By Merryn Sherwood on 06/11/11 at 3:33 am
She had history on her side and Rachel Joyce made the most of it, capturing her first and Great Britain’s sixth ITU long distance world title on a cold day in the Nevada desert.
Joyce recorded the second-fastest run split of the day, just behind Great Britain teammate Leanda Cave, but her better bike leg - 3 hours 33 minutes and 9 seconds to Cave’s 3:36:42 - was enough to hand Joyce the win and Cave the silver. Just four weeks after Joyce finished fourth at Kona and Cave third, Joyce’s overall time was 5 hours 34 minutes and 15 seconds to Cave’s 5:37:35. The USA’s Meredith Kessler claimed the bronze with a time of 5:40:45.
The race was modified early on Saturday morning due to cold air and water temperatures, forcing the swim leg to be cancelled for athlete safety. Instead athletes started the bike in staggered five-second interval starts. Therefore the overall time split, not order over the finish line, determined each winner.
In the women’s race, the early pace and fastest bike split was posted by Australia’s Nikki Butterfield with a time of 3 hours 31 minutes and 13 seconds for the 120km bike, two minutes ahead of Joyce. That duo were closely followed into T2 by Kessler and Cave.
But both Cave and Joyce, who had started right at the back of the time trial based women’s start, started to kick early in the run and they quickly moved up through the field. By lap two of the run Joyce moved into the lead, Cave moved into second place on lap three. In a close battle for bronze, Kessler just edged Butterfield.
The result means that Great Britain are now the equal most successful nation at ITU long distance world championships. In the 15 year history of the event, Denmark have won six titles - five men’s and one women’s. Great Britain now also have six, with five titles coming from the elite women’s field and one men’s. Apart from Caroline Steffen‘s (SUI) win last year, in a race where Great Britain didn’t have any entrants, British women had won the previous four ITU long distance world titles thanks to Chrissie Wellington, Bella Comerford, Jodie Swallow and Cave.