USA’s Gwen Jorgensen was crowned royalty on Friday for a second time after winning her 12th straight race at the 2015 ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final Chicago, completing a perfect undefeated WTS season.
After winning in true Jorgensen fashion by blasting away in the final 2.5 kilometres of the run, she earned the World Champion title with a perfect score of 5200 points in the Columbia Threadneedles Rankings.
“This is just crazy, I never thought I would be unbeaten this season, to be able to perform on so many different days when I am not feeling, hilly courses, it just doesn’t seem real, ” said Jorgensen.
Great Britain compatriots Non Stanford and Vicky Holland joined Jorgensen on the Grand Final podium after pushing to stick with the World Champion for three out of the four run laps. But earning the silver medal for Stanford and the bronze for Holland is the equivalent of earning gold, as they both earned their National Federation’s requirements to join the British Olympic team for the 2016 Rio Games.
“Absolutely, it is really really tough, so to say I haven’t been sweating over it for the last few weeks would be an understatement. I tried to play it down, but I was in a massive amount of stress and now that it is done I am quite relieved that we got both places on the team for the Olympics,” said Stanford on completing the tough Olympic qualification process.
Holland added on making the Olympic team, “That is what I absolutely came here to do today. You never want to enter a race not wanting to win, but with that said for me getting on the podium today is a win.”
As the last stop in the 2015 WTS season, the Series podium was also announced. Andrea Hewitt (NZL) put together a consistent swim and bike and hammered home on the run to finish in fourth place in the race, which boosted her Series points enough to place her second overall in the CT Rankings. Sarah True (USA) finished seventh in the day, but remained on the Series podium in third.
Lake Michigan welcomed the elite woman with a wetsuit swim that made for a strong two-lap 1500 metre swim. Carolina Routier (ESP) set out with intention at the Grand Final, making sure to set the tone of the day, which was all about pushing max watts in the hunt for the World Championship podium.
Looking to keep their positions in the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings, USA’s Katie Zaferes and Sarah True positioned themselves at the front of the pack along with the likes of Emma Moffatt (AUS), Stanford and Holland.
As they ran over Lake Shore Drive with the scenic Chicago skyline in the background, reigning champ Jorgensen jutted her way to the front of the women for a prime spot out on the bike after T1.
Early on the eight-lap bike course, Flora Duffy (BER) started banging out a brutal pace in an effort to drop some ladies. As one of the strongest cyclists in the circuit, she continued an attempt to break away from the peloton, but the momentum of the Grand Final carried too much weight and the lead pack that would be counted as 29-strong stayed tightly together.
Behind them, Pamela Oliveira (BRA) and Jodie Stimpson (GBR), who was out for most of the season with an injury, just missed the peloton out of T1 but as they are both strong cyclists, it took less than two laps to bridge up over the 15 second gap.
Charlotte McShane (AUS) blasted around the course along with Duffy and the brilliant British foursome, while Jorgesen chose to stay tucked inside the group with Zaferes often riding at the rear of the group that contained nearly 30 women.
While Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) worked to pull up the chase, chipping away at the gap on each lap, it wasn’t quite enough to join the main group as the top athletes transitioned onto the run with a 40-second advantage.
Though McShane shot out of T2 first, Holland and Stanford were the first to blast past the young Aussie, followed by McShane’s training partner Jorgensen.
The threesome opened up a 12-second lead after the first of four run laps. A back and forth battle then ensued between Jorgensen and Stanford as they flip flopped in the top spot. Holland stayed firmly set in the third place position, keeping the podium position and her spot in Rio on the hook.
The battle between the American and the Brit remained tight for the first three laps. But in a final jolt, Jorgensen put her gears into motion for the remaining kilometres and burst ahead of Stanford for the World Title. Stanford followed in second, while Holland took third.