Canada’s Paula Findlay won the first World Cup title of her career on Sunday, topping Japan’s Ai Ueda at the Monterrey ITU Triathlon World Cup. The 20-year old pulled away on the first of four run laps, building her advantage throughout the run.
The women were first to race, and as expected, American super-swimmer Hayley Peirsol jumped into the lead right from the start, easily swimming away from the field of 38 women. Peirsol entered the first transition with a 40-second advantage over a chase group that included Findlay, Claudia Rivas (MEX), Line Jensen (DEN), Marie Rabie (RSA), Chie Nakashima (JPN) and Elizabeth Bravo (ECU). A second chase group, which included Ueda, entered transition 90 seconds behind Peirsol.
Peirsol tucked low in her aerobars and tried to time-trial away from the chasers, but after the second of eight laps on the bike, her lead was down to just 25 seconds. The chase group swallowed up the Peirsol midway through lap three and began rotating the lead to hold off second group, which included Ueda and a number of strong runners.
Findlay headed out of T2 alongside Nakashima and both set off on a fast pace to pull away from the pack. Ueda exited T2 40 seconds back of the leaders, and immediately began to bridge the gap on the women in front of her. After the second of four laps through Fundidora Park, Findlay was alone in the lead and Ueda had pulled all the way up into second place, 17 seconds behind the Canadian. Jensen ran through the 5K mark 38 seconds behind Findlay, with Rabie and Rivas running another 30 seconds back.
“I knew those girls were coming fast behind me, so I just tried to keep my stride rate high and it worked out well,” Findlay said.
Findlay held her lead through the third lap, before putting on a big surge during the final two kilometres to pull well ahead of Ueda. The Canadian broke the tape in 1:56:40, marking the first time she’s finished a World Cup race (she did not finish her only other World Cup start at the HyVee Des Moines Elite Cup last year). Ueda finished second, 33 seconds back, with Jensen grabbing the final spot on the podium.
“I expected to be in the front on the swim, but it didn’t go so well,” Jensen said. “I just decided to take the bike easy and then I felt great on the run.”
Rabie and Bravo finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
“I’m so surprised right now. I really didn’t expect that,” Findlay said at the finish. “I felt good on the first 5K, but the last half of the run was really a struggle.”