying to work it out in my head how quickly, I knew we were chipping down each lap, but I didn’t feel we would quite get to Emma and then all of a sudden she came into sight and I just put my head down and kept pushing and I knew Annie was there and she was putting pressure on me. My coach at home trains us for sprint finishes and I was determined not to let him down and went for it and luckily I came out on top this time.”

Moffatt was equally happy with her performance and place on the podium in a strong performance from the London bronze medalist.

“It was an excellent race, there were four of us in the lead group with three working with me Groffy and Oliveira, we had to work hard riding but we were determined to stay in front of those other girls otherwise it is a running race. I felt pretty good running but my hammies were cramping but unfortunately I couldn’t run as fast as I wanted to without having to stop.

“I felt like her (Jorgensen) legs were like twice as long as mine when she went past I was like ‘this is not fair’ but I knew they might be coming past, Non has been running well and I knew Anne has been in good form so I thought I might be in trouble.”

As promised in the forecast, the weather warmed up under clear blue skies for the second event in the ITU World Triathlon Series in San Diego, with the mercury hitting 29 degrees. However the water remained cool and it was a wetsuit swim to start the day. That didn’t stop a group of four, Moffatt, Groff, Spain’s Carolina Routier and Brazil’s Pamela Oliveira, establishing a significant lead of 30 seconds from the water.

Behind them, two chase groups combined on the second lap of the bike to become one large pack which contained a large number of the favourites, including Jorgensen, Stanford, Germany’s Anne Haug, Great Britain’s Jodie Stimpson, Chile’s Barbara Riveros Diaz, Australia’s Felicity Abram and New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt.

The lead four continued to work brilliantly together, extending their lead to 45 seconds after three laps and threatening to take the race away from the rest of the field. The first signs of a move from the chasers came at the halfway point on the bike, as for the first time they reversed the trend and took 4 seconds out of the leaders with Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle taking the lead with the Netherlands Rachel Klamer.

But it was the seventh lap on the bike that made a difference, the lead ballooned from 37 seconds to 54 seconds. They extended that in the bell lap so that Groff, Moffatt, Oliveira and Routier started the bike 1 minute and 8 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. While Routier and Oliveira dropped shortly after T2, an intriguing battle opened up between Groff and Moffatt. While Groff went to the front in the first lap, by the end of it Moffatt had reeled her back in and taken the lead.

Behind them a group of five, Haug, Stanford, Stimpson, Abram and Jorgensen, started to make up ground. While Abram had to serve a penalty and dropped from the group, the rest caught Groff at the end of the second lap and from there Jorgensen went after Moffatt.

At the start of the final lap the gap between the two was down to 29 seconds, but that didn’t last long as she caught the Olympic bronze medallist and didn’t look back and the home crowd went wild as Jorgensen came down the finish. But behind her the drama wasn’t over as a frenetic sprint for the two other podium places ensued, where Stanford just edged out Moffatt for her first WTS medal. It comes less than six months after Stanford won the 2012 U23 World Championship, marking her as a star to watch in 2012. It was Moffatt’s second major podium in 2013, after also claiming bronze in Mooloolaba.

Anne Haug’s fourth place finished was enough to see her hold onto the overall series lead after two races, while Abram is in second overall.

It was a philosophical World Triathlon Series leader after the race.

“I am very pleased with that, I had my focus on the swim and I did great job on the swim and was safe in the pack and that was my focus for this race, yeah maybe I was a little bit tired for the Auckland race but in the end a solid performance and I am pleased with that,” said Haug.

“I go back to Sedonna (Arizona) for one week and then race St Anthony and then a break in Germany and build up to Hamburg which is my main focus this year. You have to have solid races, you don’t have to win every time for the series, if you stay in the top five I think it is okay.”

