With less than two days to go until the final round of the 2014 World Triathlon Series, Commonwealth gold medallist Jodie Stimpson was in a relaxed frame of mind at the elite pre-race press conference. Sharing the bench with championship leader, Gwen Jorgensen, Stimpson acknowledged that while there was undoubtedly a challenge ahead she remained confident that the Canadian course would play to her strengths.
“I think I’m quite a strong cyclist in the women’s field, and I practise a lot technically, so I couldn’t have been more prepared on that front,” admitted the GB star.
Stimpson starts the race just one week after a poor showing at the Stockholm WTS round, where an uncharacteristically bad swim derailed her race from the off and left her trailing in for 16th place.
“I wasn’t feeling good in the water so I was on the back foot from then. There’s no reason [for it], sometimes you just don’t have your day. I couldn’t get my breath and I couldn’t get my rhythm. I’ve got to take it as a good training session and just hope that this weekend’s better.”
With three of the top Brit girls all out with injury – Helen Jenkins, Non Stanford and Vicky Holland – Stimpson will be relying on swim and bike specialist Lucy Hall to help guide her into T2 at the front.
“It’s going to be a fast swim again and I’ve just got to make sure I’m there on the bike where hopefully there’s a small group and we can get something going. This course is a cyclist’s course, it’s a hard course and there are some dedicated girls out there. If I’m in that first pack then I want to be joined by anyone who’s up for working hard.”
But maybe not Gwen? “ Maybe not Gwen… But I’m not holding my breath!”
Lying third in the championship behind Jorgensen and her compatriot Sara Groff, the only way she can take the world title is if Jorgensen finishes in 18th place or lower. To beat Groff, she just needs to finish ahead of her. So with a Commonwealth gold already in the bag, and with it her A-race completed for this year, what would constitute a good result in Edmonton?
“We [coach Darren Smith] never put a position on a good result. It’s just making sure I perform how I think I should do as I have been in training, and things have been going well in training. If the other girls do a better job than me on race day then fair play, I’ll still be happy with that. If I cross the line and feel like I’ve got everything out of myself that I should have then that’s a good day.
So you wouldn’t be disappointed with third?
“No. Because this was my second goal this year. Obviously I’d prefer to finish second or first, but my main goal for the weekend is just going out there and having a solid race.”
Jorgensen goes into Edmonton with four consecutive WTS wins to her name this season alone. While her destructive run has seen her claw back deficits of up to 75secs at the start of the run in some races, she’s not taking any chances even with the title so tantalisingly close.
“I’ve had some successful races this season, which is phenomenal, but at the same time I know that all my competitors are going to be there giving their A-game on Saturday. And with the Commonwealth Games done, this is going to be their next focus and that it’s going to be a big challenge. I’m just going to do everything I can to have a successful race.”
Catch all the action from the women’s Grand Final race this Saturday, live on the BBC Red Button from 7pm (UK time) and highlights on Sunday, BBC Two, from 1:45pm.
Current elite women’s standings
1 Gwen Jorgensen, USA 3,885
2 Sarah Groff, USA 3,037
3 Jodie Stimpson, GBR 2,982
Image: triathlon.org/Delly Carr