Gwen Jorgensen of the U.S. survived the toughest test during her 11-straight WTS victory streak, sprinting away from Great Britain’s Vicky Holland with half a kilometer to go to win the Hamburg round with a 5 seconds margin of victory.
Holland, who won WTS Cape Town (the only round this year when Jorgensen took a race off), gave her U.S. rival a tremendous fight, not succumbing to Jorgensen’s initial attempt at a pass halfway through the 5-kilometer run through streets echoing with the cheers of a quarter million fans.
Running elbow to elbow through 4 kilometers, Holland made a brave surge to a slight lead with 800 meters to go. A few seconds later, Jorgensen answered with authority, finishing with a race-best 15:44 run that overcame Holland’s 8 seconds advantage at the start of the run. Jorgensen crossed the line in 57:08 with a 5 seconds advantage on Holland, who ran a 2nd-best 15:57 split.
Jorgensen acknowledged that Holland’s stubborn refusal to surrender to her dominating run was a new experience this year. “I was thinking, ‘When do I kick? What do I do?’ Vicky really pushed me. She was there on my shoulder and I knew it was going to be a fight to the end.”
Holland was pleased with her challenge. “I thought I was closer than anyone got to Gwen this year,” said Holland. “I was working hard on the last 1500 meters. I was on my limit and I was waiting for her kick. As we rounded a turn I made one move and had a little gap because I had a bit more speed down a small the hill. Then she took it. You can never underestimate her.”
Non Stanford, the 2013 WTS World Champion, showed she was back on form after more than a year lost to injury, winning a race-long duel for the final spot on the podium with Sarah True of the U.S. Stanford’s 16:04 run split overcame True’s 2 seconds lead at T2 to finish in 57:24 with a one second margin on True.
After four WTS runner-up finishes, Katie Zaferes fell off the podium with a 6th-place finish in 57:43, 5 seconds behind 5th place finisher Rachel Klamer of Netherlands.
As the Columbia Threadneedle WTS season rankings only count the best 5 results and Gwen Jorgensen has won all six of her starts, she leads the points chase by an unassailable margin. After Hamburg, Jorgensen leads with 4000 points, followed by Zaferes (3645), True (2951), Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand (2910), and Holland (2126).
Carolina Routier of Spain led the swim in 9:43, followed closely by Margit Vanek of Hungary, Sarah True of the U.S., Sophie Coldwell of Great Britain, Gwen Jorgensen of the U.S., and Rachel Klamer of Netherlands. Key threats lurked behind including Cape Town WTS winner Vicky Holland of the UK in 11th, 12 seconds down, Katie Zaferes of the U.S., 22 seconds down in 14th, Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand 16th, 24 seconds down, and Renee Tomin of the U.S. 27th, 32 seconds back.
Discouragingly far back were Ashleigh Gentle of Australia, and Kirsten Sweetland of Canada (back after months lost to an intestinal parasite).
Anja Knapp of Germany took charge early on the bike, leading a pack of 13 that included Gillian Backhouse of Australia, True, Routier, Klamer, Annamaria Mazzetti of Italy, Holland, and Vanek. Jorgensen stood 12th, just 3 seconds arrears. After two laps, Stanford was 20 seconds down in 14th, leading the chasers who included Andrea Hewitt, Erin Densham, Katie Zaferes, Jodie Stimpson, Vendula Frintova, Anne Haug and Tomlin.
By the 5th of 6 bike laps, the chasers caught the leaders, making a front pack of 26. Sitting in 10th and 11th were True and Jorgensen just 3 seconds arrears. Hewitt, who led the chasers’ charge, was 13th, 4 seconds down, followed by strong runners Non Stanford 14th, Katie Zaferes 21st, and Densham 21st. Not making the push to the lead pack, Sweetland, Tomlin, Haug and Gentle remained out of contention in a sprint format, 40 seconds back.
After the T2 crush, Rachel Klamer of Netherlands led at the start of the run, followed closely by Backhouse, Holland, Knapp, True, Hewitt, then Germans Laura Lindemann and Rebecca Robisch, and Stanford. As is her habit, Jorgensen calmly took her time in transition, emerging 9 seconds down in 16th place while Zaferes started her run in 21st, 10 seconds arrears.
Near the end of the first run lap, True and Stanford led a group of four with Jorgensen and Holland right on their shoulders. Zaferes was 7th and Hewitt 8th, 14 seconds back of the leader.
With 2km to go, True and Stanford went inside as Jorgensen and Holland kept to the line and took the front. Unlike any other race this year, Jorgensen did not pull away as Holland stuck close into the final kilometer, and True and Stanford battled one another for bronze. Holland made a brave surge with 800 meters to go, but Jorgensen shut her down and won her 11th in a row. Stanford outran True for 3rd, Klamer took 5th and Zaferes finished 6th.
July 18, 2015
S 750m / B 20k / R 5k
1. Gwen Jorgensen (USA) 57:08
2. Vicky Holland (GBR) 57:13
3. Non Stanford (GBR) 57:24
4. Sarah True (USA) 57:25
5. Rachel Klamer (NED) 57:38
6. Katie Zaferes (USA) 57:43
7. Laura Lindemann (GER) 57:48
8. Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 57:52
9. Annamaria Mazzetti (ITA) 58:00
10. Rebecca Robisch (GER) 58:11
11. Kristen Kasper (USA) 58:18
28. Renee Tomlin (USA) 59:12
32. Kaitlin Donner (USA) 59:20
Images © Karsten Täschner / slowtwitch.com