Bermudian Flora Duffy earned her third World Triathlon Olympic distance World Championship with a cruise to third place at the Edmonton Grand Final.
With this 2021 season title (2016, 2017, 2021), Duffy joined Emma Snowsill (2003, 2005, 2006) as the only female three-time Olympic distance World Champions. Duffy becomes the first triathlete and only woman to win the Olympic triathlon and the World Championship in the same year. And adding her five XTERRA Off-Road World Championships, along with the 2016 ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship, Duffy has a women’s record total of 10 World Titles.
“It was a very hard race,” Duffy told World Triathlon media. “I had a pretty mediocre swim and had some ground to make up and I knew I had to try and get close before Taylor got off the front,” admitted Duffy, who outdueled elite WTS rookie Knibb making a breakthrough four years ago at Edmonton. “Once [Knibb] attacked she was gone, that was such a great performance from her today and as soon as she was gone it became more of a defensive race for me and the purpose was to win the world title and not to win the gold - although that would have been nice. I can definitely say it is hard to win the Series after the Olympics! The new blood is definitely here and they’re on fire. It was great to see Leonie on the podium and Taylor is so strong and has so much talent.”
While Duffy made history, Taylor Knibb of the U.S. made the biggest splash of the day as she broke away to an astounding 2:44 lead after the 40-kilometer bike leg, then cruised to a 56-seconds margin of victory over Leonie Periault of France and 1:24 over third place finisher Duffy.
With her jaw-dropping winning bike performance, Knibb added to her season-long total of a win at WTS Yokohama, 16th at the Olympics and silver at the Olympic Mixed Relay.
“I feel like the season is still getting started!” Knibb told World Triathlon media. “Yokohama surprised me and I felt in a really good place into Tokyo but you saw that race (16th at the individual Olympics)! So, these past two races have been a bit of channeled energy, but I’ve just been enjoying racing and trying to do so to the best of my abilities. On lap three or four I thought ‘maybe I have a flat, but no, it was my legs… but I saw I was gaining time each lap and that was motivating for me, so then I knew I had to just run to the best of my abilities.”
In a nerve-wracking sub plot, Taylor Spivey edged rival Maya Kingma of the Netherlands by 7 seconds for 5th place, and thus earning the final podium spot for the overall season rankings. Going into this race, Kingma led Spivey by a mere 9 points. With her third place season-long finish, Spivey earned a touch of solace after a heart wrenching near miss in her quest for an Olympic start.
“I had some food poisoning so I wasn’t even sure I would start today so to come away with fifth and overall podium makes me so happy,” Spivey told World Triathlon media. “These girls are so strong and really pushed me out there today. I was with Taylor Knibb and Maya out of the water and had a feeling Tayior would attack but I didn’t have that top end power to stay with her and she was so impressive making that much time on us. I did my best but it wasn’t easy for me today.”
The day started with Vittoria Lopes of Brazil leading the swim by 3 seconds over Knibb, 5 seconds over Vicky Holland and Katie Zaferes, 6 seconds over Taylor Spivey and Leonie Periault of France, 7 seconds over Kingma, Summer Rappaport of the U.S., Duffy, Sophie Coldwell of Great Britain and Laura Lindemann of Germany.
At the end of the first lap, Knibb disappeared like Wile E. Coyote and took a 34 seconds lead. Her lead grew with relentless rapidity, from 50 seconds at Lap 2, 1:01 at Lap 3, 1:50 at Lap 4, 2:09 at Lap 6, 2:32 at Lap 7, and 2:44 at T2.
On the run, all, tension fell on the chasers. Kingma surged out to lead the chasers, followed by Duffy and Periault, with Zaferes at the back of the chasers. Soon, Duffy and Periault left Kingma behind and needing 40 seconds per lap to have a prayer for a win.
Knibb doled out her big lead with calm precision. To 2:29 after Lap 1 of the run, to 2:00 after Lap 2, and 1:34 after Lap 3. By this point, Periault dropped Duffy for second place.
On the final lap, Spivey led Kingma for 4th with Sophie Coldwell and Lindemann close behind.
Zaferes made a late race charge and passed Spivey and Kingma for 4th. Near the end, Spivey made the pass on Kingma for the points she needed for 5th on the day and the bronze for the season.
Knibb, with the gold in hand, relaxed to finish in 1:54:47 with Periault just under a minute behind for silver and Duffy cruising home with bronze on the day and gold for the season.
World Triathlon Olympic Distance World Championship
August 21, 2021
S 1.5k / B 40k / R 10k
1. Taylor Knibb (USA) S 18:42 T1 1:08 B 58:44 T2 00:29 R 35:46 TOT 1:54:47
2. Leonie Periault (FRA) S 18:52 T1 1:05 B 1:01:30 T2 00:26 R 33:52 TOT 1:55:43
3. Flora Duffy (BER) S 18:57 T1 1:04 B 1:01:24 T2 00:26 R 34:22 TOT 1:56:11
4. Katie Zaferes (USA) S 19:01 T1 1:06 B 1:01:18 T2 00:27 R 34:24 TOT 1:56:14
5. Taylor Spivey (USA) S 18:47 T1 1:06 B 1:01:30 T2 00:25 R 34:30 TOT 1:56:16
6. Maya Kingma (NED) S 18:48 T1 1:03 B 1:01:34 T2 00:23 R 34:38 TOT 1:56:23
7. Sophie Coldwell (GBR) S 19:00 T1 1:07 B 1:01:19 T2 00:25 R 34:58 TOT 1:56:46
8. Laura Lindemann (GER) S 18:50 T1 1:09 B 1:01:27 T2 00:27 R 35:05 TOT1:56:56
9. Vicky Holland (GBR) S 19:05 T1 1:18 B 1:02:36 T2 00:25 R 34:10 TOT 1:57:32
10. Kirsten Kasper (USA) S 18:54 T1 1:08 B 1:02:21 T2 00:27 R 35:58 TOT 1:57:47
16. Summer Rappaport (USA) S 18:49 T1 1:09 B 1:03:04 T2 00:27 R 35:37 TOT 1:59:04
2021 World Rankings - Women
1. Flora Duffy (BER) 3861
2. Taylor Knibb (USA) 3486
3. Taylor Spivey (USA) 3239
4. Maya Kingma (NED) 3161
5. Sophie Coldwell (GBR) 2942
6. Katie Zaferes (USA) 2902
7. Leonie Periault (FRA) 2620
8. Laura Lindemann (GER) 2516
9. Non Stanford (GBR) 1982
10. Alice Betto (ITA) 1697
11. Summer Rappaport (USA) `1676
12. Kirsten Kasper (USA) 1630