Duffy settles for silver on race return
Flora Duffy believes she made a “really big step” after winning the silver medal at the 2020 Hamburg Wasser World Triathlon on Saturday.
With the bulk of this season cancelled because of Covid-19, Duffy returned to action after ten months out and finished the sprint-distance race in 54min 25sec, nine seconds behind Georgia Taylor-Brown, of Britain, who won in 54:16.
In the absence of spectators, Germany's Laura Lindemann, who came third in 54:39, missed out on competing in front of her home crowd.
“To miss most of this year because of Covid-19, it has a long time since I feel like I am in my stride and hit a podium,” Duffy, a two-times world champion, said. “I am happy for personal reasons to finish second today, it was a really big step for me. “I've had a good progression on my run.
“The last few months I have been able to be consistent again for the first time in a really long time. I knew I was coming in with pretty good run form. But you know, I am a competitor and every time I line up at a World Championships I want to win so maybe there is a little sting of being that close but it is great progression and I am just so thankful we got to race safely.
“Georgia was phenomenal today and it's fantastic to be back on the blue carpet.”
Duffy was ruled out for eight months last season because of a career-threatening foot injury before making a superb return to competitive action, winning a fifth Xterra world title in Kapalua, Hawaii, in October last year.
She was confident of continuing her strong form and was considered a medal contender at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer before it was postponed because of the novel coronavirus.
“This was a huge race for me, the back half of 2018 and the first part of 2019 were really difficult,” added Duffy, who had splits of 9:09, 26:39 and 16:54.
Duffy emerged from the swim in Hamburg eight seconds behind the lead pack of Jessica Learmonth, of Britain, and Cassandre Beaugrand, of France, and along with reigning world champion Katie Zaferes, of the United States, quickly closed the gap on the front pair during the bike. Almost all of the big names were up front at the start of the 5-kilometre run, with Duffy and Learmonth opening up an important lead over the first 500 metres, with Taylor-Brown close behind.
It was the Brit who made the first move before Duffy pulled away in second and was able to distance herself from the rest of the field as Lindemann and Taylor-Spivey, of the US, faded.
“It just sort of happened”, Taylor-Brown said on her victory.
“I felt really comfortable setting off on the run, I really enjoyed the gravel running, that's like my kind of running.
“I felt really comfortable on the gravel and thought let's just go for it. It feels weird saying that I am the world champion because it's been an unusual year. We're missing a few people as well. I am the world champion but in my eyes, Katie [Zaferes] is still the World Champion next year.”
Home favourite Lindemann added: “It's a home race and home races are always something special to me.
There is always extra pressure because I perform better with more pressure, it suits me. I had really bad transitions, after each transition I had to improve my position. It was a hard race from start to finish.”