Elite Women

1. Gwen Jorgensen USA US 1:59:59
2. Non Stanford GBR GB 2:00:03
3. Emma Moffatt AUS AU 2:00:03
4. Anne Haug GER DE 2:00:06
5. Jodie Stimpson GBR GB 2:00:31
6. Andrea Hewitt NZL NZ 2:01:22
7. Sarah Groff USA US 2:01:27
8. Barbara Riveros Diaz CHI CL 2:01:41
9. Ashleigh Gentle AUS AU 2:01:46
10. Juri Ide JPN JP 2:01:56

Canadian Women

18 Joanna Brown CAN 2:02:39 0:18:07 0:01:19 1:06:58 0:00:26 0:35:50
25 Ellen Pennock CAN 2:03:50 0:17:43 0:01:24 1:07:18 0:00:34 0:36:54
34 Manon Letourneau CAN 2:11:24 0:18:33 0:01:39 1:11:12 0:00:26 0:39:37

Related story: Minor tweak forces Findlay to withdraw.

Young Canucks Solid in World Triathlon Series Debut in San Diego

Joanna Brown places 18th while Ellen Pennock races to 25th

By Triathlon Canada

Two 20-year-old Canadian triathletes, Joanna Brown and Ellen Pennock, celebrated a solid World Triathlon Series Olympic distance debut at the birthplace of the sport in San Diego, California on Friday afternoon.

Brown, of Carp, Ont., was rock solid in 18th spot with a time of 2:02:39, while Calgary’s Ellen Pennock ran to 25th spot at 2:03:50 after crossing the finish line with the world’s best on the historic 1.5-kilometre swim, 40-kilometre bike and 10-kilometre run course.

“I didn’t realize how big this was for me until I got to the start line today. I just completed my first WTS Olympic distance race and it was a lot of fun,” said Brown. “I had little expectations. I just wanted to come here and show my training by having one of the fastest run times.”

Competing in just her second year as a senior athlete, the long-legged Brown has had success in every step of her development. After winning the bronze medal at the Junior World Championships, Brown also celebrated a bronze medal at the Under-23 World Championships one year ago. The rising star in the sport ran to the international podium multiple times during her rookie season as an elite athlete last year while competing in development level Pan American Cup races.

“I noticed the difference here is the transitions are so tight,” said Brown, who has competed in one sprint distance World Triathlon Series race last year. “All of the things we talk about in training – like the start and the transitions – everyone here are experts at it, and there is no margin for error. The competition is tough at Continental Cup races, but the field here is so deep and it is another level.”

Brown is one of a handful of young Canadian women loaded with potential while climbing their way to the elite level in triathlon racing.

“This is a really exciting time for us and I love being at these events with the other Canadians,” said Brown. “It is an individual sport, but we are a team working together and I can feel that I am a part of something bigger. We are all learning and getting faster together and working towards Rio.”

Brown’s teammate, Ellen Pennock, who is another rock star on the run, had a stellar day in the water after posting the fifth fastest time in the 1.5-kilometre swim. Quebec’s Manon Letourneau was the only other Canadian in the field, and placed 34th at 2:11:24.

Gwen Jorgensen made history becoming the first American athlete to win a World Triathlon Series race. Jorgensen clocked a winning time of 1:59:59. Jorgensen edged out Non Stanford, of Great Britain, who posted a time of 2:00:03. Australia’s Emma Moffatt rounded out the podium in third place also at 2:00:03.

Edmonton’s Paula Findlay was set to make her first WTS start of the season in San Diego, but withdrew Friday morning after tweaking a leg injury in training yesterday.

“Paula’s injury is completely unrelated to anything that she has dealt with in the past and is very, very minor,” said Libby Burrell, high-performance director, Triathlon Canada. “Paula is in phenomenal shape -dboth physically and mentally – so this is unfortunate. We could have started her, but there are much bigger events to come this year that we did not want to risk.”

The top men’s triathletes on the globe will race head-to-head on Saturday in San Diego.

Triathlon Canada is the governing body for triathlon in the country. Recognized as an Olympic medal sport since 2000, Triathlon Canada’s mandate is to promote, foster, organize and develop the sport of triathlon, and its related disciplines, in Canada. For more information on Triathlon Canada, please visit us at www.triathloncanada.com