2015 Discovery ITU World Triathlon Cape Town - Elite Women's Highlights
Under foggy skies and with a slight chill in the air, Great Britain’s Vicky Holland announced her return from injury in style with her first ever World Triathlon Series win. A late surge on the run gave the Brit just what she needed to hold off the USA’s Katie Zaferes and Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig. With silver, Zaferes moved into the top spot on the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings.
“I felt really good in training, but probably just for about the last month or so. It has been a tough run for me, I have had a lot of injury problems since January so I have watched the last WTS races but I was dying to get out there,” said Holland. “This day was an experiment to see how fit I was, we thought I would be quite good for a 5km, but a 10km might be a stretch, but I felt really great. I knew there was not many of us there in the end so I thought I was going to have to dig and I turned around and I was the only one left, so it just seemed to play off in the day for me.”
Zaferes got her day started with a bang as she zoomed to the top of the swim pack and led the 48-deep field around the one-lap 750m swim, which was shortened due to water temperatures. Brazil’s Pamela Oliveira joined the American as one of the first athletes to emerge, with Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins also seemingly un-phased by the chilly temps with a strong position out of the Atlantic.
Together with Flora Duffy (BER), the foursome powered away on the first of eight bike laps in an attempt to create distance between themselves and the powerful Spirig and Sarah True (USA). But with the reigning Olympic gold medallist back racing for the first time in two years, the gap was short lived. At the end of the second lap, the distance was diminished and a 27-person group was created.
Despite holding down a part-time job while also training after graduating from Oxford University, South Africa’s Mari Rabie showed her tenacity as she dominated the front of the bike pack lap after lap alongside Duffy and Spirig.
Meanwhile True, Zaferes, Erin Densham (AUS), Anne Haug (GER) and Junior World Champ Laura Lindemann (GER) stayed tucked safely into the middle of the pack.
Spirig came roaring into transition and hammered out in front with Vendula Frintova (CZE) and Haug in the first half kilometer of the 10km run. Holland picked up the pace and reeled in the ladies, which drug the rest of the chase up making them a half-dozen deep pack on the first of four laps.
Young German Sophia Saller took her spot at the front of the run pack and held onto it for half of the four-lap run, alongside Holland. The group remained together until the fourth lap with Holland gunned ahead in a well-timed break. The final kick was just enough to keep Zaferes and Spirig away, giving her her first WTS gold.
Zaferes followed in next after the Brit, and although she was unable to capture her first WTS win of the season, second place was all she needed to takeover the Threadneedle Rankings.
“It is amazing, I mean I have never done this I have only dreamed of it, so I just want to keep it going,” said Zaferes.
And as far as the former Olympic Champion was concerned, a bronze medal was quite satisfactory as she was just thrilled to be competing again on the WTS circuit.
“I am extremely happy, it is like winning for me because I had a great time here in Cape Town. I had some good days, my family is here and I just ran a marathon last week so it was a lot of fun", Spirig said. “I was surprised how strong I was on the bike, so I just enjoyed it.”
2015 Discovery ITU World Triathlon Cape Town - Elite Men's Highlights
Not even a stumble on the run could stop Alistair Brownlee‘s return to the top of the World Triathlon Series podium in Cape Town on Sunday, as the most successful athlete in series history, he took his total number of titles to 18.
While he tripped early on in the run, Brownlee made his way up to the lead group of Javier Gomez Noya, Richard Murray and Vincent Luis quickly, before blowing them away in the final 1500m. In his first WTS race in 2015 after returning from injury, Brownlee said he wasn’t sure what to expect, but was obviously thrilled with the result.
“Of course you never know, all you can do is train as hard as you can and put everything in that you can on the day. I knew I wasn’t that fit and I didn’t have good legs in that first lap to be honest… The whole thing was tough, but I’m so glad to have the win,” Brownlee said.
In the one-lap 750m swim, shortened due to weather conditions, it was the reigning Cape Town champion who took the race out strongly. Gomez led in the field from the swim, followed by France’s Dorian Coninx and Aurelien Raphael, Russia’s Dmitry Polyanskiy and Spain’s Francesc Godoy. However the shortened distance did nothing to split the field and a lead group of around 45 athletes formed on the first lap.
While the lead group initially pushed out an advantage of 35 seconds in the first two laps, the pace slowed and the chase caught their tail. This meant that for the majority of the remaining six bike laps, the lead group included almost the entire field. While Brownlee, Murray, Alessandro Fabian, Jonas Schomburg and others tried at times to breakaway, none of them stuck as the group seemed content to stick together until the second transition.
In a busy T2, positioning was crucial and it was Brownlee who didn’t miss a beat on his return. Despite his lower than usual start number putting him in the middle of a busy transition, he negotiated it smoothly and hit the run first.
Early on, a lead group of six set themselves apart from the field. Led by Brownlee, Gomez, Murray, Fernando Alarza, Vincent Luis and Pierre Le Corre set a torrid pace. One lap in saw Le Corre dropped, and Murray move to the front in front of a thrilled home crowd.
On the next lap Alarza fell back, leaving it to four, before Brownlee took an uncharacteristic stumble. That saw him lose touch with the leading trio, but not for long, as he propelled himself back into the lead within the lap. With 3km to go, Luis fell off the front, which seemed to leave the fight for the podium to Gomez, Brownlee and Murray.
Up until the 8km mark it was hard to split that trio, but then with about 1.5km to go, it was Brownlee who simply found another level. In just 500metres, he had eeked out a huge gap on Gomez and ran in to comfortably win in a time of 1 hour 39 minutes and 18 seconds. It concluded a successful comeback weekend for British Triathlon, with Vicky Holland taking the women’s Cape Town race on Saturday, in her first race back after injury.
Behind Brownlee, Gomez finished strongly to claim silver and take over the lead in the Columbia Threadneedle rankings.
While already a multiple World Triathlon Series medallist in sprint distance races, Vincent Luis was yet to take one in Olympic distance. That all changed in Cape Town when he staged a final lap comeback, overtaking Murray to capture bronze.