London Olympians Erin Densham and Emma Jackson have produced their best performances of the year to claim top ten finishes in the ITU World Triathlon Series race in Stockholm overnight.
Densham finished a gallant sixth after surging into third place early in the run and admitted it had been three years in the making, while Jackson hung on grimly for ninth in what has been a tough year for her as well.
Densham, the Olympic bronze medalist from 2012, is searching for a place on her third Olympic team in Rio and will be encouraged by her best placing from five WTS outings since her opening round 18th on the Gold Coast in early April.
She was well placed out of the swim which saw 2014 World Under 23 silver medalist Gillian Backhouse the leading Australian and Jackson and Natalie Van Coevorden also well placed.
Van Coevorden missed the chase pack on the 40km bike with Backhouse, also the best placed Australian in the recent Rio Test event, Densham and Jackson all riding well to pull back the leaders and form a group of 15 riders.
When it came to the 10km run, Densham did everything she could to hang on and in a field, that included Olympic champion from Switzerland, Nicola Spirig, who was also in the thick of things in only her second WTS race of the season.
But as the run quickly unfolded it was evident the field even without the unbeaten defending world champion, Gwen Jorgensen, would again have a dominant US presence.
It didn’t take long for the USA’s world ranked number three Sarah True to stamp her authority on the race despite the presence of New Zealand’s Andrew Hewitt who tried desperately to hang on but fell off the pace and was also eventually swallowed up by the USA’s world ranked number two Katie Zaferes.
In the end it would be True with another honest showing leading home a US quinella from Zaferes with Hewitt third, Flora Duffy from Bermuda a fighting fourth from Spirig and Densham.
“This result has been three years coming. It’s a really big step forward for me, so I’m really happy; I’m still missing that conditioning and I just need to get out there and race,” said the Olympic bronze medalist from 2012, Densham.
“I obviously died a bit on the last lap. I’m still missing a bit of that conditioning but I gave it everything and I had nothing left.
“Even though I lost a few places I’m still really happy. The bike was fun, I like it when it’s a bit more technical and it was about riding smart today and watching for attacks and things like after the swim which was really choppy. I had a good first lap and not such a good second lap.”
Jackson, who has battled injury early in the season, fought on strongly to grab her first top 10 finish in what has been a tough year.
“I found the course really tough today, with the climbs and the cobblestones, the swim certainly was choppy, which broke the field up but fortunately I made the front pack, “said Jackson.
“I had an OK run, it wasn’t fantastic but a stepping stone for me, I haven’t had the best of years, so to finish ninth is certainly an improvement for me.
“It has been a challenging year and I hope to finish it off strongly in Edmonton and then the Grand Final in Chicago.
“Edmonton is a sprint format which I certainly enjoy and I would certainly like another top ten.”
Other Australians Gillian Backhouse, who led during the closing stages of the bike, finished 14th and Natalie Van Coevorden 22nd while Charlotte McShane was forced out of the race early on in the bike.