There’s been no shortage of controversy since World Triathlon declared that WTS Hamburg would serve as this year’s world championship and today even the women’s winner acknowledged that fact.
“It feels weird saying that I am the world champion because it’s been an unusual year,” Great Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown said in her post-race interview. “We’re missing a few people as well. I am the world champion, but in my eyes, Katie (Zaferes) is still the world champion next year.”
That shouldn’t take anything away from Taylor-Brown’s impressive performance today, though. Last year Taylor-Brown and countrywoman Jessica Learmonth were the first two across the line at the Tokyo Test Event, only to be disqualified for trying to tie. The two finished second (Learmonth) and third (Taylor-Brown) at last year’s Grand Final in Lausanne behind Zaferes, and Taylor-Brown took her first WTS title last year in Leeds, too. Suffice it to say that she’s become one of the most consistent women’s performers in ITU racing.
It was Learmonth who led the way out of the water, with France’s Cassandre Beaugrand on her heels. Well in the mix were many of the women we expected to contend for the win – Zaferes (USA) and Bermuda’s Flora Duffy were both about eight seconds back. Learmonth would rip through T1 and make a go at a breakaway with Austria’s Therese Feuersinger, but by the end of the first of the six-laps of the bike course a large group powered by Duffy was close behind.
Taylor-Brown, Learmonth and Duffy did the lion’s share of the work at the front of the bike over the last 10 km, pushing the pace for the group of 18 and setting things up for a 5 km road race for the world title.
Duffy led the way into T2 and was quickly out onto the run course alongside Learmonth, with Taylor-Brown joining the two within a few hundred metres. Zaferes had an uncharacteristically slow transition and would find herself well back in the group starting the run.
About 1 km into the run Taylor-Brown upped the pace and pulled clear of Duffy, who gradually started to move ahead of Learmonth. Taylor-Brown looked remarkably smooth and at ease as she cruised clear and, despite a few looks back over the last few hundred metres, seemed to have the race completely under control. Duffy remained strong throughout the run to take second, while Germany’s Laura Lindemann used a great run to take third, a repeat of the third-place finish she earned at WTS Hamburg three years ago.
While she might have made it look easy, after the race Taylor-Brown said that wasn’t the case.
“I wasn’t confident at all [coming into the race],” she said in her post-race interview.”I got some serious lung-burn at the Super-League Arena Games. I am quite shocked with my performance, actually. I felt really comfortable on the run – I like running on the gravel.”
For 2016 and 2017 world champ Flora Duffy the race was a positive sign after her struggles with injuries for much of the last couple of years.
“This was a huge race for me, the back half of 2018 and the first part of 2019 were really difficult,” she said afterwards. “To miss most of this year because of COVID-19, it has a long time since I feel like I am in my stride and hit a podium. I am happy for personal reasons to finish second today, it was a really big step for me. I’ve had a good progression on my run. The last few months I have been able to be consistent again for the first time in a really long time. I knew I was coming in with pretty good run form. But, you know, I am a competitor and every time I line up at a world championships I want to win, so maybe there is a little sting of being that close. But it is great progression and I am just so thankful we got to race safely. Georgia was phenomenal today and it’s fantastic to be back on the blue carpet.”
American’s Taylor Spivey and Zaferes would round out the top five.
|Place||First||Last||Country||Overall||750m swim||18.9 km bike||5 km run|