Flora Duffy enjoys dream Super League Triathlon debut
Just when you figured Flora Duffy’s season could not get any better, it did.
Having already clinched Bermuda’s first Olympic gold medal and the women’s World Triathlon Championship Series for a record-equalling third time this summer, Duffy added a Super League Triathlon title to her phenomenal haul.
The 33-year-old produced another dominant display on the way to victory on her debut in the championship in the series finale in Malibu on Saturday.
“I did my first Super League event here in Malibu and it was a lot of fun to race over a different format,” Duffy told The Royal Gazette. “It was a really nice venue; great sea swim, lots of waves and technical bike and run course.”
The wild-card entry dominated the “Eliminator” format consisting of three rounds of 300-metre swim, 1.2-kilometre bike and 800-metre run with a two-minute break in between en route to victory in the championship at the first attempt.
“I was really happy to win all three rounds,” Duffy added.
“The last round was the one that counted, so it was great that I won that and I just really enjoyed racing over this format.”
Duffy led on the swim in the third and final round of the event but was passed coming out of the water by Britain’s Lucy Charles- Barclay and Jess Learmonth to enter the first transition in third.
However, she quickly regained pole position on the bike after a sluggish transition from Charles-Barclay.
Duffy led the front pack also consisting of Learmonth and compatriot Georgia Taylor-Brown and Katie Zaferes, of the United States, who remained together heading into the second transition for the final time to keep the race wide open.
Taylor-Brown led the early stages of the run with Duffy right on her heels and Zaferes also looking ominous.
Duffy still had a trick up her sleeve having secured one of two short cuts up for grabs during the elimination rounds after being the first to finish the opening bike leg and transition.
Duffy, who competed as part of the Cheetahs franchise in Malibu, opted to roll the dice on the first lap and opened a crucial gap to Taylor-Brown and Zaferes before breaking the tape. Taylor-Brown crossed the line in second and Zafares third.
Taylor-Brown’s second-place finish in Malibu enabled her to pip compatriot Learmonth for the overall championship title by a solitary point.
She went into the finale three points adrift of Learmonth, who had won the first three legs of the series.
“Georgia is such a classy athlete, so talented and really turned it on during that last run,” Duffy said.
Duffy was making her return to competitive action as well as her long-awaited debut in the series having been ruled out of her previous scheduled appearance back in 2018 through injury.
“That was a big change as it was the first time that I raced where I wasn’t somewhere having to stay in a bubble or some form of lock down,” she added.
“It was almost life as normal, which was really, really nice.
“There was a massive crowd and there was also a big age group race. It was really cool just to be in that environment again.
“It was just an amazing race atmosphere with loads of spectators. That was the special thing about the race and I definitely enjoyed that so much more than when we’ve had to be in a bubble and there’s no spectators.
“That was really cool and it was just a fun day overall to go out and race again.”