Sarah True defended her title on Saturday as the American dominated the run leg to bring home a back-to-back title in the 2015 ITU World Triathlon Stockholm event. Reclaiming the crown after winning her first WTS title in Stockholm last year, True picked up her first WTS victory of the season with a time of 2:01:05.
“Stockholm is a beautiful city, a beautiful place to race. I came back here wanting to give last year justice and I am pleasantly surprised,” said True. “There were some really strong women today; I have to give them credit for pushing. Katie on the swim, she really went for it. Flora was so strong on the bike, Nicola put her head down, and obviously Andrea on the bike and the run - they kept it an honest race. My goal this year was to make my Olympic team and I’m so proud to do that, because look at Katie getting second. It was a high bar to make our team this year.”
USA controlled the podium once again, as the silver medal went to compatriot Katie Zaferes, who earned her sixth WTS podium of the year. The bronze was awarded to Andrea Hewitt (NZL) who pleasantly found herself up on the podium for the first time since her third-place finish in Auckland earlier in the year.
With near perfect conditions, the elite women walked out onto the pontoon overlooking Riddarfjärden City Hall with the sun shining and 19.4-degree water that called for a wetsuit swim.
Zaferes and True teamed up to take over the two-lap wetsuit swim. After the first 1km lap, the Americans surprised as they were out in front of one of the strongest swimmers on the circuit, Carolina Routier (ESP). The choppy water and longer first lap served to spread the women out, with reigning Olympic champ Nicola Spirigexiting the swim 48 seconds back.
Heading into the first of two separate transitions, the US women geared up on their bikes and dropped Routier right away in an attempt to ride as a twosome and control the next leg.
Duffy, who was down by a ten-second deficit out of the water, managed to showcase her strong cycling ability by pushing through her swim partners to join the likes of Zaferes and True. While her aggressive riding pursued some strategic efforts to get the Americans to push and try to widen the gap between the chase, the attack was ultimately unsuccessful as a group of 12 merged with the leaders to create a 15-strong pack.
The pack, which included Nicola Spirig (SUI), Rachel Klamer (NED), Hewitt, Hanna Philippin (GER), and Australians Gillian Backhouse, Erin Densham and Emma Jackson remained together for the back half of the bike leg and into the second transition, despite a couple of breakaway attempts.
With the second transition zone resting on a deceivingly tough upgrade, those with strong legs were able to gain some distance right away at the start of the run. Duffy, Spirig and True hammered out a lead as soon as their feet hit the pavement, but despite Duffy and Spirig’s impressive performances on the bike, they were unable to keep up with the steady feet of True.
Instead, True took advantage of the hill on each lap to gain an advantage. Hewitt, Zaferes, Densham and Jackson stuck with True on the second of four run laps, but the third trip up the hill was a turning point for the reigning Stockholm champ. She powered through the bike racks and kicked ahead of Hewitt, who was closest to True. While True zoomed ahead to create an insurmountable gap, it looked as if Hewitt would retain her silver medal from 2014. However, in a late push on the last lap, Zaferes found a final speed and pushed past the Kiwi.
“It was super tough. There were parts of this race where I made it harder for myself,” Zaferes said. “It definitely was just grit, especially the last part trying to catch up to Andrea was just about willpower, because it didn’t feel good, but I wanted to do it.”
Up ahead, True high fived the crowd down the blue carpet for her second WTS Stockholm title, while Zaferes took silver and Hewitt closed the podium with third.
photos Janos Schmidt