Germany's Anne Haug started her season exactly where she left off in 2012, with another brilliant win in Auckland. After taking out last year's Grand Final event on the same course, Haug waited until the final two kilometres to make her move in the 2013 ITU World Triathlon Series opener, but when she did it was decisive.
Pulling away from the Netherlands Maaike Caelers, who recorded her third series podium with a strong silver, Haug was dominant in the final stages to record her third consecutive ITU win after also winning the opening World Cup of the season in Mooloolaba. Australia's Felicity Abram took bronze. It was her second podium in 2013 after taking out the Oceania Championships.
Earlier in the day it had seemed like Haug might be in trouble but she pulled our her now trademark bike leg to put any doubts to rest. Japan's Yuka Sato was first out of the swim in New Zealand's largest city, followed by Nicky Samuels (NZL) and Aileen Reid (IRL), with a group of about 20 forming together in the first lap. Haug was 45 seconds down, alongside Barbara Riveros Diaz (CHI), Gwen Jorgensen (USA), and Samantha Warriner (NZL).
But the new German star's incredible ability to make up time on the bike again helped her out of a tricky point, as within the first 5km loop she had made up 30-seconds. In the second lap she joined the leaders and went straight to the front.
New Zealand team mates Nicky Samuels and Kate McIlroy spearheaded the charge at the front of the group in the early laps to try and sap some energy from the legs of the others and it worked as several riders dropped after the first few laps.
However the main chase group worked hard to ensure the gap didn't increase dramatically, with 41-year-old mother Warriner (NZL) driving the chase group in the final stages of the bike to reduce the deficit.
But s the lead group of 13 headed back to transition it looked like the medallist would come from it. Anja Knapp (GER) was first to exit with Haug, Samuels, Abram, Caelers, Sato and Jessica Harrison (FRA) close behind.
But it wasn't long before the eventual first four place-getters pulled away. Abram, McIlroy, Caelers and Haug then continued to extend their lead, and while at times McIlroy and Abram went to the front and tried to push away, they didn't get far. With just under two kilometres to go, Haug decided to make her move and didn't look back.
It was a tough day out at Auckland for others, with six DNFS including Jorgensen, Emma Jackson (AUS) and Jodie Stimpson (GBR).
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Image: Delly Carr/ITU