Canadian Paula Findlay proved her 2010 form was no fluke when she out sprinted Barbara Riveros Diaz (CHI) to win the first Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship series race of the season 2011 in Sydney.
In a thrilling finish, a pack of six women that had the lead for more than half of the run leg were all in with a chance heading into the final lap. American veteran Laura Bennett had lead the way for most of the time alongside Findlay, Riveros Diaz, Andrea Hewitt (NZL), Carole Peon (FRA) and Tomoko Sakimoto (JPN), but it was the 21-year old Canadian who had the final legs to carry away the first win series title of 2011.
Findlay put the burners on for the final few hundred metres, enough to hold-off Riveros Diaz. The pint-sized Chilean star won last year’s race. Hewitt came in for third, her second consecutive Sydney podium after she claimed silver last year.
The win confirmed Findlay is a bona fide triathlon star, after she won both the London and Kitzbuhel races in her first year on the Dextro Energy Triathlon Series. Findlay now has three titles, to put her just one behind reigning champion Emma Moffatt, who has a total of four race wins to lead the all-time winners list. The scary thing for Findlay’s competitors is, there could only be more to come.
"I find it really helps my confidence because after I have a good race I am even more motivated to go even harder," she said. "I’m excited to go home and do a few more months of training and I think that Madrid will be my next race and I am really looking forward to that."
Findlay said she decided to play it safe in the big packs that dominated for most of the women’s bike. Australian Annabel Luxford tried to pull-away on the deceptively hilly Macquarie Street course, but was pulled-back in and the top contenders hit T2 en masse.
"I just knew I had to chase hard and once I was there, I wasn’t trying to get the prems or anything," Findlay said. "I was just trying to stay safe and stay up and stay within the group. After the run I felt pretty good and those last few laps went really well for me and those girls I was running with were so tough, I just wasn’t expecting at all to win."
"There was so many surges and so many girls that were coming back from behind running on the hills that passed us, so many girls that are going to be factors later in the year and it’s still very early, but I think it just getting faster and faster and definitely very competitive."
The highly-favoured Australian’s in the field, Moffatt and Emma Snowsill, both had off-days. Reigning ITU world champion Moffatt was in the lead-pack until halfway through the run but dropped-off while Snowsill had a tough swim leg and was in the last bunch from the start. Moffatt finished-up in 13th place and Snowsill in 42nd.
Sydney Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series – April 10, 2011
Final Results – Elite Women – Official
1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run
Gold – Paula Findlay (CAN) 2:01:21
Silver – Barbara Riveros Diaz (CHI) 2:01:24:8
Bronze – Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 2:01:29:9
4th – Carole Peon (FRA) 2:01:39:6
5th – Tomoko Sakimoto (JPN) 2:01:40:7
6th – Laura Bennett (USA) 2:01:59:8
7th – Ai Ueda (JPN) 2:02:02:04
8th – Liz Blatchford (GBR) 2:02:32:1
9th – Lisa Norden (SWE) 2:02:36:7
10th – Lauren Campbell (CAN) 2:02:43:8
Image: Delly Carr