Under foggy skies and with a slight chill in the air, Great Britain’s Vicky Holland announced her return from injury in style with her first ever World Triathlon Series win. A late surge on the run gave the Brit just what she needed to hold off the USA’s Katie Zaferes and Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig. With silver, Zaferes moved into the top spot on the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings.
“I felt really good in training, but probably just for about the last month or so. It has been a tough run for me, I have had a lot of injury problems since January so I have watched the last WTS races but I was dying to get out there,” said Holland. “This day was an experiment to see how fit I was, we thought I would be quite good for a 5km, but a 10km might be a stretch, but I felt really great. I knew there was not many of us there in the end so I thought I was going to have to dig and I turned around and I was the only one left, so it just seemed to play off in the day for me.”
Zaferes got her day started with a bang as she zoomed to the top of the swim pack and led the 48-deep field around the one-lap 750m swim, which was shortened due to water temperatures. Brazil’s Pamela Oliveirajoined the American as one of the first athletes to emerge, with Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins also seemingly un-phased by the chilly temps with a strong position out of the Atlantic.
Together with Flora Duffy (BER), the foursome powered away on the first of eight bike laps in an attempt to create distance between themselves and the powerful Spirig and Sarah True (USA). But with the reigning Olympic gold medallist back racing for the first time in two years, the gap was short lived. At the end of the second lap, the distance was diminished and a 27-person group was created.
Despite holding down a part-time job while also training after graduating from Oxford University, South Africa’sMari Rabie showed her tenacity as she dominated the front of the bike pack lap after lap alongside Duffy and Spirig.
Meanwhile True, Zaferes, Erin Densham (AUS), Anne Haug (GER) and Junior World Champ Laura Lindemann(GER) stayed tucked safely into the middle of the pack.
Spirig came roaring into transition and hammered out in front with Vendula Frintova (CZE) and Haug in the first half kilometer of the 10km run. Holland picked up the pace and reeled in the ladies, which drug the rest of the chase up making them a half-dozen deep pack on the first of four laps.
Young German Sophia Saller took her spot at the front of the run pack and held onto it for half of the four-lap run, alongside Holland. The group remained together until the fourth lap with Holland gunned ahead in a well-timed break. The final kick was just enough to keep Zaferes and Spirig away, giving her her first WTS gold.
Zaferes followed in next after the Brit, and although she was unable to capture her first WTS win of the season, second place was all she needed to takeover the Threadneedle Rankings.
“It is amazing, I mean I have never done this I have only dreamed of it, so I just want to keep it going,” said Zaferes.
And as far as the former Olympic Champion was concerned, a bronze medal was quite satisfactory as she was just thrilled to be competing again on the WTS circuit.
““I am extremely happy, it is like winning for me because I had a great time here in Cape Town. I had some good days, my family is here and I just ran a marathon last week so it was a lot of fun, Spirig said. “I was surprised how strong I was on the bike, so I just enjoyed it.”