There was no shortage of surprises in the women’s race at Challenge Miami. The day began with the news that defending Ironman world champion Anne Haug wouldn’t be racing due to a positive COVID test.
Then, just as we saw at the PTO 2020 Championship at Challenge Daytona, a penalty would dramatically change the course of the day.
None of which can take anything away from the dominant performance of Great Britain’s Jodie Stimpson, who put together a masterful performance that saw her stay in the first chase pack for the swim and the bike, then put together a masterful run to take the day.
No surprises in the swim
As was totally expected Lucy Charles-Barclay flew to the front of the women’s race as soon as the horn went. What many North American triathlon fans might not have been expecting, though, was the woman who was on her feet – Spanish Olympic hopeful Sara Perez. The two quickly opened up a big gap on the rest of the women in the field – by the time they finished the 1.6 km swim they were 1:40 up on a group of three that included Canada’s Paula Findlay along with Brits Fenella Langridge and Jodie Stimpson.
Out on the bike it was Perez who would lead the way through the first five laps of the bike, with the Findlay chase group starting to gain some time on the two leaders. Seeming to pull out to allow Charles-Barclay to move to the lead, Perez pulled way to the right at one of the corners. Charles-Barclay passed on the left and received a two-minute penalty – USA Triathlon officials had been adamant before the race that athletes could only pass on the left.
Perez would eventually move back to the front of the race, with Charles-Barclay seemingly content to keep the Spaniard in her sights as she pushed through the bike and prepared for what was going to be a more challenging run thanks to having to spot the rest of the women those two minutes.
As she started the last lap of the bike Perez pulled up for a few seconds with what appeared to be a cramp, allowing Charles-Barclay to move to the front again and lead the way into T2. Perez stayed right behind and ended up first into transition after Charles-Barclay fell at the entry. The pair had a lead of 2:12 on Findlay and 2:18 on Stimpson with Langridge just under three-minutes down.
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Charles-Barclay was still in the penalty box as Findlay and Stimpson ran by, then limped out behind the pair, looking decidingly uncomfortable as she started the run in fourth as opposed to the lead.
It didn’t take long, though, before Charles-Barclay got back to stride and ran up to Stimpson’s shoulder. The two went by Findlay and started the chase of Perez. Eventually Stimpson would pull away from Charles-Barclay and would move ahead of Perez at about the 9 km point, cruising to the lead and never looking back.
Stimpson maintained a solid pace right to the line, eventually taking the day by 1:21 over Charles-Barclay with Jackie Hering running her way to the final spot on the podium, passing Perez in the closing kilometers of the race. Skye Moench took fifth.
Findlay struggled through the run, eventually finishing seventh.
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