The race began in very chilly 11c waters, meaning the swim was reduced to one lap (750m). The cold waters had little effect on the pace and Katy Zaferes in particular, who led the pack out onto the bike in search of her first WTS title.
A group of four formed a front group onto the bike made up of Zaferes (USA), Pamella Oliveira (BRA), Flora Duffy (BER) and Brit Helen Jenkins. Oliveira was quickly dropped and left in no mans land, leaving the top three to try to pull away from the large chasing group, which included Olympic champion Nicola Spirig.
The three leaders were chased down with 26km of the bike to go, creating a very large peloton at the front of the race, with Jenkins still going strong and other British entrants Emma Pallant and Vicky Holland also making the front pack.
Remarkably there were no crashes on the tight and technical bike course despite there being 28 women in the front group – Gillian Sanders (RSA) suffered a mechanical but had already fallen behind the pace.
On the run, Olympic champion Spirig took the initiative and shot out into the lead, but most of the front group kept up and all the pre-race contenders were in contention. All three British women stayed at the front with Sarah True (USA) unable to keep up with the pace, surprisingly set by Vicky Holland who led past the 5km point.
10 women formed the front group heading into the final quarter of the run, made up of the three Brits, three Americans (Zaferes, Kirsten Kasper and Chelsea Burns) three Germans (Sophia Saller, Anne Haug and Rebecca Robisch) and Spirig.
In the most hotly-contested women’s WTS race of the season so far, Holland, Saller, Zaferes, Spirig and Jenkins broke away, but it was Holland who really started to stretch out and created a gap with 1km to go. The gap continued to widen, and Holland looked strong as she approached Green Point Stadium for a lap of the athletics track.
It turned out to be a victory lap for Holland, who had time to spare as she sprinted all the way to the line to finish in 1:49:51. Zaferes held on for 2nd coming in on 1:49:53, and Nicola Spirig took 3rd place. Helen Jenkins had an impressive return from injury coming 7th, and Emma Pallant came 10th meaning all three British women made the top 10.
Holland was understandably emotional at the end of the race, and has no doubt created another welcome headache for British Triathlon’s Olympic selectors for Rio 2016:
“I’ve felt good in training recently and thought a podium finish might be possible if I executed everything perfectly, I really didn’t think I’d win it though!
“The game plan definitely wasn’t to take off with 1km to go, I’m sure my coach would’ve been tearing his hair out but it paid off on the day and I’m absolutely thrilled to come home first!”
(Images: Delly Carr / ITU Media)
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