Zaferes eyes Duffy’s title
Katie Zaferes has her sights firmly set on breaking Flora Duffy’s run of two straight World Triathlon Series titles after the American extended her lead at the top of the overall standings in Hamburg on Saturday.
Duffy, who missed the previous event in Leeds last month with a foot injury, finished tenth overall — losing for the first time in a race she completed since Montreal last year — at WTS Hamburg, with Zafares, of the United States, third.
The Bermudian had reportedly only started running a couple of days before the weekend. Cassandre Beaugrand, of France, stunned the competition with a dominant run to win the event by 30 seconds.
Beaugrand, 21, won the sprint distance in 58min 6sec, with Laura Lindemann thrilling her home crowd in Germany by picking up silver.
Zaferes just failed to overhaul Lindemann in a sprint finish for second. She rounded out the podium in third after finishing only one second behind the German.
Duffy, who finished in 59:10, remains fourth overall on 2,496 points. Zaferes extended her points tally to 3,493, with Dutchwoman Rachel Klamer — who finished twelfth in Hamburg despite crashing on the bike — moving into second on 2,639. Vicky Holland, of Britain, drops one place to third overall on 2,579 after finishing just 22nd on Saturday.
Zaferes was, understandbly, delighted with a performance that puts her in a commanding position at the top of the overall rankings.
“I am so excited to come away with a podium in this race,” said the 29-year-old, who finished third overall last year behind Duffy and Ashleigh Gentle, of Australia. “When I came out of the water I was a bit further behind than I like to be, so being on the podium is a relief.
“The second group on the bike, the one I was in, was super-motivated to catch the leaders and we did a really good job. When I saw Cassandre go i thought that we could close that gap but then it just seemed to be increasing.
“Winning the series is on my mind now, and I hope third place here is the lowest I come in the rest of the races of the season.”
Duffy, the two-times defending champion and Commonwealth Games gold medal-winner, was in touch with the leaders after the swim and the bike. She was fifth behind Britain’s Jess Learmonth after the first transition and was among a lead group of six — along with Beaugrand, Learmonth, Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown, American Taylor Spivey and Vittoria Lopes, of Brazil — for most of the bike.
However, Duffy failed to make a getaway on the bike after two attempts at going it alone. Her lead group were swallowed up on the last lap of the bike by a big chase group led by Swiss veteran Nicola Spirig, Britain’s Jodie Stimpson and Gentle.
Spirig led a lead group that had swelled to 25 competitors after the bike, but it did not take long before Beaugrand, whose previous WTS best was eighth in Yokohama in May, literally took up the running.
“I am so, so happy, I can’t believe,” Beaugrand said after the race. I had a crash here last year, and to be able to win one year later is just amazing. I have improved a lot on the bike, and I pushed a lot today to be in the front group.”
Lindemann provided another fantastic story of the weekend, powering through on the run to take silver in her home race.
“I am very happy with second place, I didn’t expect it at all after the swim and the bike, because I had a really bad transition,” the 22-year-old said. “But I just ran for my life and I’m very happy with the result. The crowds here are awesome, they really pushed me, and it felt like I was flying on the course.”
There are now only three races left for the rest of the season, with the next one, in Edmonton, only two weeks away before Montreal on August 25 and the Grand Final on the Gold Coast, Australia — where Duffy won Commonwealth gold in April — on September 15.
• Erica Hawley finished twelfth in the first semi-final of the Tiszaujvarops ITU Triathlon World Cup, missing out on the final by two places.
The Bermudian finished the sprint-distance race in 1hr 1min 50sec — including a personal best of 17:41 in the run.
“It was one of the most brutal swims I’ve ever had and many people were given penalties for swim behaviour,” Hawley said. “I felt amazing on the run. I am really proud of the results this past weekend and there were many positives to take away from racing this kind of format.”