Duffy: crash course was dangerous’
Flora Duffy said the opening ITU World Triathlon Series course in Abu Dhabi was “dangerous” after crashing out during the second lap of the bike stage yesterday.
The two-times defending world champion said that she was “fine” after the incident on a corner that claimed several other riders during slippery conditions in the United Arab Emirates.
The Bermudian was, typically, in the lead when she went out. Maria Czesnik, of Poland, Canadian Joanna Brown and Katie Zaferes, of the United States, also crashed at the same section of the course.
“Tough way to end my race especially as I felt ‘oh so good’,” Duffy said on her Instagram account. “Super slick (and in my opinion dangerous) course. My wheels literally went from under me through a corner. And I was being cautious.
“Body was fine to carry on but bike wasn’t. So disappointed. But at least I could tell the form was there.”
Rachel Klamer was first over the line in 1hr 0min 43sec for the Dutchwoman’s first WTS race win. She finished 14 seconds ahead of Jess Learmonth, of Britain, with Australia’s Natalie van Coeverden third, in 1:01:00, beating American Kirsten Kasper to the bronze in a photo-finish.
However, there was controversy, with eight triathletes not finishing. The course for the age-group races was changed and Klamer herself said that the crashes affected her own strategy.
“I was quite scared on the bike because the last few months I have been training on only straight roads and didn’t do any corners,” she said. “There was a lot of women crashing so I just decided to take it easy, ride hard, but just go easy through the corners.
“I ended up sitting behind a couple crashes, which wasn’t smart so I had to chase one whole lap to get back to the front pack. But I am happy I stayed on my bike.”
Jarrod Shoemaker, the 2009 duathlon world champion from the US, was scathing in his criticism of the ITU on Duffy’s Instagram page.
“ITU does not do enough for athlete safety and this was another example of it,” he wrote. “To race on a car racetrack in the wet in a place it barely rains is not putting athlete safety first.”
Duffy was second out of the water, officially out at the same time as Learmonth in 9:06, with American Summer Cook and Zaferes one and four seconds behind, respectively.
The Bermudian and Learmonth went clear on the bike, before Duffy stretched out for a solo attack and was nine seconds ahead of the Briton after the first cycle lap in 16:39, before crashing. The section would later claim Brown, who was in sixth position, and Zaferes, also in the leading group at the time.
Kasper led a group of four after the bike section in 43:48. Klamer, Learmonth and Van Coevorden were also in the leading pack at the start of the run, virtually ensuring a new name would be added to the WTS winners’ list, which would end up being Klamer’s.
Van Coeverden was the first to drop out of the running, followed by Kasper and finally Learmonth as Klamer claimed her maiden WTS victory in impressive fashion.
Duffy missed last year’s season-opening race in Abu Dhabi with a hip injury. However, that did not stop her winning her second consecutive world title, so there is still all to play for.
The 30-year-old’s next destination is Gold Coast, Australia, for the Commonwealth Games before the WTS returns on April 28 and 29 in Bermuda.
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