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Canada’s Paula Findlay wins the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series London. Synopsis and photo gallery.
Women’s race, July 24th 2010
The fifth stop on the ITU World Championship Series took place today in Hyde Park at London’s center and nearly all of the world’s fastest triathletes were here racing for points that will determine this year’s ITU world champion. This race has added importance beyond the WCS classification because it is taking place at the site of the 2012 Olympic Triathlon and a few of the top athletes already have an eye toward that event. American Laura Bennett and GB’s Helen Jenkins pushed the pace throughout the race but neither was able to shake 20 year old Paula Findlay of Canada who sprinted away from the pack for the win.
Emma Snowsill’s swim fitness was the biggest variable heading into the race. She is the defending Olympic Gold medalist and ran nearly 2 minutes faster than anyone else at last week’s ITU WCS Hamburg, but she missed the lead swim pack and was forced her to ride alone so her blazing run was not enough to catch the leaders. She would need to improve her swim today to contend but it was clear half way through the two-lap swim that it was not going to happen for Snowsill today. She exited the water only a few places from last and would drop out of the race during the bike.
Americans Laura Bennett and Sarah Haskins led the field through the swim and ran into T1 at 19:25. The Americans continued to lead the field out of T1 and were joined by 14 other athletes with another 10 just 7 seconds back.
The two groups quickly merged and all the favorites other than Emma Snowsill and Barbara Riveros Diaz were present. There were no serious attacks during the totally flat ride but there was a crash that slowed Erin Densham of Australia and left another athlete injured on the pavement.
Not long before arriving at T2, Helen Jenkins pushed the pace and created a small gap. She led the race into transition in front of the home crowd that went crazy for her all day, but the chase pack was only 7 seconds behind.
Jenkins made it clear that she was racing to win and she again led the field out of T2.
Amongst the group led onto the run by Jenkins was European champion Nicola Spirig of Switzerland, defending ITU world champion Emma Moffatt and Laura Bennett. Barbara Riveros Diaz of Chile was less than a minute behind the leaders and her status atop the ITU’s run rankings made her a threat for the podium.
After the first of 3 laps, Jenkins had whittled the lead group down to 7 athletes and was on pace to run 34 minutes for 10k. The honest pace kept Riveros Diaz at bay and only those who left T2 with the leaders were in contention. Laura Bennett was dropped and, surprisingly, so too was Moffatt, who is considered one of the strongest runners in the sport. Americans Bennett and Sarah Groff were 15 and 20 seconds, respectively, behind the leaders at the end of the first lap.
Part way through lap 2, the lead pack had been reduced to Paula Findlay of Canada, Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand, Jenkins and Spirig. Jenkins did her best to drop the other three but was unable to open a gap. Findlay finally moved to the front with only 800 meters remaining and made the decisive move. Jenkins had already burned her legs attempting to drop the field and was unable to respond. Hewitt and Spirig were also left in her wake as the redhead raised the finishing banner above her head to claim the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU WCS London title. Spirig was next across the line and Jenkins rounded out the podium.
The 20 year old won the Monterrey ITU Triathlon World Cup this April so she is already comfortable in high-pressure races despite her youth. She had modest expectations heading into the race, hoping to place in the top 15, but did much better.
Every race keeps getting better and better for me. I don’t feel any pressure at all, I just feel more confident- Paula Findlay
In the end, the top 8 finishers all posted 8 of the 9 fastest run splits. Perhaps foreshadowing a running race at the London Olympics in two short years.
World Championship Series standings
Despite placing 9th, Emma Moffatt retains her lead in the World Championship Series standings but Andrea Hewitt’s 4th place finish closed the gap considerably. Moffatt leads with 2539 points over Hewitt’s 2501. The final two races in the WCS series–to be held in Kitzbuhel, Austria and Budapest, Hungary–will determine if Moffatt can regain her run fitness and hold off Hewitt, Riveros Diaz and Spirig to win the 2010 ITU world championship.
1. Paula Findlay (CAN) 1:51:48
2. Nicola Spirig (SUI) 1:51:51
3. Helen Jenkins (GBR) 1:51:53
4. Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 1:51:55
5. Laura Bennett (USA) 1:52:34
6. Vicky Holland (GBR) 1:52:39
7. Jodie Swallow (GBR) 1:52:45
8. Kate Roberts (RSA) 1:53:04
9. Emma Moffatt (AUS) 1:53:12
10. Akane Tsuchihashi (JPN) 1:53:24
Aaron Hersh, senior editor of Triathlete magazine, was on hand at the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU WCS London in Hyde Park.