Julie Derron rises to Czech challenge to win gold in Karlovy Vary
Switzerland’s Julie Derron made light work of a mighty challenge in Karlovy Vary on Sunday afternoon, making up lost ground in the swim with a powerful 40km ride to help bridge the chasers to the front before a relentless 10km run to the line.
It was another four-deep break from the swim, just as it had in the morning’s men’s race, Sophie Alden (GBR) with a trio of Italians including newcomer Bianca Seregni who made light work of her big debut and only relinquished her grip on the second spot to the experience of a resurgent Ai Ueda (JPN), the Japanese star beaming down the blue carpet once again after what has been a difficult year missing out on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“I was running scared so I just had to go for it until the finish line,” said a delighted Derron. “I was glad there were a lot of u-turns so I could keep an eye on where Ai Ueda was, so I just kept the pace on and pushed until the finish line and give it all I had.”
The early mist had cleared and the sun was drying the course as the women took to the start line at the edge of Rolava Lake. Two-time champion and national favourite Vendula Frintova was a late withdrawal with illness, and it was Britain’s Sophie Alden leading through the early stages of the two-lap swim.
Carlotta Missaglia and Luisa Iogna-Prat were the two Italians slicing through the water out front with teammate Seregni, USA’s Kyleigh Spearing also right in touch as the five athletes exited the water and headed to transition with a decent gap to Jolanda Annen (SUI) and Erika Ackerlund (USA).
Derron was 70 seconds back at this stage, Ueda over 90 seconds, and the two began their mission to reel in those ahead.
Meanwhile Spearing was dropped leaving the Brit and three Italians out front, but already the Derron train was rolling, helped by some useful legs in the form of Marlene Gomez-Islinger (GER) and Michelle Flipo (MEX).
Those 12 were being hotly pursued by a determined duo of Ueda and Netherlands’ Quinty Schoens, the pair working well and making up significant ground on laps four and five to get in touch and the gap closed up further over the final lap.
Ahead, it was a slow transition from Derron but a smoother switch from compatriot Alissa Konig who used it to pull clear out and onto the first of four 2.5km laps of a demanding 10km run ahead.
There was no let up from the Arzachena silver medalist, though, Derron quickly assuming the pole position she would never relinquish.
The striding Seregni held firm for as long as she could before slowly dropping off the Swiss’ relentless pace, a vital high tempo needed to keep the marauding Ueda at bay as she began picking her way towards the medal places.
At the bell, Ueda passed Konig, then gradually chased down Seregni over the final lap but Derron was to prove untouchable, beaming down the blue carpet to the roar of the crowds that erupted once again for the smiling Ueda and again in appreciation of Seregni’s incredible bronze on World Triathlon Cup debut.
Konig held on for fourth ahead of Gomez-Islinger, Annen the third Swiss in the top ten and followed by Flipo, Ackerlund, Selina Klamt and Luisa Iogna-Prat, Quinty Schoens’ huge pull on the bike seeing her home in 11th.
“It was tough,” admitted Derron. “I didn’t have the best first transition, so I had to make up a lot of time. We caught the first group by the end of the first lap of the city and then we had to push for another few laps to catch the first four and then I just tried to keep the pace high. I have been doing some longer distance racing so I just had to keep pushing and keep the pace high. It was a great crowd to race in front of.”
“I am so happy,” said Ai Ueda. “Today was a very hard day. My favourite part is running so I focused on that. This season, I don’t have a good results but this race and this comeback and to get the podium make me very happy. Next race Hamburg and I hope to step up again.”
“I am so happy with this race, it’s my first World Triathlon Cup! The swim was good, I exited first, stayed in the first group in the bike and on the run I gave it my all. I don’t know how I did it, but I did my best and I am so happy about it.”
Related Event: 2021 World Triathlon Cup Karlovy Vary
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