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2011 Top-10 Triathletes Of The Year: The Women

Triathlete.com honors the women who wowed us all season long.

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Triathlete.com honors the women who wowed us all season long. Read through the list below and then head over to today’s Triathlete.com Poll to tell us who you think had the best 2011 season. Also check out our picks for the top-ten male triathletes of 2011.

1. Chrissie Wellington

Everything was going just right for Wellington in the months leading up to the Ironman World Championship. An undefeated streak over four races. A new world record of 8:18:13 set at Challenge Roth in July. Then, just two weeks before the world champs, Wellington suffered a vicious bike crash in Boulder that left her sinewy frame covered in a wicked road rash—and her chances for another victory in Kona in jeopardy. But the 34-year-old Wellington dug deep that day, overcoming a massive deficit on the swim and bike with a 2:52 marathon to earn her fourth Ironman World Championship crown. After the race, the Brit admitted she had torn her pectoral and intercostal muscles in the bike crash, making her 13th overall iron-distance win that much more of an amazing feat.

RELATED – Chrissie In Kona: The Post-Race Interview Series

2. Helen Jenkins

Jenkins’ season was by no means perfect: She crashed hard on the bike at the ITU World Championship Series in Sydney before finishing 33rd, and, until August, had been winless on the ITU circuit since her 2008 world title in Vancouver. But the 27-year-old certainly delivered when it counted, turning in a stunning performance on home turf to win the London ITU race—and seal her position on Great Britain’s Olympic team. Weeks later, she narrowly missed the top spot at the Beijing Grand Final to Kiwi Andrea Hewitt, but her cumulative points were enough to claim the overall ITU world title.

RELATED – 2012 London Olympic Medal Contenders: The Women

3. Melissa Rollison

Rollison entered the 2011 season armed with an impressive résumé as an elite distance runner but as a relative unknown on the tri scene. That all changed in September, when the 28-year-old Aussie claimed the 70.3 World Championship, beating a stacked field featuring the likes of Karin Thürig, Linsey Corbin and Leanda Cave. To prove her win in Vegas was no fluke, Rollison—who also took top 70.3 honors in Muncie, Vineman, and Steelhead prior to the world champs—notched three more wins for the season, most recently taking the Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship title for a perfect 7-for-7 2011 record.

RELATED: Where Did Melissa Rollison Come From?

4. Andrea Hewitt

Andrea Hewitt, 29, of New Zealand had one of the most consistent seasons of any athlete on the ITU circuit. She won the ITU World Championship Grand Final in Beijing, earned the overall silver medal in the ITU’s premier World Championship Series, podiumed at the Sprint Triathlon World Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland, qualified for her second Olympic team, never placed outside the top 11 in any ITU race, and won the final two races of her season, including the World Championship Series race in Yokohama, Japan.

RELATED: Hewitt, Gemmell Take Home Wins At ITU Auckland World Cup

5. Sarah Groff

After a stellar season featuring seven top-13 finishes in ITU World Championship Series (WCS) events, Groff is on target for a potential podium spot at next summer’s Olympic Games. Rebounding from a fractured sacrum, Groff managed to clinch her Olympic berth (alongside fellow American Gwen Jorgensen) at the London WCS event in August, then went on to place seventh at the ITU Elite Sprint world champs in Lausanne, Switzerland, and 10th at the Beijing Grand Final. By season’s end, she had cumulated enough WCS points to wrap up 2011 ranked third in the world.

RELATED: Sarah Groff Looks Forward To 2012 London Olympics

6. Sarah Haskins

One of the most versatile triathletes in the world, Haskins continued to dominate in Olympic-distance racing, winning eight of the 12 races she entered this season. Switching back and forth from draft-legal to non-drafting races proved to be no problem for the 30-year-old American, who started her season being crowned the USA Triathlon Sprint National Champion, then won the overall Race to the Toyota Cup series with non-drafting wins in South Beach, Austin, Minneapolis and Chicago. Haskins closed out her 2011 campaign with her first-ever Pan American Games title, holding off a surging Barbara Riveros of Chile to win by more than two minutes.

RELATED – Pro Q&A: Sarah Haskins Closes Season With Pan Am Win

7. Leanda Cave

2011 was a breakout year for the ever-consistent Cave, who capped her season with her first-ever Ironman victory at Ironman Arizona in November. The Brit’s 8:49:00 finish was 24 minutes faster than her 2010 mark, despite suffering a calf cramp in the swim and a flat on the bike. Prior to Arizona, Cave, 33, competed in 12 other races, topping the podium in all but two, including a gutsy third-place finish at the Ironman World Champs in Kona, a second-place showing at the ITU Long Distance World Champs, and a convincing win at Ironman 70.3 Miami.

RELATED PHOTOS: 2011 Ironman Arizona

8. Mirinda Carfrae

Carfrae makes come-from-behind performances her job, thanks to blistering run-off-the-bike speed. This year, the Aussie placed no worse than third in any of the nine races she entered, highlighted by a pair of half-Ironman wins in Ironman 70.3 California and Eagleman. And although the 30-year-old relinquished her Ironman World Championship title to Chrissie Wellington in October, she did not fail to impress by running her way into second place with a 2:52:09 marathon split—the fastest ever run by a woman on the Kona course.

RELATED: Behind Mirinda Carfrae’s Emotional Second Place Finish

9. Rachel Joyce

British triathlete Rachel Joyce firmly established herself among the world’s best endurance athletes with wins at both May’s Ironman Lanzarote (crossing the line almost 15 minutes ahead of the closest competitor) and November’s ITU Long Distance World Championships (beating out Leanda Cave). Just four weeks before the Long Distance champs, Joyce, 32, turned in a hard-fought fourth-place in Kona in 9:06:57, her best finish since turning pro in 2009.

RELATED PHOTOS: 2011 ITU Long Distance World Championships

10. Lesley Paterson

The Scottish off-road star showed incredible mettle when she overcame both a flat on the bike and a face-plant on the run to win her first XTERRA World Championship in November. Her 43:45 10K trail run split—faster than all but 12 of the pro men—allowed her to make up more than six-and-a-half minutes on her competition and gave her a victory by more than two minutes. Paterson, 31, also took top honors at Ironman 70.3 Mooseman, the OC International Triathlon, the inaugural XTERRA Pacific Champs, and finished fourth at the St. Croix 70.3.

RELATED VIDEO: Lesley’s Braveheart Brick