In a scintillating race that saw British athletes lead from start to finish in Cape Town today, Jodie Stimpson had just enough in the tank to pull ahead of her teammate Helen Jenkins in the final metres for her second WTS gold so far this year.
The 51 athletes got underway around 20mins later than planned this afternoon, with officials reducing the swim to a 1-lap 750m dip in Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront after water temperatures refused to budge above 12°C. It was Britain’s Lucy Hall who set the pace in the water (as she would later on in the bike), taking just 8:47mins to cover the distance, followed closely by Spain’s Carolina Routier.
With T1 smoothly negotiated, Hall and her teammates Stimpson, Jenkins and Vicky Holland quickly found themselves part of a lead pack of 12 athletes on the bike leg which also included the USA’s Sarah Groff – but significantly (as it later turned out), no Gwen Jorgensen or Anne Haug.
The lead pack worked furiously to keep up momentum, with Hall in particular taking more than her share of the load at the front, and their advantage over the trailing group kept on growing, from 25secs at the end of lap one to over 1min by the end of lap three and then 2mins by lap five. Jorgensen managed to dodge a crash by her teammate Katie Hursey, but remained around 2mins off the leaders as they entered T2.
Stimpson kicked hard on the opening stages of the run to create a 3secs gap on nearest rival Jenkins, with Groff close behind. Jenkins reeled in her teammate and the two Brits found themselves running together with plenty of lead over Groff, while Jorgensen began picking off the runners ahead of her.
It looked like an impossible job, but the American ran so hard that she eventually caught – and overtook – Groff for third place, with Jenkins and Stimpson tantalisingly close. Stimpson found some last reserves to call on and accelerated her way to the finish line in 1:46:11, taking gold just 7secs ahead of Jenkins and 22secs ahead of Jorgensen.
Stimpson said post-race: “The GB girls were definitely pushing hard on bike, Lucy Hall was pushing so hard on that bike. When Helen passed me it was all about trying to hang on, I had a bit of a stitch, I tried to break her on the last lap but couldn’t so I sat behind and gave it everything I could in the last metres.”
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Stimpson now tops the WTS leaderboard with 1600 points thanks to her win in Auckland, followed by Jenkins with 1425, then Anne Haug with 1282 points, Sarah Groff with 1219 points and Jorgensen with 1024 points.
The men’s elite race will get underway in Cape Town tomorrow at 3pm local time (2pm UK time), with Jonny Brownlee and Javier Gomez among the favourites to podium, and Alistair Brownlee on the sidelines for the second WTS race in a row. You can follow all the action live via our Twitter account @220triathlon.
Finish times – elite women
1st. Jodie Stimpson (GBR) – 1:46:11
2nd. Helen Jenkins (GBR) – 1:46:18
3rd. Gwen Jorgensen (USA) – 1:46:33
4th. Sarah Groff (USA) – 1:47:11
5th. Ainhoa Murua (ESP) – 1:47:54
6th. Anne Haug (GER) – 1:47:59
7th. Kirsten Sweetland (CAN) – 1:48:05
8th. Vicky Holland (GBR) – 1:48:14
9th. Emma Moffatt (AUS) – 1:48:24
10th. Emma Jackson (AUS) – 1:48:31
(Main image: Janos Schmidt)
Did you watch the race today? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!