Photo credit: ITU / Delly Carr
Emma Moffatt maintained a slender series lead despite a tough day at the office for Australia’s battle weary contingent in the London leg of the Dextro Energy Triathlon â€“ ITU World Championship Series.
Moffatt’s incredible run of 14 successive podium finishes came to a halt when she finished ninth, struggling to shake off the effects of a fast and furious race in Hamburg just six days ago where she finished second in a photo finish.
Tellingly, all three podium places were filled by athletes that did not race in Hamburg. In what was a major upset, 21-year-old Canadian Paula Findlay, making her world championship series debut, carved out a crucial gap with little more than a kilometre to go on the 10km run to earn a stunning victory in 1h 51m 48s, ahead of Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig and Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins.Â Â Â
Twenty-one-year-old Canadian Paula Findlay (pictured)Â stunned the women’s field at the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship London, running away with the win in 1:51:48. The youngster broke away on the final lap of the run from Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig and Brit Helen Jenkins, who finished second and third, respectively. It was the first-ever World Championship Series start for Findlay, who won her first ITU World Cup race in Monterrey, Mexico this April.
“I absolutely can’t believe this,” Findlay said afterward. “I felt better than ever on the run. I definitely did not expect to win, but I felt so smooth on the first two laps and then just tried to push things on the final lap. This is just crazy-I’m so happy.”Â
Moffatt’s gritty top 10 finish at least earned her enough valuable world rankings’ points to keep her just clear of the consistent Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand, who finished fourth, with the pair on 2539 and 2501 points respectively. She admitted the Hamburg event took more out of her than she had hoped.
â€œI think it (last weekend’s race) probably did take its toll,â€ Moffatt said. â€œI got away with it on the swim and bike, but the girls pushed the pace at the start of the run and I struggled to respond and eventually fell off the back. It’s up to me now to recover from this week and last week, put in a good block of training and see if I can build back up for the last few races and hold my lead.â€Â Â Â
Australia’s other main hopes were never in contention. Emma Snowsill, who is yet to find top gear after a long lay-off with injury, again struggled in the opening 1500-metre swim and withdrew from the race soon after. Erin Densham, the Beijing Olympian who endured heart surgery last year and has since made a measured comeback to feature in her first world championship series start of the year, was an innocent victim in a minor crash during the early stages of the 40km bike leg. She pushed on but eventually withdrew before the run.Â Â Â Â Â
Moffatt and fellow Australian Annabel Luxford were among a group who worked hard on the bike within a lead pack of 24 riders that opened up almost two minutes on the other half of the field in perfect conditions. From there it came down to the run, with Findlay upstaging her three more fancied rivals over the final stages to claim a breakthrough victory by three seconds.
Luxford finished 21st, Felicity Abram 23rd, and Emma Jackson 34th, while Felicity Sheedy-Ryan joined Snowsill and Densham on the sidelines to be one of 15 who did not finish.
â€œYou have to think residual fatigue played a major factor today when you look at the results,â€ said Triathlon Australia’s head coach Shaun Stephens. â€œAll three girls on the podium were fresh athletes, while for us, looking at last week’s race, Moffatt was involved in a sprint finish at the head of the field, Luxford did a tremendous amount of work on the bike and Sheedy-Ryan also had a pretty tough run. They paid the price today.
â€œSnowsill’s swim was a little better than last week, but she’s obviously still not where she’d like to be, so we’ll have to sit down and see where we go from here, while Erin (Densham) will be disappointed because she has put a lot of work into getting back to this level. It was a tough day at the office all round.â€Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Elite Women Results
1. Paula Findlay (CAN) 1:51:48
2. Nicola Spirig (SUI) 1:51:51 +3
3. Helen Jenkins (GBR) 1:51:53 +5
4. Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 1:51:55 +7
5. Laura Bennett (USA) 1:52:34 +46
6. Vicky Holland (GBR) 1:52:39 +51
7. Jodie Swallow (GBR) 1:52:45 +57
8. Kate Roberts (RSA) 1:53:04 +1:16
9. Emma Moffatt (AUS) 1:53:12 +1:24
10. Akane Tsuchihashi (JPN) 1:53:24 +1:36
Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series Rankings (after race 5 of 7)
1. Emma Moffatt (AUS) 2538
2. Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 2501
3. Barbara Riveros Diaz (CHI) 2237
4. Nicola Spirig (SUI) 2173
5. Mariko Adachi (JPN) 2107