Georgia Taylor-Brown was in sublime form as she ran to world triathlon glory in Hamburg.
The 26-year-old Lancastrian followed in the footsteps of Vicky Holland, Non Stanford and Helen Jenkins to become GB’s fourth world triathlon champion of the past decade.
But with the Covid disruption meaning a curtailed one-race World Series, she played down the sprint distance triumph that saw her wrest the title from USA’s Katie Zafares.
“The race doesn’t mean too much to be honest,” she said after a blisteringly fast time of 54:16 in the changed venue of Lake Stadtpark, 10km north of the city.
“It feels weird saying that [I’m world champion] as it’s been an unusual year, and we’re missing a few people here as well. I’m world champion but in my eyes Katie is still the world champ for next year.”
It might not have been the way she’d have wanted to pick up her first world crown, but the success shouldn’t come as any surprise.
Taylor-Brown finished third in the world last year after taking her maiden WTS victory in Leeds, and was first across the line in the Olympic test event before being disqualified for finishing hand-in-hand with Jess Learmonth.
Even this season Taylor-Brown has shown her mettle in finishing runner-up to Holland in the last ITU race in Australia before a global lockdown kicked in.
Two-time world champion Flora Duffy was 9sec behind in second place, with Germany’s Laura Lindemann in third.
USA’s defending champion Katie Zafares recovered from a terrible second transition to finish fifth and early frontrunner Learmonth faded on the run in seventh. Beth Potter was 21stfor GB, and Holland 31st.
“I wasn’t confident to be honest,” Taylor-Brown admitted. “I did the Super League Arena Games and got some serious lung burn there. I didn’t expect much of myself today and was just grateful to be able to race again.
“It’s been good fun and I‘m quite shocked at that performance. I felt really comfortable setting off on the run. I love cross-country and felt comfortable on the gravel.”
Learmonth looked like she might continue the excellent form shown in dominating all three disciplines in winning the Super League Arena Games in Rotterdam a fortnight ago and once again she led out the750m swim.
France’s Cassandra Beaugrand and Austria’s Therese Feuersinger were there for company, but it never looked as if it would be enough bike power to stay clear, particularly after Beaugrand got into a tangle at a corner and briefly went down.
A downpour following the men’s race had made the course more testing for the multiple dead turns, and the front duo were quickly swept up by the chasing pack that included the main contenders of Taylor-Brown, Duffy, Zafares, Lindemann and USA’s Taylor Spivey, Holland’s Rachel Klamer and Norway’s Lotte Miller.
They arrived in T2 knowing they would share the podium places, but once Taylor-Brown made her move early in the run, there was little doubt who would be on the top step.