Flora Duffy of Bermuda dominated at Rotterdam for her second Grand Final victory and her second straight WTS series World Championship to cap off a near-perfect season in which she won 5 regular season WTS races and took 2nd in her other regular WTS finish.
Duffy finished the swim right on the toes of swim leader Jessica Learmonth of Great Britain, joined Learmonth and Katie Zaferes of the U.S. on a bike breakaway that gave the trio a 1:29 lead on a chase pack of six women, then finished with a flourish – a race-best 33:35 run that brought her to the finish in 1:58:39 with a 55 seconds margin of victory over Katie Zaferes and 2:27 over 3rd place Jessica Learmonth.
The 1,200 points Grand Final win gave Duffy a perfect 5,200 WTS points for the year and her second straight Grand Final-World Championship double. After a below par swim and bike, Ashleigh Gentle of Australia surged back on the run from out of the top 10 to sixth place at the finish to protect her runner-up finish in the year end WTS World Championship standings.
Katie Zaferes, well recovered after her painful bike crash at WTS Stockholm, advanced past Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand for 3rd place in the 2017 WTS standings.
At the finish, Duffy said she would not have anticipated such a dominant year. “This race went just the way I wanted today,” said Duffy. “I had a great swim which set up a good bike. I made sure I was careful on the bike with so much at stake. It would have seemed crazy if I thought at the start of the season things would turn out this way.”
After the win, Duffy joined Karen Smyers, Michellie Jones, Emma Carney, Emma Moffatt, and Gwen Jorgensen as two-time ITU Women's World champions – all one win behind Emma Snowsill’s 3 ITU Olympic distance World Championship golds.
Duffy’s 2017 WTS winnings have totaled $212,000 – including $102,000 for regular WTS events, $30,000 for her Grand Final win and $80,000 for winning the season long WTS points chase.
Katie Zaferes was happy to race so well this day just weeks after her bike crash in Sweden. “I am so excited I told Flora at the finish 'You may have won, but I felt I did,'” said Zaferes, who said she took all precautions on the Rotterdam course that was twisty and slick with rain. “After my crash, I put my tire pressure low, and I trusted Flora’s line on the corners and played it safe and did it all well. Third place at the end of the year - that's one up from last year!”
Jessica Learmonth was excited with her second straight WTS podium. “I have been having an issue with my leg and keeping up with Flora on the bike I didn’t know how it would go. At the start of the run, I tried to ignore my hamstring. Once I got going, it was steady and I got into a rhythm and tried to hold on.”
Jessica Learmonth of Great Britain led the swim in 19:12, which gave her a 1 second lead on Flora Duffy, 4 seconds on Carolina Routier of Spain, 6 seconds on Taylor Spivey of the U.S., 8 seconds on Katie Zaferes of the U.S., 10 seconds on Summer Cook of the U.S., 25 seconds on Kirsten Kasper of the U.S., 26 seconds on Rachel Klamer of Netherlands, and 27 seconds on Alice Betto of Italy and Jodie Stimpson of Great Britain. Key WTS points contenders were further back – series 3rd place Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand (+34s) and series runner-up Ashleigh Gentle (+50s).
At the end of the first of seven bike laps, Duffy, Learmonth and Zaferes opened a 40 seconds lead on the chasers including Betto, Joanna Brown of Canada, Kasper, Klamer, Stimpson, Spivey, and Cook.
The top three – Zaferes, Duffy and Learmonth – created a lead of 1:17 at the start of the bell lap. Zaferes was racing superbly just a few weeks after her painful crash at WTS Stockholm. With too big of a lead to worry about losing the World Championship short of a catastrophic collapse, Duffy made no effort to put some time on Zaferes as she only needed to finish 7th or better to cinch her second straight World Championship.
Olympic 2012 gold and 2016 silver medalist Nicola Spirig, four months after the birth of her second child, was riding 11th, 3:07 back of the leaders at the beginning 7th lap.
After the 40 kilometer bike, Duffy led Learmonth and Zaferes by 1 second with the chasers Stimpson, Joanna Brown, Alice Betto, Kirsten Kasper, Rachel Klamer, Taylor Spivey, and Summer Cook all 1:29 to 1:30 back. Ashleigh Gentle, who came into the Grand Final second in WTS points, led the second chase pack at 3:05 down.
Starting the run, Duffy and Zaferes broke out to an early lead. By the end of the first run lap, Duffy broke away to an 11 seconds lead over Zaferes and 41 seconds on Learmonth. Kasper led the strong running chasers at 1:49 back, followed by Stimpson and Cook (+1:54), then Joanna Brown (+2:01), Klamer (+2:05), Betto (+2:13), Spivey(+2:23), and Gentle (+3:22). Spirig was cruising in 13th, 3:32 behind the leader.
Duffy arrived at the halfway point of the run in 16:39 for the first 5k, a Jorgensen-esque 33:08 pace if maintained for the full 10k. Zaferes trailed Duffy by 26 seconds and Learmonth trailed by 1:19 – 54 seconds ahead of Kasper, 1:11 ahead of Stimpson and Cook. Gentle, moving fast, worked her way up to 11th, 3:31 behind Duffy, 2:12 behind Learmonth, and 1:18 behind Kasper.
After 3 laps of the run, Duffy led Zaferes by 44 seconds and Learmonth by 1:49. With 2.5 kilometers to go, Learmonth had a 46 seconds lead on Kasper, 1:15 on Joanna Brown, 1:16 on Summer Cook, 1:17 on Klamer and 1:24 on Stimpson. Gentle, firing on all cylinders, was just 1:45 behind the leader.
After a race-best 33:35 run and a large margin of victory, Duffy now can consider herself the competitive equal of Jorgensen – except for Jorgensen’s Olympic gold.
World Triathlon Series Grand Final
September 16, 2017
S 1.5k / B 40k / R 10k
1. Flora Duffy (BER) 1:58:39 - $30,000
2. Katie Zaferes (USA) 1:59:34
3. Jessica Learmonth (GBR) 2:00:56
4. Kirsten Kasper (USA) 2:01:28
5. Joanna Brown (CAN) 2:01:46
6. Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) 2:01:59
7. Rachel Klamer (NED)
8. Jodie Stimpson (GBR)
9. Summer Cook (USA)
10. Jolanda Annen (SUI)
11. Andrea Hewitt (NZL)
12. Alice Betto (ITA)
13. Nicola Spirig (SUI)
15. Taylor Spivey (USA)
2017 WTS Series Points Rankings
1. Flora Duffy (BER) 5200
2. Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) 4320
3. Katie Zaferes (USA) 4302
4. Kirsten Kasper (USA) 3819
5. Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 3774
6. Jessica Learmonth (GBR) 3281
7. Joanna Brown (CAN) 3181
8. Rachel Klamer (NED) 3103
9. Jolanda Annen (SUI) 2748
10. Summer Cook (USA) 2554
12. Taylor Spivey (USA) 2475