USA’s Taylor Knibb delivered perhaps the most dominating solo bike breakaway witnessed on the World Triathlon Championship Series to win the final event in Edmonton and further enhance her rapidly growing reputation in the sport.
There was also joy for Bermudian Flora Duffy whose third-placed finish was enough to keep her at the top of the series standings and become the first triathlete to win both the Olympics and world title in the same year. Duffy’s record-equalling third world title also moved her level with Australia’s Emma Snowsill, winner in 2003, 2005 and 2006.
Knibb’s runaway victory lifted her to second in the standings with compatriot Taylor Spivey ending a consistent WTCS campaign with third overall.
France’s Leonie Periault finished second in Edmonton, with Katie Zaferes outsprinting Spivey for fourth, and Sophie Coldwell the best placed of the British triathletes in sixth.
With neither of the Tokyo Olympic medallists Georgia Tayor-Brown or Jess Learmonth making the trip, Vicky Holland ran through for ninth, Non Stanford finished 11th, Sian Rainsley 14th and Beth Potter 18th.
After the final round of the five-race series, Coldwell was fifth and Stanford ninth – commendable performances particularly considering that neither had the opportunity to race in the Olympics, so had to rely on all four WTCS results counting.
In Alberta, Knibb again showed her liking for the course where she became the youngest triathlete to step on to a World Series podium in 2017, when aged 19 she finished runner-up to Duffy.
The former junior and under-23 world champion has been in the thick of racing since May when victory in Yokohama clinched an automatic Olympic spot, where she finished 16th in the individual event in the Tokyo and won silver in the mixed team relay.
Knibb backed that up with second place in her hometown race Ironman 70.3 Boulder before second, again to Duffy, in the new style World Triathlon Championship Series Montreal elimination race last weekend.
Yet there was no sign of fatigue as the 23-year-old blew the race apart, leading out of the water and powering up the first hill to open a 35sec lead over the chasers by the end of the first 5km lap of eight on the bike leg.
Coldwell was the best-placed Brit after the two-lap, 1,500m swim in Hawrelak Park lake, and was the only GB triathlete to make a strong front pack that also included Leeds WTCS winner Maya Kingma.
Knibb left them trailing in her wake, piling on the pressure lap-by-lap to reach T2 with a huge 2min 45sec advantage and from there the result never looked in doubt.
“I was gaining time each lap,” Knibb said. “That was motivating, and then I just ran to the best of my ability to see what happened.”
Duffy was glowing in her praise for the victor. “The new blood is here, and they are on fire. Everyone says they’re the future, but they’ve arrived. After the swim, I had some ground to catch up, and I had to get there before Taylor Knibb got to the front, because she’s so strong. Just as I was getting close she attacked – and she was gone. It was such a great performance by her today.”