Gwen Jorgensen ran her way into the history books in San Diego on Friday, becoming the first U.S woman to win an ITU World Triathlon Series race on the back of a scintillating final leg.
After leaving T2 just over a minute down on the leaders of Emma Moffatt and the Sarah Groff, Jorgensen smashed out a 33 minute and 10 second 10km run split to overtake Moffatt with about one kilometre to go. Behind her, Great Britain’s Non Stanford pulled out a last-ditch sprint to claim silver ahead of Moffatt, who had lead for almost all except the final stages of the race.
But the top of the podium belonged to Jorgensen, who added the win to her two World Cup titles and two series medals. Afterwards she said had hardly even considered the magnitude of the gap from T2.
“I never really thought about it, I just focused on my race and just did what I had to do,” Jorgensen said.
“This feels amazing to be on home soil, a national championship and to be the first woman from the USA to win one of these is an amazing feeling and I feel it is really going to increase the sport here in the USA and more people are going to start winning from the USA hopefully.
“It was a great race, I was focused on the processes today, I switched coach I am with Jamie Turner this year and we have really been focusing on my weaknesses and we still have a lot of work to do I just tried to focus on the process and if you concentrate on the process, the outcome will come. I was just focused on myself and doing what I know how to do.”
It was a breakthrough performance for Stanford, the ITU World U23 Champion from Auckland last year.
“I am absolutely delighted, I knew I was in good form coming here and to have such a great swim and a strong run, it is always nice when it is a bit of a sprint finish, it makes it more exciting, I really worked hard for that I was pushing the whole way so yeah, I am pleased,” said Stanford.
“I knew we were closing, I was trying to work it out in my head how quickly, I knew we were chipping down each lap, but I didn’t feel we would quite get to Emma and then all of a sudden she came into sight and I just put my head down and kept pushing and I knew Annie was there and she was putting pressure on me. My coach at home trains us for sprint finishes and I was determined not to let him down and went for it and luckily I came out on top this time.”
Moffatt was equally happy with her performance and place on the podium in a strong performance from the London bronze medalist.
“It was an excellent race, there were four of us in the lead group with three working with me Groffy and Oliveira, we had to work hard riding but we were determined to stay in front of those other girls otherwise it is a running race. I felt pretty good running but my hammies were cramping but unfortunately I couldn’t run as fast as I wanted to without having to stop.
“I felt like her (Jorgensen) legs were like twice as long as mine when she went past I was like ‘this is not fair’ but I knew they might be coming past, Non has been running well and I knew Anne has been in good form so I thought I might be in trouble.”
As promised in the forecast, the weather warmed up under clear blue skies for the second event in the ITU World Triathlon Series in San Diego, with the mercury hitting 29 degrees. However the water remained cool and it was a wetsuit swim to start the day. That didn’t stop a group of four, Moffatt, Groff, Spain’s Carolina Routier and Brazil’s Pamela Oliveira, establishing a significant lead of 30 seconds from the water.
Behind them, two chase groups combined on the second lap of the bike to become one large pack which contained a large number of the favourites, including Jorgensen, Stanford, Germany’s Anne Haug, Great Britain’s Jodie Stimpson, Chile’s Barbara Riveros Diaz, Australia’s Felicity Abram and New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt.
Listen to what the TV analysts had to say about the race
The lead four continued to work brilliantly together, extending their lead to 45 seconds after three laps and threatening to take the race away from the rest of the field. The first signs of a move from the chasers came at the halfway point on the bike, as for the first time they reversed the trend and took 4 seconds out of the leaders with Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle taking the lead with the Netherlands Rachel Klamer.
But it was the seventh lap on the bike that made a difference, the lead ballooned from 37 seconds to 54 seconds. They extended that in the bell lap so that Groff, Moffatt, Oliveira and Routier started the bike 1 minute and 8 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. While Routier and Oliveira dropped shortly after T2, an intriguing battle opened up between Groff and Moffatt. While Groff went to the front in the first lap, by the end of it Moffatt had reeled her back in and taken the lead.
Behind them a group of five, Haug, Stanford, Stimpson, Abram and Jorgensen, started to make up ground. While Abram had to serve a penalty and dropped from the group, the rest caught Groff at the end of the second lap and from there Jorgensen went after Moffatt.
At the start of the final lap the gap between the two was down to 29 seconds, but that didn’t last long as she caught the Olympic bronze medallist and didn’t look back and the home crowd went wild as Jorgensen came down the finish. But behind her the drama wasn’t over as a frenetic sprint for the two other podium places ensued, where Stanford just edged out Moffatt for her first WTS medal. It comes less than six months after Stanford won the 2012 U23 World Championship, marking her as a star to watch in 2012. It was Moffatt’s second major podium in 2013, after also claiming bronze in Mooloolaba.
Anne Haug’s fourth place finished was enough to see her hold onto the overall series lead after two races, while Abram is in second overall.
It was a philosophical World Triathlon Series leader after the race.
“I am very pleased with that, I had my focus on the swim and I did great job on the swim and was safe in the pack and that was my focus for this race, yeah maybe I was a little bit tired for the Auckland race but in the end a solid performance and I am pleased with that,” said Haug.
“I go back to Sedonna (Arizona) for one week and then race St Anthony and then a break in Germany and build up to Hamburg which is my main focus this year. You have to have solid races, you don’t have to win every time for the series, if you stay in the top five I think it is okay.”
Alistair Brownlee, Sarah Groff, Matt Chrabot and Felicity Abram address the media at the official press conference in San Diego
Watch the Live ITU Athlete Hangout + with Olympians Sarah Groff and Richard Murray.
They are two of the greatest male triathletes ever and will go head to head once again at the ITU World Triathlon Series San Diego this weekend.
Whether you are a veteran triathlete or just revving up for your first sprint, here are a few tips from everyone can benefit from even if you aren't heading to San Diego.
The second round of the ITU World Triathlon Series touches down where it all started in the birthplace of triathlon in San Diego this weekend with some of the top names set to compete.
The first ITU World Triathlon Series races of 2013 showed that Javier Gomez and Anne Haug are the ones to beat this year, but Auckland also threw up more intruiging performances beyond just the podium. We take a look at them here.
Germany's Anne Haug started 2013 where she left off in 2012 in the ITU World Triathlon Series in Auckland, blasting away from the Netherlands Maaike Caelers and Australia's Felicity Abram to record her third consecutive ITU win.
Spain's Javier Gomez continued his unbeaten record in Auckland today, claiming victory in the opening round of the ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final ahead of fellow countryman Mario Mola and Portugal's Joao Silva.