Flora Duffy slips back into her groove to reach World Triathlon Montreal super-sprint finals
Flora Duffy safely secured her place in the finals of the World Triathlon Championship Series Montreal after finishing second in qualification yesterday.
In a new race format, the day consisted of two separate qualification races from which ten athletes secured automatic progression into today’s final series, with a further ten handed the opportunity to seal their place from the subsequent repechage.
In the opening qualifier, Duffy, in her first competitive action since winning gold at the Olympics in Tokyo two weeks ago, exited the water from the 300-metre swim in third place in 3min 55sec, clocked 10:54 on the three-lap 7.2-kilometre cycle and completed the two-lap 2km run in 6:33, for a combined total of 23:26 to finish just eight seconds adrift of race winner Taylor Knibb, of the United States.
Exiting the water in the lead group including Knibb, Katie Zaferes and Non Stanford, the group worked together on the opening lap of the cycle to open a comfortable gap over the chase group.
By the second lap of the bike, Knibb opted to break away solo, opening a 14-second gap over Duffy, Zaferes and Stanford. Heading into the final transition, that advantage had stretched to 23 seconds as Duffy started the run still in second place.
Despite closing that deficit to just ten seconds coming into the final lap of the run, Knibb held on to claim first place, just eight seconds ahead of Duffy, with Zaferes and Stanford crossing the line together four seconds later.
The remaining six automatic qualifying places were secured by Leonie Periault, Nicole Van Der Kaay, Verena Steinhauser, Olivia Mathias, Beatrice Mallozzi and Anabel Knoll.
The second qualifier proved a much closer affair with Lindemann, of Germany, ultimately taking victory in a time of 24:07, pipping compatriot Nina Eim and Italian Angelica Olmo, by just two seconds in a sprint finish.
Behind the top three, four athletes finished a further two seconds behind, with Taylor Spivey, Sophie Coldwell, Ainsley Thorpe and Sian Rainsley all booking their place in the finals.
Narrowly behind, Alice Betto and Erika Ackerlund finished just a second apart, with Emma Jackson, of Australia, securing the final automatic qualifying place.
Having missed out on qualification, 20 athletes returned to the start line later in the day for the repechage, for one final shot at progressing with ten places still available in the final.
Once again it proved a hard-fought battle with Kasper, of the US, prevailing in another sprint finish, taking victory in a time of 24:30, just ahead of Audrey Merle, with Switzerland’s Alissa Konig completing the top three places.
A further second behind, Marlene Gomez-Islinger and Jeanne Lehair crossed the line, with Tereza Zimovjanova and Jaz Hedgeland finishing narrowly behind.
Brazilian Vittoria Lopes claimed eighth place, with Australian compatriots Kira Hedgeland and Natalie Van Coevorden crossing the line together to clinch the two remaining qualification spots.
Those 30 athletes will now return for today’s final round, consisting of three super-sprint races in which the slowest ten finishers will be cut after the first and second races, leaving ten triathletes to ultimately battle for gold.
Sitting second in the overall standings and with series leader Maya Kingma not competing in Montreal, Duffy – who is pursuing a record-equalling third women’s world title – now has a golden opportunity to cut the deficit of 524 points to her main title rival, with 1,000 points on offer to the overall race winner.
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