Hamburg did not prove a happy hunting ground for Australia’s Elite women at World Triathlon Series sprint race today although Queenslander Gillian Backhouse had plenty to smile about.
On a day that saw the USA’s Gwen Jorgensen storm to an unprecedented 11th consecutive victory it was Backhouse, who produced the best performance of the day for the Australians.
The U23 World Champion silver medalist positioned herself in the front group from the outset and led the charge back into transition at the final turnover.
Under the guidance of QAS head coach Stephen Moss, Backhouse continues to improve one the bike and run but the leg speed of the front girls was too much today. Backhouse crossed the line in 12th place just 1minute and 14second behind the unbeaten Jorgensen.
Backhouse was thrilIed with her performance today, knowing her limitations she raced her own race.
“I am over the moon and really surprised!” Backhouse said.
“I knew I was racing well but to come first Aussie – is wow. Ashleigh Gentle in particular – the last time she raced a WTS she was on the podium, so I know there is definitely some great competition there.
“It’s really good to have today’s race under the belt with Rio coming up in two weeks time.”
Gold Coaster Gentle was the next best placed Aussie in 14th after missing the lead group out of the swim and working hard in the chase group on the bike and with Kirsten Sweetland (CAN), the silver medalist from Yokohama fought back well on the backend of the run.
“I felt pretty flat in the swim, but it was also pretty rough out there,” Gentle said.
“The first 2.5km on the run I felt shocking! Everyone was passing me. It wasn’t until the second lap when I started to feel a little more normal and tried to really pick it up and finish strong. But it’s not really good enough when you started so badly.”
Charlotte McShane, the former Under 23 World Champion and training partner of Jorgensen was 18th, just in front of London Olympian Emma Jackson still making her way back to top form after being sidelined for much of the 2015 season.
Previously Australia has enjoyed great success on the most popular and biggest race in the series. Jackson, twice a silver medalist here was not to be today.
Over the sprint distance format there is simply no room for error, a not so great swim leg from the Olympic bronze medalist Erin Densham saw her finish in 45th place.
A stomach bug got the better of Natalie Van Coevorden today, withdrawing during the bike leg.
“No energy at all, tried to give it a crack but the body said no,” said Coevorden.
For the first time Jorgensen was pushed all the way to the line by Great Britain’s Vicky Holland, only snaring victory on the blue carpet.
Non Stanford rounded out a successful day for the Brits grabbing the final podium place.
Jorgensen holds an unassailable lead for the World Champion title going into the final rounds and will take a lot of confidence going into the Rio test event in two weeks time to secure her first Olympic birth.
“A lot was going through my head at the end, Vicky really pushed me. I could feel her right there on my shoulder, so I knew it was going to be a fight until the end,” said Jorgensen.
1. Gwen Jorgensen (USA) 57:08
2. Vicky Holland (GBR) 57:13
3. Non Stanford (GBR) 57:24
4. Sarah True (USA) 57:25
5. Rachel Klamer (NED) 57:38
6. Katie Zaferes (USA) 57:38
7. Laura Lindemann (GER) 57:48
8. Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 57:52
9. Annamarie Mazzetti (ITA) 58:00
10. Rebecca Robisch (GER) 58:11
12th Gillian Backhouse (AUS) 58:22
14th Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) 58:31
18th Charlotte McShane (AUS) 58:41
19th Emma Jackson (AUS) 58:43
45th Erin Densham (AUS) 1:00:15