Canada’s Paula Findlay outsprinted Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins by 4 seconds to take her third straight 2011 ITU World Championship Series victory at Kitzbuhel Sunday.
The 22-year-old from Edmonton hit the line on the tough, hilly course in the Austrian Alps in 2:05:52 and earned her record 5th career WCS victory thanks to a race-best 34:54 closing 10k run on a day that mixed sunshine, rain and hail. Findlay’s 5th win broke her out of a tie with Emma Moffatt for most wins in the three-year history of the WCS.
"I'm just thrilled again, that was a really hard race," Findlay told ITU media. "I have so much respect for Helen, I really didn't think I could stay with her, I was running at maximum the whole way."
Jenkins, the 2008 ITU World Champion, made a brave bike breakaway with 2008 Vancouver ITU World Championship co-conspirator Sarah Haskins, but after pulling out to a 35-seconds lead on the chase pack, the two surrendered to the pack by lap 4 of 6.
While Haskins was tapped out after that effort and faded to 15th on the run, Jenkins dug in with a lead run pack of 5 and was the last to surrender to the formidable Findlay with just 200 meters to go after a second-best run of 35:00.
Jenkins gave her all, but in the end Kitzbuhel was her second straight runner-up finish to Findlay.
"After Madrid, I knew I wasn't going to beat her over the last 400m and over the last 2.5km I was just really trying to push on and break her, and I could see she was working," said Jenkins to ITU media. "But in the last few hundred meters I just couldn't catch her."
Jenkins had second thoughts about the point when she and Haskins gave up their breakaway and joined the pack that contained Findlay. "I'm happy with second," she told ITU media. "[But] I wish I hadn't waited now. But it's racing you had to give it a go. Sarah (Haskins) is so strong and I thought we could get there. I'm just happy with the run, I felt awful on the first lap, but came good."
The breakthrough performance of the day was by American Sarah Groff, who beat two-time ITU World Championship Series champion Emma Moffatt of Australia by 4 seconds to take 3rd, 31 seconds behind Jenkins with a tied-for-third-best run of 35:27. Kitzbuhel was Groff’s first-ever WCS podium. Groff also seems to have taken the lead among American women, as her 7th place finish at Madrid topped Laura Bennett by one place and on this day the 29-year-old also topped Bennett ‘s 6th place effort by three places and 17 seconds.
“I just had fun today and I’m really happy things are going so well because I had a really rough time last year with injuries,” Groff told ITU media as she boasted the biggest smile of the day, ear-to-ear 15 minutes after crossing the line.
Moffatt, slowly regaining her 2010 form after two sub-par starts, tied Groff for third-best run with 35:27 but fell out of the lead pack of runners with a lap to go. Near the end, Moffatt came back strong and charged after Groff, but fell 4 seconds back at the line and took 4th. Barbara Riveros-Diaz of Chile, after a 2nd at Sydney and a 5th at Madrid, placed a solid 5th, 10 seconds back of Moffatt and 3 seconds ahead of 6th place Laura Bennett. .
After her three straight wins, Findlay leads the 2011 Dextro Energy Triathlon Series Rankings with a perfect 2400 points. Barbara Riveros-Diaz is second with 1912, followed by Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand 3rd with 1685, Laura Bennett and Helen Jenkins tied for 4th with 1548, Emma Moffatt is 6th with 1261, and Sarah Groff 7th with 1186,
Dextro Energy World Championship Series
June 19, 2011
S 1.5k / B 40k / R 10k
1. Paula Findlay (CAN) 2:05:52
2. Helen Jenkins (GBR) 2:05:56
3. Sara Groff (USA) 2:06:27
4. Emma Moffatt (AUS) 2:06:32
5. Barbara Riveros-Diaz (CHI) 2:06:41
6. Laura Bennett (USA) 2:06:44
7. Ai Ueda (JPN) 2:07:00
8. Erin Densham (AUS) 2:07:03
9. Svenja Bazlen (GER) 2:07:10
10. Nicky Samuels (NZL) 2:07:11
11. Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 2:07:13
12. Kate McIlroy (NZL) 2:07:16
15, Sarah Haskins (USA) 2:07:37
35. Jillian Peterson (USA) 2:09:21