The ITU WTS points race is on, with just 3 races left on the calendar this year: Stockholm, Edmonton, and Chicago. We’re already all excited about Chicago, and now marginally more excited about Edmonton, since it’s in Canada, and Simon Whitfield is from Canada, and we all now have huge crushes on Simon Whitfield. But first, Stockholm. After all the drama in Rio over the water quality/doomsday giardia infections, I feel like we should identify something to worry unnecessarily about for Stockholm. So, here’s hoping no one comes back with Stockholm Syndrome, and that no one gets lost in Ikea. But if you do go to Ikea, please bring me back some of those GRÖNSAKSBULLAR. Thanks.
While doing some pre-race internet reconnaissance, I found myself helpfully directed to the Stockholm Triathlon home page, written in what I’m sure is eloquent and prosaic Swedish. With the help of Google Translator, I figured out that WTS Stockholm is a “SOLD OUT! MOTION CONTEST!” and that although online registration is closed, they’ve dug up “about 100 extra places available for purchase in our Expoby booth at the wharf.” By the time you’re reading this, it will unfortunately probably be too late to get to the Expoby booth at the wharf. Maybe next year.
The serious details:
Some of the best ITU athletes will swim, bike, and run through the heart of Stockholm, with a cobblestone-lined bike course to keep things interesting, a new swim course this year (one big loop, one baby loop), and two transition areas, one of them on an uphill. Sarah True, reigning Stockholm champion, will try to defend her title after securing her spot on the Olympic team at the Rio test event earlier this month. Katie Zaferes will be right alongside True, with Gwen sitting this one out. Wild forum speculation has surrounded the late entry of Nicola Spirig – the 2012 Olympic gold medalist – who could pose a major threat out there. Javier Gomez is probably the favorite in the men’s race with his current #1 world ranking.
Without further ado…
The World Triathlon Series took over Stockholm in style on Saturday, with the women’s race going off bright and early (at least here in Eastern Standard Time). With the first lap of the 2-lap swim down, Americans Katie Zaferes and Sarah True were already at the front in spots 1 and 2, with Spain’s Carolina Routier following 6 seconds back. Zaferes was first out of the water in 19:37, with True and Routier right behind her. The chase pack, just over 20 seconds back, included Anja Knapp (Germany), Alice Betto (Italy), Andrea Hewitt (NZ), Rebecca Robisch (Germany) and Vendula Frintova (CZE). Nicola Spirig was off the lead by 48 seconds coming out of the swim, leading chase pack #2.
Zaferes and True continued to lead on the bike, with Flora Duffy riding up to make it a threesome at the front. A 12-woman chase pack followed 15 seconds behind. Zaferes seemed to be struggling for a bit to keep up with True and Duffy as they pushed the pace, while Spirig had also moved up into the first chase group. With a bit over 3 laps to go, the chase group had caught up to the 3 leaders to make a pack of 15. Duffy attempted to break away several times unsuccessfully, and with the pack together coming into the bell lap, it would all come down to the run.
Even T2 presented a challenge – requiring athletes to push their bikes up a small hill – and then the leaders were out on the run, with Spirig taking an early lead and Zaferes running up through the group to join her. The lead pack whittled down to 10 (including True, Zaferes, Spirig, Gillian Backhouse, Hewitt, Duffy, Erin Densham, Emma Jackson) until the women hit The Hill – and just like that, the group split. True moved out in front, taking Hewitt, Duffy, and Zaferes with her, and continued to dominate that hill on each lap. Halfway through the run, Hewitt wasn’t letting True run away with the title just yet; 6 seconds behind the top 2, Zaferes and Densham were together for spots 3 & 4. Coming down to the bell lap, True had started her breakaway, with Hewitt now +7’’, Zaferes in 3rd +19’’ and going strong, and Densham in 4th +26’’. Spirig and Duffy were still shoulder-to-shoulder in 5th and 6th, 35 seconds off True’s lead. Sarah True crossed the line 1st, claiming back-to-back WTS Stockholm wins, while USA teammate Katie Zaferes successfully powered up past Andrea Hewitt to take the silver medal. In the end, Spirig (5th) couldn’t outrun Duffy (4th), but the pair overtook Erin Densham (6th) in their battle to the finish.
- Sarah True (USA) 2:01:05
- Katie Zaferes (USA) 2:01:19
- Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 2:01:26
- Flora Duffy (BER) 2:01:51
- Nicola Spirig (SUI) 2:01:55
***Listen for an interview with Sarah True on this week’s TRStriathlon.com podcast! We’re sure she’ll reveal how you, too, can win WTS Stockholm twice.***
Stay tuned for the men’s race recap tomorrow…
Day 2: Gomez Goes for Gold
The Men’s Race
On a balmy 77-degree Sunday morning, the swim start got off…well, swimmingly, with Aurelien Raphael (France) on the feet of Henri Schoeman (South Africa) during the first lap. Schoeman went through lap 1 in the lead, while pre-race favorite Javier Gomez Noya sat 22 seconds back. Schoeman held on through the last 500m, coming out of the water first in 19:23. Aaron Royle (AUS), Francesc Godoy (SPA), and Aurelien Raphael were not far behind coming into T1. Choppy water and a non-wetsuit swim spread the men’s field out a bit, but as we’ve seen in most ITU races recently, a large lead pack quickly formed on the bike course.
A 20-man lead pack – including Schoeman, Anthony Pujades, Godoy, Raphael, Alessandro Fabian, Dmitry Polyanskiy, Dorian Coninx, & Tommy Zaferes – rode together over the cobblestones, putting 30 seconds on the chase pack early on. After lap 1 of 9, Tommy Zaferes led a group of 24, alongside strong cyclists Royle and Kristian Blummenfelt. With each lap, the
lead pack men took turns at the front, putting another 10 seconds on the chase group each time around. Just past the halfway mark, the lead group had whittled down all the way to 22 men – with the chase group 1 minute back.
Team USA cheered as Tommy Zaferes led the way into the run start, with Javier Gomez Noya 1 second behind – finally making the move to the front that everyone had been waiting for. Also on Zaferes’s heels out of T2 were Raphael, Schoeman, and a trio of Aussies (Royle, Fisher, Bailie), and the rest of the lead pack stampeding behind them – again, the race would be decided by who had the most juice left in their legs on the run. Gomez, looking to claim his first Stockholm win, tried to take off early on, but Royle and Pereira stuck to him like glue, with the top three putting 11 seconds on 4th and 5th (Schoeman & Bailie). Royle and Pereira couldn’t hang on to Gomez forever, though – an absolutely dominating run performance took him 23 seconds ahead by the halfway point. Royle and Pereira paid for their early efforts as Schoeman and Bailie caught up to them, leaving the foursome in contention for silver and bronze. Bailie was the first to fall off the pack, while Gomez Noya – in a league of his own today – ran to his first WTS Stockholm victory, keeping him in contention to be the first athlete with 5 ITU World Championship titles. Pereira pushed up the final hill to take the silver medal, with Royle finishing 3rd 8 seconds behind him.
1. Javier Gomez Noya (ESP) 1:49:33
2. Joao Pereira (POR) 1:50:18
3. Aaron Royle (AUS) 1:50:26
4. Henri Schoeman (RSA) 1:50:36
5. Ryan Bailie (AUS) 1:50:42