Gwen Jorgensen takes three-peat in Yokohama
Showing no weaknesses despite the rainy and cold weather, Gwen Jorgensen (USA) extended her undefeated streak in claiming her ninth consecutive win in taking out the 2015 ITU World Triathlon Series Yokohama on Saturday. Crossing the line with a lead of over one minute, the win for Jorgensen also marks her third-straight victory in Yokohama and catapulted her back to the number one position in the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings.
Taking the silver medal was Ashleigh Gentle (AUS), who posted the best performance of her career in earning her first WTS podium. Fellow Australian Emma Moffatt also joined her on the podium when she took bronze to earn her first medal since the 2013 WTS Grand Final in London.
Jorgensen looked back a curious race, one in which she was more concerned about staying upright in the wet bike conditions than the actual pace that was being ridden.
“It was wet out there and I knew I had to be careful so rode at the front a little more to stay away from any crashes. I heard something behind me, I wasn’t sure if anyone went down or not but it is better to be safe.
“I came here knowing this is the last 10k before the Rio test event so I really wanted to get a good 10k in and push myself and really go hard.”
And as for the 9 in a row, Jorgensen isn’t keeping count.
“No, you guys count for me, I don’t need to. It is weird still when people say that and when I actually think about it so I stay focused on what I do, swim, bike and run and can’t control what everyone else is doing so I just control what I can control.
“The number one goal for this season is to qualify for the Rio Olympic Games, so I need to be top 8 at the Rio test event and first or second American, that is the thought top of mind.”
Meanwhile t was an emotional Gentle reflecting on a career best day.
“I don’t think it will (sink in) for a while, it feels pretty good,” said the 24-year-old who was not expecting that performance based on the past year but very happy with the result.
“I did my first ever WTS race at the test event for London in 2011, I got ninth there and it’s taken me quite a few years to actually get on the podium, it’s definitely worth the waiting for because it’s a pretty awesome feeling, a real confidence booster for the rest of the season.
“I guess not judging by the results I’ve had this year, I haven’t been that great but had a really good block of training. My coach Cliff English has been working me pretty hard this past five weeks after the Gold Coast race, my training has been going really well but you never know come race day.”
The smile on Moffatt’s face as she crossed the line was a mix of relief and excitement.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been up on the podium and to be there with Ash’s first podium is pretty special so really happy with today’s result,” said Moffatt.
“For me I think about getting my confidence back and today’s probably the first step to doing that.
“The last year I’ve had a lot of doubt when racing so hopefully now I’ll be able to back myself a little bit more and hopefully keep on improving.”
Choppy waters greeted the women elites as they started out the Japanese race that marked the halfway point of the 2015 World Triathlon Series. With wetsuits required at a water temperature of 19 degrees Celsius, it was USA’s Summer Cook, Japan’s Yuka Sato and Spain’s Carolina Routier who dominated in the choppy swim and led into transition.
While an early lead group of 22 formed early on the bike, which included the likes of Jorgensen, Cook, Sato, Andrea Hewitt (NZL) and Claudia Rivas (MEX), the gap to the chasers was short lived. The wet conditions saw riders focusing on remaining strategic instead of fast on the nine-lap course since each lap contained over 20 corners that could have caused crashes if the athletes were not careful. The lead bunch soon doubled in size and eventually increased to over 40 athletes as the chasers caught up and closed the gap with two laps to go before the run.
The large bike group caused a lot of congestion in the second transition that saw a pack of runners join together to head out on the run. However it did not take long for Jorgensen to bust out her signature move, breaking away from the rest and easing into a solo run that carried her well into the finish line with time to spare.
Gentle also capitalized on a breakaway performance in the second lap of the run that positioned herself into the second-place spot. While the battle for the bronze seemed to be up for grabs for awhile between the likes of Moffat, Non Stanford (GBR), Renee Tomlin (USA) and Hewitt, Moffatt pulled away in the last lap to secure the medal and give Australia two spots on the podium.
Yokohama was the first race back for former 2013 World Champion Stanford. She executed a strong performance, and although she was forced to serve a 15-second penalty for her wetsuit being out of the box in the transition zone, she finished in seventh place—a respectable comeback race and one that suggests the best is yet to come this season for the young Brit.
In winning, Jorgensen overtakes her compatriot Katie Zaferes (who did not race in Yokohama) as the leader in the Columbia Threadneedle rankings race in 2015.