While she is no stranger to winning, Great Britain’s Non Stanford and former ITU World Triathlon Series World Champion of 2013 has never won a World Cup race in her career, until today. The Brit earned her first career WC gold after surviving two days of racing at the 2017 Chengdu ITU Triathlon World Cup in her first WC race since 2011.
Joining Stanford on her first WC podium was Germany’s Laura Lindemann who earned the silver. While she also is a two-time World Champion for U23 and Junior racing, she debuts to the WC podium in Chengdu. Finishing off the medal count is Kirsten Kasper (USA), who returns to the WC podium for the first time since winning in Salinas last year.
“Is always great always to star the season with a win, but I was not confident until the end, because everything was so quick. The key thing today was to have good transitions, and I’m not known for my good transitions, so I just focussed on staying calm and getting out fast”, said Stanford after her victory. “I knew there were a few strong runners on the field today and that it could be a sprint finish, but I was quite confident in my ability and didn’t worry too much, and that helped a lot”, she said.
In the semifinal rounds on Saturday, the top 14 women from each heat qualified for a spot in the “A” Finals, along with the remaining top-two times to complete the 30-women start list.
Gearing up for the super sprint race, the pontoon dive started the short and sweet 400-metre lap. Great Britain’s Jessica Learmonth led in the water and exited to the first transition.
With the majority of the women’s field entering onto the bike leg at the same time, two large groups formed to ride the 10-kilometre course, however they were only separated by less than 200 metres.
The top women remained at the front and made for a swift second transition. China’s Chunyan Xiong got the one up and started the 2.5-kilometre run lap first, but she was quickly bypassed within a matter of seconds by Stanford.
Stanford took over the lead and never backed down until she crossed the finish line and ended up with the multi-race format gold.
Lindemann then followed for the silver, despite being passed by Claire Michel (BEL) with one kilometre to go and putting her into fourth place, Lindemann put forth a last chance effort to push past Michel and Kasper who was in second to get the silver. Kasper then carried it home to get the bronze.
After crossing the finish line, Lindemann said that after the two races on a row “was hard on the legs. I thought just on saving some energy because I knew the Final was going to be very hard”. Kasper said: “It was a lot of fun this format, and quite a hard fight today for the podium. The semi final went very well and today I was very focussed on getting on the podium on the final meters”
photos Janos Schmidt