Amelie Kretz might have been frustrated with Triathlon Canada’s approach to Friday’s Mixed Team Relay competition that will make her journey to the Olympics more of a challenge, but she put that energy to good use today with a sixth-place finish at the World Triathlon Cup Lisbon. Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig took the race in impressive style, setting up another Olympic run where she’ll once again be one to watch.
The huge field of 70 women hit the rough water for what ended up being a challenging 1.5 km swim, and Kretz’s solid day began as she came out of the water in ninth, 10 seconds behind swim leader Summer Rappaport. Kretz’s Canadian teammates found themselves behind after getting through the choppy water, Emy Legault was 33 seconds behind, Dominika Jamnicky was 48 seconds down, with Brittany Warly hitting T2 1:09 back.
Kretz chose not to try and get in with the initial lead group of nine that pulled clear early in the bike, instead waiting for the group of 11 led by Olympic gold (2012) and silver (2016) medalist Spirig. Just passed the halfway point of the ride Spirig powered the group back up to the leaders, creating a lead group of 20 that included Kretz. Jamnicky and Legualt found themselves in the chase group that spent much of the second half of the bike around two minutes behind the lead group.
By the end of the bike the lead group was down to 19 – they would hit the run course 2:34 ahead of the chase group. Ireland’s Carolyn Hayes flew out of T2 to take the lead on the run, followed by Spirig. Kretz was about 13 seconds behind as she started the run, but make a strong move early on to get herself in the group of runners chasing Spirig.
Sprint to the line
Halfway through the run Hayes was still holding the Swiss Olympic star off, with American’s Kirsten Kasper and Summer Rappaport running alongside Kretz in third, fourth and fifth.
On the final lap Spirig made her move, bridging up to Hayes, who gamely hung on as the two duelled for the lead. Behind them Kasper managed to pull clear as Rappaport faded and Kretz suddenly found herself having to hold off Switzerland’s Jolanda Annen and Great Britain’s Vicky Holland.
Spirig would finally surge away from Hayes over the last kilometer of the run to take the win in 1:59:05 with Hayes coming across the line 12 seconds later. Kasper completed the podium in 1:59:39. Annen managed to outsprint Holland for fourth, with Kretz hanging tough for her sixth-place finish.
“It’s great to be back on the top of the podium,” Spirig said after the race. “It’s amazing to win again here. The Olympics will be completely different. These two races (Mixed Team Relay on Friday and today) show that my training is going well and I’m on the right track for the Olympics.”
Jamnicky would end up 32nd (2:05:05) with Legault in 37th in 2:06:25.