Duffy’s sterling effort pays off
Flora Duffy produced a storming performance to finish second in the World Triathlon Race in Leeds yesterday.
The Bermuda triathlete spent much of the race out in front, but ultimately could not hold off Gwen Jorgensen on the run, despite having a 1min 40sec lead after another impressive display on the bike.
Jorgensen, who is favourite to take gold at the Olympic Games in Rio in August, overcame the largest deficit in WTS history to claim the win in 2hr 0min 33sec.
Duffy was less than a minute behind in 2:01:24, with Vicky Holland, of Britain, third in 2:01:57.
“Starting the run with Gwen [Jorgensen] behind you is always a bit of a terrifying thing, but I am happy with how things went today,” Duffy said. “I had to do a lot of work on the bike. The British girls were not working with me; they had some team tactics.
“They were told they had to ride a certain way, so I was the only one who could put in work. If I had help, perhaps I could have run a little bit better and perhaps we could have had a little more time. But that is racing; that is team tactics.”
Duffy hopes one day to have some help of her own, but said the chance to run wearing the gold number 1, which she wears as the overall WTS leader, made for a “great day”.
Second place earned Duffy 740 world ranking points, taking her tally for the season to 2691, Jodie Stimpson is second on 2513, while Jorgensen stays in third on 2340.
“I am the only Bermudian,” said Duffy. “Some day I hope there is an army of Bermudians to help, but yeah it was a great day for me. I am super happy.
“It is a really cool moment for me to be able to wear the gold number. My parents are here and it is the first time that they have seen me race this year, so to be able to wear the gold number and be leading the race, it feels incredible.”
Duffy and Jorgensen will take their battle to Rio this summer, and the United States athlete said that being pushed all the way in Leeds would ultimately help in her quest for the gold medal.
“It was no surprise to me that some people were going to go for it, especially Flora,” Jorgensen said. “I knew she was going to go for it on the bike and get as much time as she could.
“Rio is the focus for the year, so it is great to come into these races and get exposed a little bit and see where I can improve.”
While Duffy led for most of the race Jessica Learmonth and Lucy Hall took charge early on in the water, with the Bermuda triathlete close behind.
Jorgensen, Sarah True, and Holland were in a pack of nine women further back, and despite a tight transition the front three were able to get out on the bike with a reasonable lead.
The trio charged forward together and created enough distance to hold off the chasers behind them. While another bike trio of Jorgensen, Holland and Emma Moffatt were able to ride together for the first lap, they were eventually caught by 11 more riders, which included Andrea Hewitt and Jodie Stimpson.
Duffy and the two British competitors hammered through the seven-lap bike course with a lead of more than two minutes for five of the seven laps. However, as the three entered the second transition zone, they were working with little more than 90 seconds.
Always the powerful cyclist, Duffy then took her momentum and blasted out of the gate and onto the run as the top contender. For the first two laps she was able to keep Jorgensen at bay.
However, it took Jorgensen only five kilometres to overhaul Duffy to put herself in the lead of a WTS race once again.
Holland and Stimpson were left to battle it out for third, with Holland eventually breaking clear in the final 200 metres.
“I was really disappointed that I could not make that break out of the swim,” Holland said. “I was right there but I had a few troubles getting my wetsuit off, so it ultimately cost me making that breakaway pack. And from there 1:45 is a lot of time to chase down, especially when you have Gwen in that pack as well, she is such a phenomenal runner so I am just happy to be back with the rest today.”