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American Gwen Jorgensen continued her unprecedented winning streak in the World Triathlon Series, earning her 15th (and 12th consecutive) WTS victory and becoming the first athlete to achieve a perfect WTS final score to take her second-consecutive world championship title.
The day kicked off with a little bit of drama, as race organizers announced that the start of the women’s elite race would be pushed up four hours in an effort to avoid thunderstorms forecasted to hit Chicago in the early evening. Athletes moved up their prep time, and jumped into the waters of Lake Michigan at 1 p.m. CT to get the action underway.
Jorgensen found herself back in 21st spot at 15 seconds back after the first of two swim laps, but fought back toward the front to come into T1 in 11th spot at just seven seconds back. Her compatriot Katie Zaferes was the leader out of the 1.5K swim at 17:50, with Flora Duffy (BER), Carolina Routier (ESP), Sarah True (USA), Vicky Holland (GBR) and a large chase group following.
That pack of 29 athletes stuck together through the entire 40K, eight-lap bike ride with the main chase group following at about 45 seconds back. There were no major incidents on the bike ride, putting the main competitors onto the run course within a few seconds of each other.
Non Stanford (GBR) and Holland, who both needed podium finishes today to qualify for the Olympics, immediately pushed the pace on the 10K run course. “We train together all the time, we do bike sessions together all the time, and we knew this course inside out from seeing it on maps and we’ve been doing bike-turn practice and we were prepared for this course,” Holland says. “Gwen was also fantastically prepared for this course—you can’t fault her, she’s done everything right. All we could do is come out here and do a good job to put ourselves in a position to qualify.”
Jorgensen was quick to catch on to the front pair, making for an exciting running race between the three. They stuck together for three of the four laps, until Jorgensen decided to take off as they started the bell lap. “She made a really big dig at the start of the last lap and from there on in it was a case of survival for the last two kilometers,” Holland says. “I was really beginning to feel the pain by then and I knew I just had to hold on for that podium because that’s why I came here today.”
Despite feeling “flat” at the beginning of the run, Jorgensen kept her lead to the line and capped her day with a 32:43 run split to keep her streak of consecutive WTS wins alive and take the world championship title in 1:55:36. “It’s pretty nuts that I’ve been able to win on so many different courses this year and feeling different, feeling healthy feeling bad, with different courses and different weathers,” Jorgensen says. “To be be able to get this world championship is amazing—I have so many fans and family and friends here, and I love the course.”
Stanford cruised in for second at 1:56:05, with her teammate Holland rounding out the podium at 1:56:20. Thanks to podium finish at last month’s Rio Test Event as well, both have confirmed their spots on the 2016 British Olympic team.
Further back, the race was on for World Triathlon Series podium spots. New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt had a stellar race, finishing fourth, to propel herself to the silver position. True held on for seventh, giving her the bronze. Zaferes, who came into this race in second place just 300 points behind Jorgensen, struggled to 25th place finish and was pushed down to fifth in the overall rankings.
2015 ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final – Chicago
Chicago, Ill. – Sept. 18, 2015
1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run
1. Gwen Jorgensen (USA) 1:55:36
2. Non Stanford (GBR) 1:56:05
3. Vicky Holland (GBR) 1:56:20
4. Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 1:56:44
5. Rachel Klamer (NED) 1:56:50
6. Jodie Stimpson (GBR) 1:57:08
7. Sarah True (GBR) 1:57:19
8. Ai Ueda (JPN) 1:57:29
9. Aileen Reed (IRL) 1:57:37
10. Juri Ide (JPN) 1:57:39
Final WTS Rankings
1. Gwen Jorgensen (USA) 5200
2. Andrew Hewitt (NZL) 4081
3. Sarah True (USA) 4074
4. Vicky Holland (GBR) 3953
5. Katie Zaferes (USA) 3885