After a dream 2021 season that included World Triathlon Championship Series wins in Yokohama and at the Grand Final in Edmonton (pictured above), a silver-medal performance in the mixed relay at the Tokyo Olympics, the day’s fastest split at the Collins Cup and a bronze-medal at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, Taylor Knibb showed she’s still one to watch with a dominating win at Ironman 70.3 Oceanside today.
The American had only competed in two 70.3 races before today, but those included a runner-up finish at 70.3 Boulder and that third-place finish in St. George. In between those two results the American dominated her match at the Collins Cup, easily topping nine-time world champion Daniela Ryf, who was under the weather that day. Triathlon fans were looking forward to a rematch between the two in Oceanside today, but that never materialized as Knibb dominated the race pretty much from the gun.
Knibb looks to balance her 70.3 racing with another run at the Olympics in 2024, too – which makes it a frightening thought to see how well she might do over the distance once she truly focusses on it.
Knibb was first out of the water, with Brazil’s Pamella Oliveira and Luisa Baptista, fellow American Lauren Brandon and Great Britain’s Holly Lawrence all within six seconds. Canadian Paula Findlay hit T2 1:45 back, while Dominika Jamnicky was 2:12 behind as she headed toward her bike. Pre-race favourite Daniela Ryf’s day didn’t start out well – she was 1:47 back in 10th after the swim, while another woman we anticipated might challenge for the win, Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) was 40 seconds behind after the swim.
Knibb lost a bit of time in transition, starting the bike in fifth spot after pulling on some socks, but it wasn’t long before she was at the front again, driving the pace at the front. By the 20 km point she was 41 seconds up on Baptista with Lawrence 58 seconds back.
By the end of the bike Lawrence had moved her way to second, but she was 2:59 behind Knibb, five seconds up on Baptista, with Findlay hitting T2 3:28 behind, while Ryf came off the bike 5:41 behind.
Out on the run course Knibb’s lead would never be challenged as she cruised through a 1:17:48 split to finish the day in 4:06:32. Baptista would gain a bit of time to take second in 4:08:45, while Lawrence would round out the podium in 4:09:17. Gentle would use the day’s fastest run – 1:16:36 – to run her way to fourth, with American Jackie Hering in fifth. Findlay would finish the day in sixth in 4:15:09. Ryf’s up and down form over the last year continued – after a runner-up finish a few weeks ago at Ironman 70.3 Dubai, she would end up finishing in 10th in 4:22:15.
Women’s top 6
Taylor Knibb 4:06:32
Luisa Baptista 4:08:45
Holly Lawrence 4:09:17
Ashleigh Gentle 4:12:21
Jackie Hering 4:13:46
Paula Findlay 4:15:09