In the final World Triathlon Series race before the Olympics, the Hamburg Wasser World Triathlon offered Rio-bound athletes a final speed tune up with a sprint-distance race. American Katie Zaferes dominated the women’s race from start to finish, while Mario Mola of Spain came out on top in a hotly contested men’s race that included a photo finish for third place.
Read the recaps from triathlon.org below.
Taking on one of the most popular and anticipated World Triathlon Series races of the year, USA’s Katie Zaferes dominated the sprint distance course and claimed her first-career victory at the 2016 Hamburg Wasser World Triathlon.
After leading in all three disciplines and leaving enough gas in her tank to conquer the five-kilometer run, Zaferes grabbed the WTS finish tape for the first time in her career. The gold makes her the 18th woman in WTS history to claim a title.
Zaferes said of her debut victory, “I am so excited! The first part, this beginning of the year was not what I wanted. I was not the Katie that I know I am, and today I just raced like me and I got the reward and it was awesome!”
“I just decided to keep it simple, I had been overthinking stuff at the beginning of the year and today I just was going to go as hard as I can in the swim, bike and run and that is what I did and I believed in myself. This is exactly what I needed just going into Rio, is just to see that I was the same person that I was last year.”
Another woman that made it onto the WTS podium for the first time was Rachel Klamer (NED) who seized the silver medal, while the bronze was awarded to Gwen Jorgensen.
“I am really happy, I can’t describe it. The last couple of years I have made progress and this morning I was talking with Richard (Murray) and I was like ‘one day I want to be on that podium’, thought it probably would not be today, but maybe in a year from now. But when we were racing in the swim, which actually I was most worried about, I felt like I had a good position so just had to keep working on it. And then on the bike, the girls were working together, which was really good and then on the run when I looked back I thought, ‘well today must be that day’.”
With comfortable weather conditions and a venue lined with spectators, the women kicked off the last WTS race before the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August.
With only a sprint distance course ahead, it was Great Britain’s Lucy Hall who dominated the one-lap 750-kilometer swim. However, just a few strokes behind her were seven women who were not going to allow her to get away.
The women who exited the water together immediately worked to create a break on the bike. With the group of eight, which included Hall, Zaferes, Klamer, Carolina Routier (ESP) Charlotte Bonin (ITA), Natalie Van Coevorden (AUS) and Anastasia Abrosimova (RUS), pushed forward and early on starting to edge away with a comfortable lead.
Jorgensen found herself in the first chase group alongside a pack of six women after the swim. Soon over 30 cyclists joined them on the second lap to create a 40-strong chasing pack.
While the large chase group contained threatening names such as Lisa Norden (SWE), Jorgensen, Barbara Riveros (CHI) and Brits Jodie Stimpson and Helen Jenkins, the mass was just too heavy to chip away at the leading women.
Upon entering the second transition zone, seven women had a lead of almost a minute. It was then that Zaferes and Klamer took to the streets and began their quest to the podium.
While the two ran stride for stride on the first lap, Zaferes blasted away on the second lap. She maintained her advantage, choosing not to risk a slower pace down the finish chute for a few celebratory high fives, and claimed her debut WTS title.
With a huge smile on her face, Klamer followed just 11 seconds behind to also historically grab a spot on the podium for the first time.
And while it was Jorgensen who didn’t end up on top in Hamburg, the American was able to claim the bronze medal and earn her 22nd career WTS podium. The medal came after an impressive run split of 15:44, the second fastest 5k split in WTS history after she was down by 55 seconds after T2.
“Obviously I am a little bit gutted with what happened today with my race, but to have Katie cross the line first, it is definitely bittersweet today. It started in the swim, I wasn’t in the front pack of the swim and yeah I just did not have it today. Soy yeah, I am not thrilled but to have Katie come in first, that is just incredible to have her earn her first win and keep it in the USA family,” said Jorgensen.
The men left it all down to the finish chute in a flurry of activity that saw Mario Mola (ESP) return to the top of the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings as he won the Wasser Hamburg World Triathlon. Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS) burst onto the scene with his first World Triathlon Series medal with silver, while Mola’s compatriot Fernando Alarza took home bronze.
Adding to the excitement, Birtwhistle let up ever so slightly in his two final steps thinking he has secured his first World Triathlon Series when Fernando Alarza came flying up his left side. The men crossed so closely together, Technical Officials had to review the photo finish to determine Birthwhistle was indeed the silver medal winner. Although Richard Murray crossed over second, he was later disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Mola said of his victory, “I am very happy with the race, especially since I have had the inconsistencies through the three sports, that is something that I have been working on, sometimes you get the result that you have been aiming for and sometimes you don’t, but today it went very good so I am happy with that.”
Commenting on his close finish, Birtwhistle said, “I thought I did (cross over before Alarza), that is why I did a bit of a first bump at the finish line, but it didn’t take long for me to start second guessing myself, but I guess I was just at the line beforehand. I am really happy with the race today, I planned to come here and have a great race and I was not going to accept anything else. So I am happy to even just make it onto the podium it a pretty good achievement I think.”
The short 750 metre swim left no chance for any real standout performances in the water. Instead, several swimmers exited in a line led by Tommy Zaferes (USA) and Henri Schoeman (RSA).
The close swim meant the first transition was a congested zone. A pack that tallied 30 men headed out for the six-lap course and stuck together for the entirety of the bike. While a few breakaway attempts were seen from the likes of Ben Kanute (USA) and Andreas Schilling (DEN), they couldn’t make anything stick. Entering onto the bell lap, with the rain starting to come down, the men headed towards the second transition zone again as a mass pack.
It was Mola and Murray who pushed ahead of the crowd and stepped out together for the two-lap run. In no time, the training teammates put some space between them and the field as they forged ahead. By the start of the second lap, the two men had earned a lead of 17 seconds and it was looking as if the winner would be determined by a sprint finish.
However, due to putting his swim gear in the wrong box during the first transition, Murray was given a 10-second penalty. Murray served the time right before the finish line, which meant that the road was clear for Mola to step in and take the gold medal.
As Murray left the penalty box, he gestured to the Technical Officials, which was determined unsportsmanlike and led to his eventual disqualification.
Running for third place then was an early group of six men that included Birtwhistle, Alarza, Ryan Bailie (AUS),Joao Pereira (POR), Marten Van Riel (BEL) and Tyler Mislawchuk (CAN).
Heading into the final kilometers of the race, it was Birtwhistle who edged ahead for the bronze. A final push from Alarza however put doubts in the mind of Birtwhistle, who actually crossed the line first. It was a photo finish review that guaranteed the medal for Birtwhistle.
For more details from the 2016 WTS Hamburg Wasser World Triathlon, visit triathlon.org.