Non Stanford (GBR) stole the show under the hot Madrid sun with a blistering performance at the ITU World Championship Series on Saturday to claim her first WTS title. After a solid swim saw her exit the water just outside the top ten, Stanford made her way through the field on the 40km bike and then never looked back in the 10km run. She finished in two hours, four minutes and 39 seconds.
“The plan was to go off really hard in the run which I did,” Non said. “And I’m not going to lie, in the second lap of the run I thought ‘oh no, I’ve gone off far too hard’. But I managed to hold it together and I could see the gap increasing which gives you confidence and I managed to hold on. I’m not sure how but I’m absolutely pooped now.”
Anne Haug (GER) completed a remarkable comeback after a slow swim to finish second in 2: 05:05 and Jodie Stimpson (GBR) made it two podium places for Great Britain to claim bronze in a time of 2: 05:14.
In the 1.5km swim, an initial breakaway group of three soon became five in what proved to be a fast time, with Carolina Routier (ESP) exiting the water in the lead in 18:56. Alongside Routier were Pamela Oliveira (BRA), Sarah Groff (USA), Alice Betto (ITA) and Nicky Samuels (NZL). It was an impressive swim from Samuels, knowing that her strength on the bike was yet to come.
Indeed it was Samuels who took the initiative at the start of the 40km bike ride, overtaking Groff for the lead halfway through the eight-lap ride. The pair tackled the tough, hilly course together in a small breakaway until the final lap when the chase group bridged up.
However, the most impressive bike ride was not from the front but from the back, where Haug had exited the water in last place in 20:35. The German finished fourth at the Madrid event last year and started closing down the field as soon as she got on her favoured section of the race. By the halfway stage she had reached the main chase group and then started to close down on the lead as the laps ticked by. Stanford was also nicely placed as the bike entered its closing stages, knowing her strong running ability would give her a chance of a podium finish.
The chasing pack caught up with Samuels and Groff on lap 6 to set up the possibility of a thrilling 10km run and as the field entered transition after the bike the first ten places were separated by just five seconds. It was Stanford who started to break away on the run, building up a significant lead with three laps to go.
After a tough swim, Haug said her comeback on the bike took everything out of her. “Madrid is my favourite race and I give it all. I don’t save anything for the run and give it everything and then hope for the best. It was so hard on the bike so I had to be really smart running and save anything for the very last minute and I’m pleased it paid off.”
Stimpson put in a mature performance, keeping herself in the top ten throughout the race before pushing on in the run to reach the podium. Stimpson also held off a super finish from Gwen Jorgensen (USA) and said she was conscious of being caught. “Gwen is a very fast second 5k runner so I didn’t want to hold back. Anne tried to help me in the beginning but I needed to keep the pace on. I saw her (Gwen) coming. You can’t not really, the tall figure of Gwen, you can’t miss her.”
Jorgensen is the highest ranked woman in this season’s series, but may reflect on a swim and bike ride that ultimately cost her a place on the podium. Despite just missing out of the medals, Jorgensen remains top of the rankings. “Thankfully I did a lot better than two years ago, so that’s good. I’m just trying to do my best in every race and keep learning and keep improving.”
Article written by Adam Petrie
Ahead of the World Triathlon Madrid, athletes took time out on Thursday to speak with media on their seasons to date, race plans, and the ever evolving speed of the WTS circuit.
The World Triathlon Madrid marks the halfway point in the ITU World Triathlon Series and with stacked start lists in both the men’s and women’s races, the hot and hilly course is set to see some savage battles.