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World Triathlon’s top series returned at one of the best venues in the sport, while Ironman split a pair of pro races between Swiss Alps and Spanish Pyrenees. Meanwhile, in Western New York, CLASH debuted a new venue at a very old race track.
Dominant Duffy is really really dominant
It’s extremely hard to win a sprint-distance WTCS race with a 10-second penalty. Like, there is exactly one person who could do it, and she did it on Saturday. That’s why she’s the Olympic champ, as well as the unofficial Queen of Bermuda. Flora Duffy was served with a brief penalty for failing to toss her goggles in her designated box in T1, and it nearly cost her her first win of 2022.
In the end, she managed a last-minute re-pass of Britain’s Beth Potter, which is a remarkable achievement considering they were running 5K—and Potter is the world record holder for that distance on the road.
It goes to show how dominant Duffy can be when she’s close to her “A” game. I don’t think she gets nearly enough credit for her performance in Tokyo last summer. It was one of the most dominant victories of the entire Games; in any sport. It was right up there with anything Ledecky did in the pool or Kipchoge did in the marathon.
For her effort, Potter finished six seconds back to claim second, and now sits third in the world rankings. Duffy has moved her way into second overall, behind the idle Georgia Taylor-Brown of Great Britain. American Taylor Spivey finished fourth on Saturday and sits in the same place in the new rankings, with the also-idle Cassandre Beaugrande in fifth. All five woman have a legitimate shot at this year’s world title, but topping Duffy or Taylor-Brown will require one of them slipping up.
Before we move on to the men, it’s worth noting that 24-year-old Lisa Tertsch of Germany finished third. It’s the first time she’s finished in the top 15 at the WTCS level. That has to feel pretty good.
New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde has now finished first-second-first at the last three WTCS races, making the 24-year-old the favorite to win his first world title when the series wraps up in Abu Dhabi in November. He topped Aussie Matt Hauser by three seconds on Saturday, but neither were the biggest story of the race. That went to third-place finisher Jawad Adelmoula of Morocco—yes, that Morocco.
We had a non-South African-African finish on the podium of the sport’s top series. That’s monumental. Triathlon has been growing rapidly in the Arab world, thanks in large part to World Triathlon’s development initiatives in those countries, but I thought we’d have to wait a bit longer to see an athlete on a WTCS podium.
Adelmoula has been chomping at the bit for some time. The 28-year-old finished eighth in Montreal two weeks ago and won a World Cup last year. Way to go Morocco and Adelmoula.
Same with Daniela
You’ll be shocked to find out Daniela Ryf is still the greatest Ironwoman in Switzerland—and probably the world. The 10-time world champ winning against C-list competition might fall below the fold, but she’s showing that she has the form needed to rival the likes of Anne Haug, Kat Matthews, and Laura Philipp come Kona in October.
Ryf won by more than 25 minutes in Thun, where there was only a pro women’s race, which is a shame because it’s one of the best venues on earth. (I’m aware I said that about the last place.)
A woman named Alexandra Tondeur of Belgium had the honor of finishing one spot behind the GOAT. It’s the fourth time Ryf has won her home country’s Ironman, and she’s going to be coming into Kona firing on all cylinders. She’s my pick to be the first woman losing to Philipp.
Another bucket list race
No one does complex names better than Spaniards, so it’s fitting that one of their best races takes place in the hyphenated town of Vitoria-Gasteiz. It’s famous as the capital of the Basque region, a really great place for food, and its proximity to Pamplona. It’s also a really nice place to ride a bike, and the Basque fans are completely insane. It’s the bucket-list race you didn’t know you needed on your bucket list (along with the last two races you just read about).
Aussie Nick Kastelein won the second race of his career, overtaking countryman Cam Wurf with just two miles left to run. It’s a devastating loss for Wurf, who will have to fall back on the fact that he has a full-time job with the Team Ineos, which is currently leading the Tour de France team standings.
CLASH hits its third racetrack
Keeping with its race-track-themed venues, CLASH debuted at Watkins Glen International Raceway in western New York this weekend, marking its third event. If you found CLASH’s previous two races on NASCAR ovals at Daytona and Miami boring, you should know that there are 11 turns—yes, eleven—at Watkins Glen. And it used to host an F1 race, for all you Drive to Survive fans who got into motorsports a few months ago.
It’s fitting that pro triathlon’s resident NASCAR fan Andrew Starykowicz won the race, which was basically a half-iron with a few miles missing on the bike and run. (1.2-mile swim, 50-mile bike, 10.5-mile run). His five-minute lead to start the run was too much for Jason West, who finished 54 seconds behind for second.
The women’s race was an absolute clinic by Sophie Watts, who won the first major race of her professional career. She managed to swim within 30 seconds of Haley Chura, and then buried the field on the bike to win by more than nine minutes.
And now I’ve spoiled the outcome for all of you who want to watch it on FOX Sports One in two weeks.