After a fierce duel throughout the final 10k run, Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand overcame an 8 meter deficit to Jodie Stimpson at 100 meters to go with an explosive sprint to edge her British rival by a single meter at the line.
Both posted equal race-best 35:51 run splits and were timed at an equal 2:03:46 to finish 1-2 at the Abu Dhabi World Triathlon Series event held at the Formula 1 Yas Marina Circuit in the United Arab Emirates.
While she had great success including silver medals at the 2011 and 2015 ITU World Championship, 4th at the 2015 Commonwealth Games, and a 6th in 2012 and 7th at the 2016 Olympics, this was Hewitt’s first WTS win since 2011.
Hewitt dedicated her win to her fiancé and coach Laurent Vidal, who died of a heart attack in November 2015. “Last year the men’s number one spot was dedicated to Laurent and this year I am dedicating my race to Laurent,” Hewitt told ITU media. “I raced two weeks ago in Tiga [Indonesia] and I won. So I knew I was coming here really fit. Laurent always told me that I had everything - I had the dedication, I had the integrity, I had talent and he told me the one thing I was missing was emotion and I didn’t show it a lot of the time,” Hewitt said through tears.
Stimpson, the defending champion at this WTS event, had no regrets about her runner-up finish. “Coming on the straights, Andrea was the stronger one. I was stronger on the hills. To be honest, I’m just ecstatic me and Andrea got on the podium. The amount of work we did all day, if I was going to lose to a sprint finish, I’m glad it was Andrea today,” Stimpson told ITU media. Stimpson started 2016 on a high with her victory at this race, but injuries put her off form and left her missing the Great Britain Olympic women’s team by one place.
Twenty-four year old Sara Vilic of Austria had a breakthrough race, sticking with Hewitt and Stimpson in the lead pack on the run, falling just 7 seconds short in the final sprint. Like Stimpson, Vilic was thrilled with her race. “I can’t believe it, it’s crazy,” said Vilic. "It’s such a nice feeling; I think I’m going to realize it tomorrow. I was training so hard and I’m so happy that it paid off now. I like those technical courses, so I guess it fits me.”
Carolina Routier of Spain (19:11) joined U.S. competitors Summer Cook (19:13) and Katie Zaferes (19:18) and Anastasia Abrosimova of Russia (19:14) in a swim breakaway that put 20 seconds on the rest of the field.
On the first lap of the bike, U.S. competitors Sarah True and Kirsten Kasper, Australian Gillian Backhouse and Alice Betto of Italy joined the lead pack. On the third of 10 laps on the bike, Stimpson and Hewitt made up their 25 second deficit to join a 10-women pack. By the end of the ride, Stimpson and Hewitt led the front pack at a pace that dropped five women by the time they entered T2.
From the start, Stimpson, Hewitt, Vilic and Rachel Klamer broke out front and ran together until Klamer faded halfway through the 10k run. With about 150 meters to go, Stimpson made a surge which earned her an 8 meter lead at the 100 meter mark and which prompted ITU live commentators to say that appeared to be the winning move. An inspired Hewitt then counterattacked and rocketed past in the final 30 meters.
ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi Elite Women
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
March 3, 2017
S 1.5k / B 40k / R 10k
1. Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 2:03:46
2. Jodie Stimpson (GBR) 2:03:46
3. Sara Vilic (AUT) 2:03:53
4. Rachel Klamer (NED) 2:04:17
5. Ai Ueda (JPN) 2:04:52
6. Gillian Backhouse (AUS) 2:04:56
7. Katie Zaferes (USA) 2:05:02
8. Lisa Perterer (AUT) 2:05:05
9. Yuko Takahashi (JPN) 2:05:07
10. Rebecca Spence (NZL) 2:05:13
17. Kirsten Kasper (USA) 2:07:24
22. Renee Tomlin (USA) 2:12:24
23. Summer Cook (USA) 2:12:31
DNF Sarah True