Mirroring the London 2012 Olympic Games, the women's race witnessed a spectacular sprint finish. But this time Sweden's Lisa Norden wasn’t denied gold, beating Germany's Anne Haug to claim her second straight victory in the 2012 ITU World Triathlon Series. Rising Dutch star Maaike Caelers grabbed the final spot on the podium.
After a few days of strong winds and choppy waters, the elite women were greeted by glorious conditions with sunshine and very little wind. U.S. Olympian Sarah Groff was in front early but surprisingly Rachel Klamer led the women out of the water and into T1. She was followed closely by Groff and Emma Moffatt.
Three distinct packs formed early in the 40km bike course, including 19 women in the lead pack. They were pursued by a chase pack of nine which included a number of stellar runners including Haug, Barbara Riveros Diaz and Gwen Jorgensen.
The leaders began the bike with a 50-second lead, but the group's reluctance to work on staying away from the chase, coupled with Haug's relentless tenacity on the bike, resulted in a big group of 28 women riding together at the beginning of the fourth lap.
The battle for the podium was ahead of them and early on the flat 10km run course, a group of seven women emerged at the front. Among them were Norden, Haug, Moffatt, Caelers, Gentle, Riveros and Densham.
Gentle and Moffatt both pushed the pace and traded the lead as they passed the midway point of the run while Norden waited for her moment to strike.
Norden and Haug entered the long 240m finish chute together and began a furious sprint to the line. Haug broke away first but Norden quickly caught up, seizing the lead and never relinquishing it as she hit the finish tape first in a time of 1 hour, 59 minutes, and 7 seconds. It was her second title in Yokohama after taking the title in 2009.
"It's the first major event after a couple of races that I did and I am getting into very good shape," said Norden. "Coming to Japan with such a nice atmosphere and getting very well welcomed is so important for me. Maybe it is the sushi that works of my favour."
Image: Delly Carr/ITU