Sweden’s Lisa Norden gave the home crowd what they were hoping for, a win on home soil as she claimed her third ITU World Triathlon Series win in a dominant all around performance in Stockholm on Saturday.
Norden beat the Netherlands’ Maaike Caelers and Chile’s Barbara Riveros Diaz, just two and a half weeks after her incredible sprint for silver at the London 2012 Olympic Games. In summing up what the win meant to her, Norden said she couldn’t think of a more perfect outcome.
“If you have kind of a dream scenario how could my life possibly turn out as it’s best, this would have been it and I’m in it which is incredible,” Norden said. “Going out on the second lap knowing I had a gap, I knew all I had to do was keep running and I felt I had the strength, I had the legs and I had the crowd for it. So, incredible.”
In a fast and frenetic 20km bike through the streets of Stockholm, Norden, Barbara Riveros Diaz and Densham stayed in the lead pack for the entire leg, while others changed around them. A seven woman break was reeled in largely thanks to the work of New Zealand’s Kate McIlroy, but a large group of 25 athletes was split again, this time with McIlroy and others joining a 12-woman leading group and Germany’s Anne Haug battling to bring the second group up again.
The packs did come together just ahead of T2, and it was Norden who was first out of transition and straight to the front. While her former Team ITU development teammate Riveros Diaz stayed on her shoulder for the first lap, Norden stormed ahead from the start of the second lap and didn’t look back. She crossed the line in 1 hour and 36 seconds for her third ITU World Triathlon Series win, and first since Hamburg in 2010.
Behind her the fight for podium places became interesting as straight out of transition, it was Densham and Haug who pulled ahead of the field. But they were both caught by the barnstorming Caelers, who when flew past Riveros Diaz with half a lap to go. The London Olympian has has a breakthrough season, as she claimed her first ITU World Cup podium in Tiszaujvaros just before the Games and now her first ITU World Triathlon Series medal in Stockholm.
“The swim was very tough, it’s my weakness, so I need to work hard. I’m still not very good, but just good enough to catch up on the last part of the bike with the lead group,” Caelers said. “I knew I could run fast, I showed in the World Cup in Tiszaujvaros, so my legs felt a bit tired in the bike. Anne (Haug) did a lot of work and she fought very hard, I tried to work with her but she was a bit stronger on the bike, and I had a worse transition but after my transition my legs felt really good. And then I could catch up with Barbara…and I’m very happy and surprised.”
Riveros Diaz said she was excited to be able to put a positive spin on her August, after a frustrating Olympic race.
“I was a little bit disappointed after the Olympic Games, it wasn’t my day, I feel very bad. So it’s nice to have a second chance,” she said. “It’s not the same definitely, but it’s really nice to race here in Stockholm. The course especially with the uphill transition there, it’s very challenging, so I think everyone enjoyed it. I think with the crowd, the athletes enjoyed the course. It’s very technical, it’s not just ride your bike, it’s how are you going to go around the corners how your accelerate, it’s a very powerful race.”
Haug finished fourth for the third consecutive ITU World Triathlon Series race, after also finishing just off the podium in Madrid and Hamburg. She hasn’t finished lower the seventh in an ITU World Triathlon Series race so far in 2012.
Densham’s fifth place was enough for her to take over the lead in the overall ITU World Triathlon Series rankings, moving ahead of New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt.
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