Non Stanford (GBR) stole the show under the hot Madrid sun with a blistering performance at the ITU World Championship Series on Saturday to claim her first WTS title.
After a solid swim saw her exit the water just outside the top ten, Stanford made her way through the field on the 40km bike and then never looked back in the 10km run as she hammered further and further ahead. She finished in two hours, four minutes and 39 seconds.
“The plan was to go off really hard in the run which I did,” Non said. “And I’m not going to lie, in the second lap of the run I thought ‘oh no, I’ve gone off far too hard’. But I managed to hold it together and I could see the gap increasing which gives you confidence and I managed to hold on. I’m not sure how but I’m absolutely pooped now.”
Anne Haug (GER) completed a remarkable comeback after a slow swim to finish second in 2:05:05 and Jodie Stimpson (GBR) made it two podium places for Great Britain to claim bronze in a time of 2:05:14.
In the 1.5km swim, an initial breakaway group of three soon became five in what proved to be a fast time, with Carolina Routier (ESP) exiting the water in the lead in 18:56. Alongside Routier were Pamela Oliveira (BRA), Sarah Groff (USA), Alice Betto (ITA) and Nicky Samuels (NZL). It was an impressive swim from Samuels, knowing that her strength on the bike was yet to come.
Indeed it was Samuels who took the initiative at the start of the 40km bike ride, overtaking Groff for the lead halfway through the eight-lap ride. The pair tackled the tough, hilly course together in a small breakaway until the final lap when the chase group bridged up.
However, the most impressive bike ride was not from the front but from the back, where Haug had exited the water in last place in 20:35. The German finished fourth at the Madrid event last year and started closing down the field as soon as she got on her favoured section of the race.
By the halfway stage she had reached the main chase group and then started to reel in the leaders as the laps ticked by. Stanford was also nicely placed as the bike entered its closing stages, knowing her strong running ability would give her a chance of a podium finish.
The chasing pack caught up with Samuels and Groff on lap 6 to set up the possibility of a thrilling 10km run and as the field entered transition after the bike,the first ten places were separated by just five seconds. It was Stanford who started to break away on the run, building up a significant lead with three laps to go. But as Haug is apt to do, the German ran her training partner Stimpson down on the final lap for silver.
Stimpson put in a mature performance, keeping herself in the top ten throughout the race before pushing on in the run to reach the final podium position. Stimpson also held off a super finish from Gwen Jorgensen (USA).
Jorgensen is the highest ranked woman in this season’s series, but may reflect on a swim and bike ride that ultimately cost her a place on the podium. Despite just missing out of the medals, Jorgensen remains top of the rankings.
Canada’s Paula Findlay, had a strong bike ride with Anne Haug to to set the pace during the ride. She chose not to complete the run.
“Happy to put in a solid ride at Madrid WTS today. Not quite ready to run but it’s a long road back, one step at a time,” said Findlay on Facebook.