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Dame Flora Duffy happy with Yokohama effort

Dame Flora Duffy is more than satisfied with her day’s work in the first race of the year in the World Triathlon Championship Series despite having to settle for minor honours in Yokohama, Japan.

Pedal to the metal: Flora Duffy takes her turn to drive the pace in the cycle at the World Triathlon Championship Series Yokohama on Saturday. A substandard transition then left her with too much to do before claiming third (Photograph by Tommy Zaferes/World Triathlon)

The world and Olympic champion paid the price on Saturday for a “terrible” transition out of the cycle, the seven seconds lost there to ultimate winner Georgia Taylor-Brown, of Britain, having a significant effect on tactics on the ten-kilometre run.

Duffy, with more than 50 metres to make up on the leaders, was forced to push the pace far sooner than she would have liked, which had the effect of not having enough left to challenge the Olympic silver medal-winner or race runner-up Leonie Periault, of France, when the top two upped the ante on the final lap of four.

The Bermudian, who was the second-eldest triathlete in the 45-strong field at age 34, showed her championship pedigree by outkicking 21-year-old Frenchwoman Emma Lombardi to claim a clear third in 1hr 51min 55sec — a further consolation being that she moved up one place to second in the Maurice Lacroix WTCS season rankings.

Taylor-Brown crossed the line first in 1:51:44 with Periault second in 1:51:50.

Largely because of the effects of the global pandemic, Saturday’s event in Japan was the third of the 2022 season, after the races in Hamburg, Germany, last September and in Abu Dhabi in November.

Nonetheless, a torrentially wet weekend in Yokohama, which required the 40km cycle course to be altered for safety reasons, had a “clearing the cobwebs” feel about it.

“We’re here in May, which is usually a late start, but it feels like it’s come around really quickly,” said Duffy, who was victorious in the sprint race in Abu Dhabi.

“I'm happy with my race today. I definitely have a lot to work on, but I knew I was coming into this and was really going to have to push if I wanted to have a good result. I’m happy with third. It's good for the series and it’s great to be back racing.”

Duffy’s mental recall of many successes in Japan, significantly last summer at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, drove her to get the best possible finish when first Periault and then Taylor-Brown sped off into the distance.

“I’ve got lots of fond memories racing here, so it was cool to race on the wet streets of Yokohama,” she said. “I had a terrible T2 [transition from cycle to run] — I should have those pretty dialled — and so I really had to push that first lap to bridge up to the two French girls and Georgia.

“They're running super strong and it’s great to see them up there. The three of them are quite young and it’s exciting.”

With Germany’s Laura Lindemann failing to finish the race after crashing on a slippery cylce course — the promising Cassandre Beaugrand, of France, was the other high-profile casualty — Taylor-Brown has moved to the top of the season’s rankings.

The next race in the series will be at Leeds, England, on June 11.

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Published May 16, 2022 at 7:46 am (Updated May 16, 2022 at 7:46 am)

Dame Flora Duffy happy with Yokohama effort

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