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Duffy to ‘double up’ on the Gold Coast

Up for the challenge: Duffy wants to compete in the mountain bike at the Commonwealth Games next April

Flora Duffy is hoping to “double up” at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, by competing in the mountain bike as well as the triathlon.

Considering she is regarded as one of the top cyclists in women’s triathlon, the mountain bike could be a natural crossover for Duffy, a three-times Xterra world champion — an off-road event that includes mountain biking.

Although Duffy’s priority this season will be defending her ITU World Triathlon Series title, the 29-year-old has included the Sea Otter Mountain Bike Cross Country in Monterey, California, in April in her race schedule.

The four-day festival attracts about 10,000 amateur and professional athletes competing in road and mountain bike races in the traditional American cycling season opener.

Duffy’s intention to compete in the mountain bike at the Commonwealth Games next April also explains her decision to enter the Ashburton Investments National Mountain Bike Series in Grabouw, South Africa, at the weekend.

She finished ninth in the race in a time of 3hr 51min 43 sec, with Annika Langvad, of Denmark — the reigning world champion — winning the elite women’s race in 3:27:19. Robyn De Groot, of South Africa, was second in 3:33:11, with Esther Suss, of Switzerland, third in 33:39:11.

The Gold Coast Games would be Duffy’s third Commonwealth Games, having finished eighth in both Melbourne in 2006 and Glasgow in 2014.

Other than the inclusion of the Sea Otter Mountain Bike Cross Country, Duffy’s schedule holds no major surprises, although she has entered the iconic Escape from Alcatraz triathlon in San Francisco in July.

The unusual competition starts with athletes jumping from a ferry into the ocean off the infamous Alcatraz Island — the home of a federal prison from 1933 to 1963 — before a 1.8 kilometres swim to the mainland, a 0.8km run and a 18-mile bike ride that includes riding across the Golden Gate Bridge and then an eight-mile cross-country run, including a 400 step climb from Baker Beach.

With a tough course and non-drafting bike leg, Escape from Alcatraz should suit Duffy who starts her season at the Xterra South Africa at the end of next month while her first WTS race will in Abu Dhabi in April.

Duffy captured a trio of world titles last season also including the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships.