Yokohama, Japan Sweden's Lisa Norden finally took victory at today's Dextro Energy Triathlon - ITU World Championship Series leg in Yokohama, Japan. The 24 year old Swede ended her streak of three silver medals with gold in a thrilling three woman sprint with a time of 1 hour 55 minutes and 56 seconds. In second place, in a reversal of the Madrid race, was Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand, five seconds back. In third was home favourite Juri Ide a further three seconds in arrears. Temperatures soared to over 40 degrees Celsius with the 100% humidity.
"I wanted to step up to day and I showed I have the ability to be on the top of the podium," said Norden. "When I started the season I didn't intend to be a contender. I'm extremely happy to be having the season I am."
A group of four exited the water, including Annabel Luxford from Australia and Britain's Liz Blatchford, together and hit the technical bike course; and although they would try to breakaway early in the race, they were caught on the third of eight laps by the chase group of 15. Even with almost all of the top contenders in this lead group the tempo was still high as a fast approaching Nicola Spirig, winner of the London leg of the Dextro Energy Triathlon - ITU World Championship Series event last weekend was making ground. Despite exiting the water 80 seconds down, Spirig would time trial the entire opening 30 kilometres on her own in a dominant display of cycling strength and catch the leaders for the final two laps. With the heat of the day growing, the group were content to leave things for the 10-kilometre run.
The run started slowly with a large group of the top ten contenders all staying together, testing each other's legs. It was not until the five kilometre mark that the pace quickened and streaks of daylight showed between competitors. At the front Norden, Hewitt and Ide moved ahead and despite some surges in the final few kilometres all three stayed side by side. With 400 metres to go Norden made her charge for the line, dropping both Hewitt and Ide. Looking back with 20 metres to go, Norden could see she was alone and smiled to the crowd. Hewitt managed to just beat Ide for second with a smart change of pace.
"I tried to put a couple to surges in the last lap not to leave thins down to the final. But the girls came with me," recalled Norden at the finish. "I've lost two sprints this year already and did not want to have it happen again!"
"I was so far out there on the run that I was just hanging on all the way to the end. It was a long sprint and I think it worked in Lisa's favour," replied Hewitt.
With her win Norden moves to within 120 points of series leader Emma Moffat heading into the Dextro Energy Triathlon - ITU World Championship Series Grand Final in three weeks time. Hewitt solidifies her third place ranking with her silver medal performance.
If Norden wins the Grand Final and Moffatt fails to make the podium, then Norden will be crowned the 2009 champion.
The free live broadcast of tomorrow's men's race will be at www.triathlon.org/tv
Dextro Energy Triathlon - ITU World Championship Series
Official Rankings - Race 7 of 8
1st - Emma Moffatt (AUS) 3,140 pts
2nd - Lisa Norden (SWE) 3,020
3rd - Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 2,766
4th - Daniela Ryf (SUI) 2,374
5th - Sarah Haskins (USA) 2,189
Click here for full rankings
Yokohama Dextro Energy Triathlon - ITU World Championship Series
1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run
Elite Women - Unofficial Results
Gold - Lisa Norden (SWE) 01:55:56
Silver - Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 01:56:00 +:04
Bronze - Juri Ide (JPN) 01:56:03 +:07
4th - Liz Blatchford (GBR) 01:56:23 +:27
5th - Annabel Luxford (AUS) 01:56:30 +:34
6th - Kiyomi Niwata (JPN) 01:56:31 +:35
7th - Elizabeth May (LUX) 01:56:45 +:49
8th - Kirsten Sweetland (CAN) 01:56:51 +:55
9th - Sarah Haskins (USA) 01:56:57 +1:01
10th - Nicola Spirig (SUI) 01:57:03 +1:07
Official full field results will be available here
The race was standard Olympic distance: 1.5-kilometer swim, 40-kilometer bike, 10-kilometer run. Click here for more event information.
For more information on the Dextro Energy Triathlon - ITU World Championship Series, please visit www.triathlon.org