Anne Haug gave her home crowd something to cheer about as she powered her way to victory in a thrilling World Triathlon Series race in Hamburg. With the win, Haug became the first woman since 2008 to win in Hamburg, with it retaining her top spot on the WTS leaderboard.
The WTS leader exited the swim 40 seconds behind the lead but worked her way through the field on the 20km bike and then broke away from the pack in the last kilometre of the 5km run to maintain her place at the top of the rankings. Haug finished in 57 minutes and 21 seconds, ahead of second-place Non Stanford (GBR) in 57:35, who was one second ahead of compatriot Jodie Stimpson in third.
It was a star-studded field in Hamburg, with all four women to have won a WTS event in 2013 - Haug, Stanford, Stimpson and Gwen Jorgensen (USA) - all taking part.
The 20km bike saw two 180-degree bends on each of the five laps and riders exercised caution through the section which in turn caused a huge lead group of around 35 athletes. It was that slow pace, as well as tactical support from compatriot Svenja Bazlen (GER), which allowed Haug to claw her way back into contention.
Haug was first out of a congested transition, with Anja Knapp, Stimpson and Stanford the early leaders in the 5km run.
Stimpson, Stanford and Haug were slightly ahead as the race entered the second and final lap, but they were suddenly joined by Andrea Hewitt (NZL) and then Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) who picked up the pace and bridged up to ensure a thrilling finish.
It was still too close to call as the race entered the final kilometre, but it was Haug who made the move with 800m to go. It looked like it may have been too early to start a sprint to the finish but Haug powered her way to the line and even extended her lead enough to take in the adulation of the home crowd before crossing the finish line.
Afterwards Haug said she didn’t want to look back after she made her move. “I was afraid to look back, I just kept pushing as hard as I could,” said Haug. “I have to say a big big thank you to Svenja. She protected me from everyone on the bike. She did an amazing job.”
Before the races get kicked off, elite athletes took time to answer questions about the 2013 season, the high competition here in Hamburg and the buzz around the events.
The stars are turning out as we approach the pointy end of the 2013 ITU World Triathlon Series and this weekend it all speeds up with two elite sprints, plus the 2013 ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay Championships in Hamburg.