Getting stronger as the season went on, Sarah True of the U.S. posted the day’s fastest run to surge away to a 14 seconds margin of victory over fellow American Katie Zaferes and 21 seconds over Andrea Hewitt at the Stockholm round of the World Triathlon Series.
True’s victory was her second straight at Stockholm and comes after her crucial 4th place finish at the Olympic test event in Rio, earning her second straight Olympic starting slot.
True picked up her first WTS victory of the year with a time of 2:01:05 and defended her 2014 WTS Stockholm title.
“Stockholm is a beautiful city, a beautiful place to race,” said True. “I came back here wanting to give last year justice and I am pleasantly surprised.”
True ran a perfectly balanced race, emerging from the swim 2nd just 4 seconds behind fellow U.S. star Katie Zaferes, finished the bike leg 9th, just 2 seconds behind Flora Duffy, and capped off her day with a race-best 33:14 run. That run broke her out of a duel with Andrea Hewitt and was 9 seconds faster than Zaferes’ second-best 10k run.
“There were some really strong women out there today,” said True. “I credit Katie (Zaferes) for pushing hard on the swim and Nicola (Spirig) for putting her head down and pushing all of us on the bike and early on the run.”
Zaferes was happy with her 5th runner-up finish this year. “It was very tough today,” said Zaferes. “I made it harder on myself by coming out last of the lead pack in T2. I had to gut it out to catch Andrea. I didn’t feel good but I wanted to do it. I am so proud for Sarah – she had such a strong race here and at Rio. We have such a strong team.”
With just the Grand Final in Chicago next month remaining, U.S. women stand 1-2-3 in the WTS rankings – an unprecedented dominance since Australian women finished 1-2-3-4-5 at the single-day 1999 ITU World Championship. Gwen Jorgensen, who took the weekend off, was a perfect 6-for-6 in WTS races this year, and leads the points chase with 4000 points. Zaferes, who has 5 second place finishes in WTS races this season, stands second in the series with 3700 points. True, whose WTS point totals include this win, a 2nd, a 3rd and two 4th place finishes, stands 3rd with 3322 points.
Katie Zaferes and Sarah True broke out front on the first 750 meter lap. Zaferes held on for a 19:37 split to lead out of the water after the 2 lap, 1500 meter swim, followed closely by True and Carol Routier of Spain. Flora Duffy trailed by 30 seconds and 2012 Olympic champion Nicola Spirig of Switzerland was 48 seconds down starting the bike.
Duffy quickly closed the gap and joined Zaferes and True, with Routier falling back. After 3 laps, Zaferes was struggling to keep up with True and Duffy. Still, True and Zaferes maintained a 17-seconds lead. On lap 4, Spirig caught the chase pack and started to push to cut down on the 17 seconds deficit. By lap 5, the chase pack caught the leaders to form one large pack of 15. By lap 6, Flora Duffy took the lead again, followed closely by True, Zaferes, Gillian Backhouse of Australia, Hanna Philippin of Germany, Rachel Klamer of Netherlands, Spirig, and Erin Densham of Australia, with Emma Jackson of Australia 14th, 3 seconds off the lead. The chase pack was by then 2-plus minutes down and out of the running for the podium.
On lap 6, Duffy made a charge to the lead and gained 100 meters but could not shake the rest and settled back into the group. Also on lap 6, Gillian Backhouse of Australia took a turn at the front, followed by Hanna Philippin of Germany with Duffy, True, Zaferes, Hewitt Spirig and Anja Knapp of Germany in close formation. When the bell lap rang, True led the pack of 15, all bunched within 2 seconds.
Coming into T2, Duffy led followed closely by Backhouse, Spirig, Philippin, Hewitt, Rebecca Robisch, Densham, Klamer, and True with Zaferes rounding out the leaders in 14th.
Duffy, who did most of the work on the bike, led out of transition, with Spirig, Backhouse and Klamer right on her heels. Within a few hundred meters, Spirig took the lead, followed by True, Aussies Emma Jackson and Erin Densham, Duffy, Zaferes and Backhouse.
For most of the first lap, a lead pack of 10 stayed close together, led by True, with Duffy, Spirig, Hewitt, Zaferes, Densham, Klamer, Philippin, Robisch and Jackson all within 2 seconds.
After 5km, the outlines of the contest started to form. True was looking steady running out front with Hewitt, with Zaferes 6 seconds back and Spirig, Philippin, Duffy and Emma Jackson trailing the leaders by 12 to 13 seconds.
Midway through the third 2.5km run lap, True and Hewitt surged away to a 60 meters lead. Then True broke the string, increasing her gap on Hewitt to 15, 25 and then 40 meters. Approximately 100 meters behind the two leaders, Zaferes and Densham were engaged in a duel for the final spot on the podium. But by the end of lap 3, Zaferes broke free to a 7 seconds lead over the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist.
On the final lap, True opened up a 150-meter, 21 seconds gap on Hewitt, while Zaferes, seemingly refreshed, was taking dead aim on the New Zealander. With 1km to go, Zaferes pulled within 3 meters of Hewitt, then Hewitt rallied and held on for a few more meters before Zaferes made one final surge.
At the finish, True’s race-best 33:14 run brought her to the line with enough of a lead to touch hands in the finish chute and soak in the cheers. True’s 2:01:05 time gave her a 14 seconds winning margin on Zaferes, who closed with a next-best 33:23 run for the silver. Hewitt took the final spot on the podium, 21 seconds behind True.
Duffy, showing continued improvement, closed with a 34:03 run to take 4th, 4 seconds ahead of the Olympic champion. Spirig, racing just a few weeks after a marathon, did not have her 10k legs but ran 34:07 and held on for 5th place.
August 22, 2015
S 1.5k / B 40k / R 10k
1. Sarah True (USA) 2:01:05
2. Katie Zaferes (USA) 2:01:19
3. Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 2:01:26
4. Flora Duffy (BER) 2:01:51
5. Nicola Spirig (SUI) 2:01:55
6. Erin Densham (AUS) 2:02:02
7. Hanna Philippin (GER) 2:02:07
8. Rachel Klamer (NED) 2:02:18
9. Emma Jackson (AUS) 2:02:30
10. Rebecca Robisch (GER) 2:02:42