Gwen Jorgensen has a habit of making the world’s best triathletes look like they run in treacle and there would be little respite for her rivals as she blitzed through the field on the way to a first world title.
The 28-year-old from Wisconsin was 65 seconds adrift as she dismounted the bike to start the final 10km run, but it proved a negligible deficit as she closed down every one of the 18 women ahead by the time they started the final 2.5km lap and strolled to a 16-second victory in the Canadian sunshine.
Jorgensen only needed to finish 16th to make sure of the overall crown in the eight-race series, but delivered in imposing style with a 33:24 run split and unprecedented fifth World Series win of the season (and eighth in total), marking her out as one of the most fleet-footed female performers ever to grace the sport.
A latecomer to triathlon, the American only burst through at elite level in the London Olympic test event in 2011, where she finished runner-up behind Britain’s Helen Jenkins.
“I knew I needed a top 16 or something to be world champion, but I really wanted to win on this day and it’s been my sole focus all year,” said Jorgensen who has now won her last five World Series races after previous triumphs in Yokohama, London, Chicago and Hamburg. “ But I made the race a little bit difficult for myself. I didn’t have a great swim, on the first lap of the bike I was struggling a lot. And when I entered the run, in those first couple of steps my legs were so heavy but I just had to push it to the end.”
The American’s victory over New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt and Nicky Samuels also made up for 2013 heartbreak when she crashed out on the bike in the Grand Final in London after starting the race as the series leader and favourite. On that occasion it was Non Stanford of Wales who took full advantage, but with Stanford spending the entire season sidelined, there would be no repeat success for the Brits at the 2014 climax.
Jodie Stimpson, who has struggled since Commonwealth Games triumph and saw her title hopes effectively ended in Stockholm last week after a poor swim, suffered again in the water and found herself in the chasing bike pack alongside Jorgensen, before finally running up to 13th, 1:44 behind the winner. It meant the Midlander finished fourth in the World Series behind Jorgensen, USA’s Sarah Groff and Hewitt.
Britain’s other representative, Lucy Hall, delivered her usual emphatic swim performance to emerge from the water with the leaders in 18:42 and held strong on the run to finish 16th. With a top 10 in Stockholm last week it signalled the Lutterworth triathlete is moving forward from her domestique role at London 2012.
A lead pack of 18 formed on the bike after Japan’s Yuka Sato suffered a horrible looking crash on the first lap, but while the gap over the chasers, including Jorgensen, increased to 90 seconds at its peak, it was never enough to seriously warrant a threat to the speedy American’s hopes.
Image credit: Delly Carr/triathlon.org