Bermuda’s Flora Duffy claimed her fourth consecutive WTS win of 2017 on Saturday to head the overall standings with three races to go. The defending champ won with an even bigger margin of victory than in Hamburg two weeks ago, in a time of 1:00:22, a full minute clear of second place Taylor Knibb of America.
On a warm and sunny day in the Canadian city, 33 women dived into the water for the 750m swim, which was led from the off by Spaniard Carolina Routier. Joined at the first buoy by America’s Summer Cook and Brazil’s Vanessa Lopes, the three of them led the pack out of the water.
But clocking sub-9mins to join the leading trio was the American quartet of Kirsten Kasper, Katie Zaferes, Taylor Spivey and Knibb, as well as Duffy.
Duffy soon made light work of the new 20km bike course, whose new mid-course hill allowed the Bermudan to break away with Knibb, the19-year-old American in only her third-ever WTS race.
On the final lap, Duffy dug in deep and used her considerable race experience to go it alone into T2 alone, with 12 seconds over Knibb. and a further 90 to the chase pack.
The run then was just a formality for Duffy, cruising to her fourth straight win in a row since returning to racing later than planned due to injury.
Former series leader Zaferes, with the fastest run of the day (17:14), completed the podium.
“It was pretty spot on, so thank you, Edmonton”, said Duffy after her victory. “Taylor (Knibb) is riding super strong at the moment, I have been in a breakaway with her before, in Montreal last year, We worked together really well, but she was so strong I thought she might be running really strong too, so I attacked her on the last hill to get a little buffer”.
A furious sprint in the last kilometre gave Spaniard Mario Mola his fourth victory of the 2017 WTS season. Second place went to Australian Jake Birtwhistle (10 secs behind), while South African Richard Murray claimed bronze.
The race started with Slovakia’s Richard Varga leading the 750m swim. Only a couple of seconds behind him, a strong group of swimmers followed, including GB’s Jonny Brownlee back on the start line having had to withdraw from Hamburg due to a magnesium definciency.
In a repeat of Hamburg, the 20km bike leg became a procession as alost the entire field raced together. Continuous lead changes saw them arrive into T2 together, with all to be decided on the run.
But again, it was defending champ Mola who demonstrated that he’s the one to beat this season. Not that he had it easy, as his training mate Jake Birtwhistle flew past him with two laps to go.
It didn’t faze the Spaniard, who kept to his own pace, pushing hard on the last kilometre and retaking the lead ahead of Birtwhistle, who claimed his third silver medal in his WTS career and showcased the best run of the day (14:45). In the battle for bronze, South Africa’s Richard Murray finished third, 8secs ahead of Brownlee.
“I feel fantastic. I did the best I could, I won another sprint distance, so I think I am performing better, doing better on the swim and doing a better performance overall”, said Mola, who has won two sprint races in a row. “I saw Jake moving on the second lap and I thought it was the end of the world, but I could get back to win”, he said.