ITU World Triathlon Auck - American One-Two, Kiwis third
Gwen Jorgensen again stamped her class on the ITU World Triathlon Series, compiling her 6th win in succession and 2nd to start this season, backing up the sprint distance victory in Abu Dhabi with a dominant performance in Auckland at the Barfoot & Thompson World Triathlon today.
Photos - Sportzhub
It was an American one-two finish with Katie Zaferes running strongly into the silver medal position but the biggest cheer was reserved for Andrea Hewitt as the Kiwi overcame a 15 second penalty taken before the final lap of the run to surge into third, securing her first medal at the Auckland WTS event.
Simone Ackermann made it a great double for the Kiwis, the 25 year old enjoyed a career performance with a 10th place finish while Rebecca Clarke came home in 36th place, having only been given the okay to race after an MRI cleared the Aucklander of a suspected stress fracture in the days leading into Auckland.
The race threatened to be opened up early however as a group of 8 swimmers broke away to establish a 40 second lead heading out on to the bike and with Jorgensen, Hewitt, Barbara Riveros (CHI) and Lisa Norden (SWE) not in it, there was the hint of a boil over if they could work together to extend their lead.
The lead group did include two New Zealanders, with Ackermann and Clarke amongst the only 8 in the field to go sub 20 minutes over the 1500m swim.
It wasn’t to be however, with little or no cohesion amongst the group and the chase pack soon closed them down, thanks largely to a powerful ride from Norden, with Hewitt prominent near the front and Jorgensen keeping pace safely in amongst the bunch.
Once on to the run the American’s showed out with Vendula Frintova (CZE) and Hewitt the only ones able to go with them, albeit briefly with Hewitt and Frintova setting into a tense battle for the minor places, with the crowd on edge though knowing that the Kiwi would have to serve a 15 second penalty for a littering (discard) violation on the bike course.
The feisty Kiwi would serve the time with one lap to run, momentarily allowing Frintova the luxury of a 17 second lead before order was restored as Hewitt strode back on to the podium to the delight of a large and receptive crowd.
Jorgensen was imperious though, with the race essentially over the moment the chase group caught the leaders midway through the bike leg, the American’s run time of 34:10 was over a minute clear of most of the field.
“I really wanted to come into T2 with the leaders, I was happy that I could do that and to finish 1-2 it couldn’t be any better. I wasn’t with the leader out of the swim but to come into T2 with the leaders was real good.”
Jorgensen played down the impact that might have had on her opponents today – or in fact on any other day.
“I am not sure if it plays on the others minds but for me I have been able to execute with my run in the past so I just tried to get to the finish line as quick as possible and not think it beyond that. Everyone knows I don’t like the cold so it was nice that it was warm out there and I don’t mind the wet so much.”
Hewitt was delighted to finally return to the podium in Auckland. Since her win in the World Cup event in 2011 in Auckland the Cantabrian has not featured in the 3 WTS races since, until today’s bronze medal.
“That was one of goals this year was to be on the podium and I have done it here in Auckland so that is one goal ticked off. It was a tough race, I am just happy to finish so well, when I heard of the penalty on the second lap on the run I was like ‘oh no’. I knew I had thrown my gel on the bike but thought I had done it in transition but apparently it was just ‘near’ transition so it was the wrong place.
“Luckily I felt pretty good, caught back up after the penalty and went past Vendula again. I was running well but didn’t know I could get here back but had her in my sights and was able to catch back up. It is good to start the season this well.
Hewitt was full of praise for Jorgensen.
“Gwen ran so fast again, I only managed to stay with her a couple of hundred meters, she hasn’t been beaten in a while and that is one of my goals too. She is running so well and managed to stay up there on the bike today too.”
“Every hill I heard my name shouted, it was a big encouragement on the bike and on the run as well. Everyone was shouting time gaps and saying I could do it. That is actually my first penalty ever, Laurent told me on the second lap, I asked if should take it on the third lap and didn’t get an answer so that is what I did! I knew I had the last lap to catch up and that is what I did.”
In finishing third, Hewitt has met the proposed Tri NZ selection criteria (not yet ratified) to earn a nomination for the Rio Olympic Games.
Full results, CLICK HERE