After a mistimed swim start that left her at the back of the field, Vicky Holland of Great Britain roared back on the bike and the run to win her third World Triathlon Series race of the season by a 22 seconds margin of victory over Katie Zaferes of the U.S. at Montreal
Holland, whose career highlight has been a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, emerged from the swim with a 49 second deficit to swim leader and fellow Brit Jessica Learmonth. Holland then followed Nicola Spirig of Switzerland to chase down the leaders and join the front pack after the 4th of 9 laps on the bike leg. Holland then maneuvered herself to the lead the pack at the finish of the bike leg. After a careful transition that dropped her to 5th exiting T2, she quickly assumed the lead.
Falling 60 meters behind Holland and lagging in 5th place at the start of the run, Zaferes was in danger of losing her WTS season points lead. But Zaferes engaged a higher gear and passed three Brits - Learmonth, Georgia Taylor-Brown and Jodie Stimpson – to maintain her points lead.
Holland recalled her dismay at her swim start. "I looked across and everyone was gone,” Holland told ITU Media. "And on the second lap of the swim, I went off line a bit and ended the second lap a bit tired.”
Holland offered thanks to Nicola Spirig and Taylor Knibb for leading the charge to catch the swim leaders on the bike leg. “Nicola and Taylor [Knibb] helped us catch up. I saw what they did last week at the Lausanne World Cup and they did the same here. So I was able to hold in there and make the front group with them.”
With her 3rd place finish, 54 seconds behind Holland, coming after a 2nd at Leeds and 3rd at Edmonton, Taylor-Brown earned her third WTS podium and vaulted from 6th to 3rd in the series points standings. “Vicky is my lucky charm, every time she does well I do too,” said Taylor-Brown. “This year I exceeded my expectations. I wasn't going to race Montreal, but after third place at Edmonton I decided to keep it going. I hope I will do well at the Grand Final.”
After a race best 34:50 10k run leg, Holland finished in 1:59:26 with a 22 seconds lead on Zaferes, who ran 35:11 to grab silver and maintain her WTS Series lead by a veritable sliver.
With 800 points for the win supplanting her previous 156 points earned with a 22nd place at WTS Hamburg, Holland sliced her WTS points deficit to Zaferes from 591 before this race to 34 going into the 2018 Grand Final three weeks hence. Because Zaferes’ weakest previous result in 2018 was 542 for 6th place at Edmonton, her 2nd place points at Montreal only added 198 points to her total.
Zaferes agreed that this was one of her best runs of the year. “Yeah it was a good run. I felt really good the entire race. As I came up on each one of the women from Great Britain, I repeated their names as I chased them - “Georgia! Georgia! Georgia!”
Last year, Zaferes lost a close duel for 2nd place to Ashleigh Gentle in the WTS series in the Grand Final at Rotterdam. She hopes she will turn the tables on her closest pursuer Holland this time around. “We will have another shootout at Gold Coast,” said Zaferes. “Last year there were very few points from 2nd to 3rd and Ashleigh beat me. I hope I come out the other side this year.”
With her victories, Holland won her third $18,000 WTS single event winner’s purse this year. Now at stake is $30,000 for the winner of the Grand Final and $83,500 for the season long WTS season-long World championship, $57,000 for runner-up and $39,200 for third place.
Underlining how close their rivalry has become, Holland and Zaferes were locked in a veritable photo finish (both women were recorded in equal 2:03:25 time) for second place at WTS Bermuda earlier this season. Holland won that day and if the 55 points she gained for her runner-up finish would have flipped to Zaferes’ advantage, the U.S. star’s WTS points lead would now be 144 points.
Were Zaferes to win the WTS season points title and the World Championship without a single victory, she would follow the example of Emma Moffatt of Australia, who won the 2010 ITU World Championship without winning a race.
After recent wins at the European Championship in Glasgow and at the Lausanne World Cup, Olympic gold and silver medalist Nicola Spirig of Switzerland showed that at age 36 she was on track to challenge for a medal at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. While she did not win, Spirig was the straw that stirred the drink in this race. She led the chase pack from a minute deficit after the swim to join the lead pack halfway through the bike leg. After her redline bike effort, she lacked the firepower to vie for the win, and settled for a 5th place outing.
U.S. rising star Taylor Knibb joined Spirig as one of the top cyclists fueling the chase pack. She briefly took the lead on one of the latter laps of the bike, then faded on the run to 9th place, 2:47 behind the winner.
WTS Montreal Women
August 25, 2018
S 1.5k / B 40k / R 10k
1. Vicky Holland (GBR) 1:59:29
2. Katie Zaferes (USA) 1:59:51
3. Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) 2:00:23
4. Joanna Brown (CAN) 2:00:39
5. Nicola Spirig (SUI) 2:00:52
6. Jodie Stimpson (GBR) 2:01:07
7. Taylor Spivey (USA) 2:01:40
8. Jessica Learmonth (GBR) 2:01:53
9. Taylor Knibb (USA) 2:02:16
10. Lotte Miller (NOR) 2:03:01
11. Chelsea Burns (USA) 2:03:06
18. Kirsten Kasper (USA) 2:05:58
19. Sophie Chase (USA) 2:06:34
25. Summer Cook (USA) 2:09:32
WTS Season Points Ranking – Women
1. Katie Zaferes (USA) 4418
2. Vicky Holland (GBR) 4384
3. Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) 3459
4. Jessica Learmonth (GBR) 3237
5. Rachel Klamer (NED) 3098
6. Jodie Stimpson (GBR) 3038
7. Kirsten Kasper (USA) 2972
8. Taylor Spivey (USA) 2820
9. Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) 2500
10. Flora Duffy (BER) 2496