With a masterful race at WTS Leeds - one step higher than her breakthrough second at Yokohama - Maya Kingma of the Netherlands vaulted into a pre-race favorite’s role at the Tokyo Olympics.
After Kingma and Great Britain’s Sophie Coldwell and Jessica Learmonth broke away on the bike leg to a 2-minute lead, top four chasers including Flora Duffy of Bermuda, Spivey, Vittorio Lopes Portugal and Ironman master and WTS rookie Lucy Charles-Barclay of Great Britain needed a miracle to crash the party for a place on the podium. Despite a race-best 33:47 run split by two-time WTS World Champion Flora Duffy, Kingma’s 3rd-best 34:59 run brought her to the finish in 1:54:26 with an 11 seconds margin over Learmonth, and 19 seconds over 3rd place Sophie Coldwell – with Duffy taking 4th place, 40 seconds behind Coldwell.
“I can’t believe it!” Kingma told ITU media. “I had a very good swim, even though I was on the other side of the pontoon. I tried not to think about what could happen, but it was just all according to my plan, just like Yokohama,” said Kingma. “We just pushed and pushed. I was so happy to be with Jess and Sophie on the bike. I felt pretty strong and at some point I thought the group behind us could chase us [down], but then we won back time. I am just so surprised. On the run I told myself that I had to try to leave Jess behind in the last kilometer on the downhill… I tried and it worked.”
“Leeds is always good,” said Jess Learmonth. “They have changed the course this year but it is still solid. A podium here in my hometown!”
“I’m speechless,” Coldwell told ITU media. “Other years here I felt like I had missed an opportunity, so do it today with my friends and family here was fantastic. “I know I’ve been delivering components separately but I struggled to put them together in the past. I’m just over the moon right now.”
In an impressive performance for a WTS Olympic distance rookie, a far cry from her long course specialty, Lucy Charles-Barclay closed with a 6th-best 35:07 run to edge Taylor Spivey by 10 seconds for 5th place.
In a subplot of keen interest to U.S. fans, Taylor Spivey placed 6th and top American at Leeds which makes her the most likely to be named to the final slot for the U.S. women’s Olympic team.
With Summer Rappaport earning the first slot to the U.S. women’s Olympic team with a top American finish at the Tokyo Olympic test event in 2019, and Taylor Knibb earning an automatic slot with her win at WTS Yokohama three weeks ago, the third and final U.S. women’s Olympic slot will be chosen by USA Triathlon officials by June 15.
Coming into Sunday’s contest, Spivey’s 4th place at Yokohama was just one position away from an automatic selection. Leeds was an apparent last chance for 2019 ITU World Champion Katie Zaferes and hopeful Kirsten Kasper to regain pre-pandemic form and earn Olympic consideration. However, Kasper finished 15th and Zaferes finished 18th and all bets would seem to rest on Spivey.
WTS Leeds Women
Leeds, Great Britain
June 6, 2021
S 1.5k / B 40k / R 10k
1. Maya Kingma (NED) S 18:23 T1 1:04 B 59:43 T2 00:18 R 34:59 TOT 1:54:26
2. Jessica Learmonth (GBR) S 18:20 T1 1:08 B 59:43 T2 00:21 R 35:08 TOT 1:54:37
3. Sophie Coldwell (GBR) S 18:24 T1 1:06 B 59:40 T2 00:20 R 35:17 TOT 1:54:45
4. Flora Duffy (BER) S 19:01 T1 1:12 B 1:01:06 T2 00:20 R 33:47 TOT 1:55:25
5. Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR) S 18:19 T1 1:20 B 1:01:45 T2 00:21 R 35:07 TOT 1:56:49
6. Taylor Spivey (USA) S 18:27 T1 1:03 B 1:01:49 T2 00:14 R 35:30 TOT 1:56:59
7. Beth Potter (GBR) S 18:59 T1 1:09 B 1:02:50 T2 00:19 R 34:04 TOT 1:57:19
8. Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA) S 19:05 T1 1:13 B 1:02:41 T2 00:27 R 34:06 TOT 1:57:29
9. Laura Lindemann (GER) S 19:06 T1 1:08 B 1:02:41 T2 00:21 R 34:56 TOT 1:58:09
10. Carolyn Hayes (IRL) S 19:40 T1 1:17 B 1:01:54 T2 00:17 R 35:10 TOT 1:58:15
15. Kirsten Kasper (USA) S 19:03 T1 1:14 B 1:02:36 T2 00:26 R TOT 1:58:47
18. Katie Zaferes (USA) S 19:32 T1 1:10 B 1:02:11 T2 00:22 R 35:48