Taking on one of the most popular and anticipated World Triathlon Series race of the year, USA’s Katie Zaferesdominated the sprint distance course and claimed her first-career victory at the 2016 Hamburg Wasser World Triathlon.
After leading in all three disciplines and leaving enough gas in her tank to conquer the five-kilometre run, Zaferes grabbed the WTS finish tape for the first time in her career. The gold makes her the 18th woman in WTS history to claim a title.
Zaferes said of her debut victory, “I am so excited! The first part, this beginning of the year was not what I wanted. I was not the Katie that I know I am, and today I just raced like me and I got the reward and it was awesome!”
“I just decided to keep it simple, I had been overthinking stuff at the beginning of the year and today I just was going to go as hard as I can in the swim, bike and run and that is what I did and I believed in myself. This is exactly what I needed just going into Rio, is just to see that I was the same person that I was last year.”
Another woman that made it onto the WTS podium for the first time was Rachel Klamer (NED) who seized the silver medal, while the bronze was awarded to Gwen Jorgensen.
“I am really happy, I can’t describe it. The last couple of years I have made progress and this morning I was talking with Richard (Murray) and I was like ‘one day I want to be on that podium’, thought it probably would not be today, but maybe in a year from now. But when we were racing in the swim, which actually I was most worried about, I felt like I had a good position so just had to keep working on it. And then on the bike, the girls were working together, which was really good and then on the run when I looked back I thought, ‘well today must be that day’.”
With comfortable weather conditions and a venue lined with spectators, the women kicked off the last WTS race before the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August.
With only a sprint distance course ahead, it was Great Britain’s Lucy Hall who dominated the one-lap 750-kilometre swim. However, just a few strokes behind her were seven women who were not going to allow her to get away.
The women who exited the water together immediately worked to create a break on the bike. With the group of eight, which included Hall, Zaferes, Klamer, Carolina Routier (ESP) Charlotte Bonin (ITA), Natalie Van Coevorden (AUS) and Anastasia Abrosimova (RUS), pushed forward and early on starting to edge away with a comfortable lead.
Jorgensen found herself in the first chase group alongside a pack of six women after the swim. Soon over 30 cyclists joined them on the second lap to create a 40-strong chasing pack.
While the large chase group contained threatening names such as Lisa Norden (SWE), Jorgensen, Barbara Riveros (CHI) and Brits Jodie Stimpson and Helen Jenkins, the mass was just too heavy to chip away at the leading women.
Upon entering the second transition zone, seven women had a lead of almost a minute. It was then that Zaferes and Klamer took to the streets and began their quest to the podium.
While the two ran stride for stride on the first lap, Zaferes blasted away on the second lap. She maintained her advantage, choosing not to risk a slower pace down the finish chute for a few celebratory high fives, and claimed her debut WTS title.
With a huge smile on her face, Klamer followed just 11 seconds behind to also historically grab a spot on the podium for the first time.
And while it was Jorgensen who didn’t end up on top in Hamburg, the American was able to claim the bronze medal and earn her 22nd career WTS podium. The medal came after an impressive run split of 15:44, the second fastest 5k split in WTS history after she was down by 55 seconds after T2.
“Obviously I am a little bit gutted with what happened today with my race, but to have Katie cross the line first, it is definitely bittersweet today. It started in the swim, I wasn’t in the front pack of the swim and yeah I just did not have it today. Soy yeah, I am not thrilled but to have Katie come in first, that is just incredible to have her earn her first win and keep it in the USA family,” said Jorgensen.
photo Getty Images