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Dame Flora Duffy seventh at WTCS Leeds

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Dame Flora Duffy on the run in the WTCS Leeds (Photograph by Ben Lumley/World Triathlon)

Dame Flora Duffy put in a brave performance so soon after recovering from Covid-19 infection to finish seventh at the AJ Bell WTCS Leeds in England on Saturday.

The world and Olympic champion had her preparation for the fourth event of the World Triathlon Championship Series disrupted by the virus but the casual observer would have never known by the way she set off over the sprint distance of 750-metre swim, 20-kilometre bike and 5km run.

Duffy was second out of the water behind ultimate winner Cassandre Beaugrand, of France, in 9min 11sec.

The Frenchwoman initially had clear water in front of her while swimming in a separate arrowhead, with Duffy leading her pack to the left.

Once they converged at the first buoy, Beaugrand was first with Duffy turning in fifth. That gap was closed considerably by the time they exited the water and the pair had a decent lead on the chasing pack heading into the first transition and on to the bike course.

Dame Flora Duffy in the first transition in the WTCS Leeds (Photograph by Ben Lumley/World Triathlon)

Beaugrand incurred a ten-second penalty for getting on to her bike prematurely, which she admirably overcame thanks to a stupendous run. But first she was shunted back on the bike after Duffy took the tactical decision to drop her from a lead pack of four that included American Taylor Spivey and Sophie Coldwell, of Britain.

With the consensus being that Beaugrand possessed the superior run and was not one to be trading blows with over five kilometres, it appeared a shrewd decision.

The unintended consequence, though, was Duffy may have taken too much out of herself in helping to push the pace, and then significantly dropped off Coldwell and Spivey halfway through the second of five laps on a difficult bike course.

Two laps later, Duffy was back in the chasing pack, which included Beaugrand and series leader Georgia Taylor-Brown. But with those two at the head of affairs with a view to chasing down Coldwell and Spivey, Duffy never really threatened a podium finish.

The front two paid for their exertions on a bike course when surrendering almost 30 seconds on the first lap of the run, as Beaugrand made stealthy progress. The only uncertainty after she first passed Spivey and then Coldwell by the midpoint of the second lap was whether she could open enough of a lead for the penalty to be made redundant.

A packed crowd roared on the British pair, with Taylor-Brown passing Spivey to join compatriot Coldwell, as the announcer made everyone aware of the impending drama over the loudspeaker. But Beaugrand’s graceful strides increased on the downhill section before the finish, with Taylor-Brown well in the distance as she was held in the penalty box counting down the longest ten seconds of her life.

Photograph by Ben Lumley/World Triathlon

Once released, the 25-year-old sprinted excitedly to the finish and still had nine seconds to play with, such was her dominance.

Beaugrand’s official finishing time was 59:03, the result moving her into the top ten of the series rankings and providing a sensational bounce-back after crashing out on the cycle in Yokohama a few weeks ago.

Taylor-Brown, with second place in 59:12, increased her series lead over Duffy to 293 points — 2,619 to 2,326.

Coldwell completed the podium in 59:15, much to the approval of a supportive home crowd.

Duffy, who ran in the company of former series leader Laura Lindemann, the German who was another that crashed out in Japan, crossed the line in 59:44 and can now look ahead to the Groupe Copley WTCS Montreal eliminator on June 25 with the prospect of a full preparation.


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Published June 13, 2022 at 7:41 am (Updated June 13, 2022 at 7:41 am)

Dame Flora Duffy seventh at WTCS Leeds

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