No surprises in Japan as Gwen Jorgensen (USA) continued her unassailable run of form at WTS Yokohama with yet another victory, while Britain’s Non Stanford finished an admirable seventh in her first competitive race for 20 months.
Crossing the line alone with a lead of over one minute, the win for Jorgensen marks her ninth World Triathlon Series victory in a row and catapults her back to the number one position in the Threadneedle Rankings.
Taking the silver medal was Ashleigh Gentle (AUS), who raced perhaps her best performance of her career to earn her first WTS podium. Fellow Australian Emma Moffatt also joined her compatriot on the podium when she took bronze to earn her first medal since the 2013 WTS Grand Final in London.
Jorgensen looked back on a curious race, one in which she was more concerned about staying upright in the wet bike conditions than the actual pace that was being ridden.
“It was wet out there and I knew I had to be careful so rode at the front a little more to stay away from any crashes. I heard something behind me, I wasn’t sure if anyone went down or not but it is better to be safe.
“I came here knowing this is the last 10k before the Rio test event so I really wanted to get a good 10k in and push myself and really go hard.” She added: “The number one goal for this season is to qualify for the Rio Olympic Games, so I need to be top 8 at the Rio test event and first or second American, that is the thought top of mind.”
Stanford seemed to be in with a chance of bronze right until the final stages of the run, despite serving a 15sec penalty for her wetsuit being out of the box in the transition zone.
“I’m happy but not satisfied,” said Non afterwards. “It was great to be back racing and my goal was always to get to the finish line in one piece, but after 20 months away, I can’t complain. If anything, today has given me more motivation to get it right come August 1st.” Fellow Brit Heather Sellars finished 43rd.
Choppy waters greeted the women elites as they started out the Japanese race that marked the halfway point of the 2015 World Triathlon Series. With wetsuits added to the uniform, it was USA’s Summer Cook, Japan’s Yuka Sato and Spain’s Carolina Routier who dominated in the swim. Pushing through the rough surface, the three athletes were the first out of the water and led into the first transition.
While an early lead group of 22 formed early on the bike, which included the likes of Jorgensen, Cook, Sato, Andrea Hewitt (NZL) and Claudia Rivas (MEX), the lead was short lived.
The rain created wet-pavement conditions that saw riders focusing on remaining strategic instead of fast on the nine-lap course since each lap contained over 20 corners that could have caused crashes if the athletes were not careful. The initial leaders soon doubled in size and eventually increased to over 40 athletes as the chasers caught up and closed the gap with two laps to go before the run.
The large bike group caused a lot of congestion in the second transition that saw a pack of runners join together to start out the third discipline. However it did not take long for Jorgensen to bust out her signature move of breaking away from the rest and easing into a solo run that carried her well into the finish line with time to spare.
Gentle also capitalised on a breakaway performance in the second lap of the run that positioned herself into the second-place spot. While the battle for the bronze seemed to be up for grabs for awhile between the likes of Moffat, Non Stanford (GBR), Renee Tomlin (USA) and Hewitt, Moffatt pulled away in the last lap to secure the medal and give Australia two spots on the podium. Full results here.