Melissa Hauschildt (AUS) clawed back a three-minute deficit going into the final 20km run with a superb performance to become the 2013 ITU Long Distance world champion in Belfort on Saturday.
Hauschildt’s time of four hours, 42 minutes and 39 seconds denied Camilla Pedersen (DEN) victory, who has to settle for world championship silver medal for the second year running.
Hauschildt was the early pace setter, clocking a time of 35:19 for the first 9.5km run. But with harsh conditions forecast she took a long first transition to add extra clothing, which allowed Pedersen to take the lead. It looked like it would prove to be a costly decision as Pedersen led until the second lap of the 20km run. But Hauschildt fought back in the final stages and finished in 4:44:15, 1 minute and 36 seconds ahead of Pedersen.
Hauschildt said: “I took a long time in transition because I was putting layers and layers on. I definitely didn’t get too hot though so I’m glad I put all those layers on.”
The 2013 gold medallist said her late surge was not part of her race plan but was caused by a grueling bike leg. “The first 10k I felt really good, didn’t run too hard. The bike though was really tough. That climb, 8k at about 10% was hard. When I got off I just had nothing left in my legs. It wasn’t until 7k to go that I started feeling my legs and that’s where I took off, fought Camilla and luckily got the win.”
The adverse weather conditions resulted in changing this year’s race to a duathlon (9.5km run, 87km bike, 20km run) and Pedersen said she was happy with a second silver medal considering the change to the format. “I knew my strongest part was going to be the swim and the long bike and since there’s no swim and a shorter bike I lost a lot of my advantages, so I’m really happy with second. It was my first duathlon ever, so it was tough.”