Untouchable Taylor-Brown holds on for first world title in Hamburg
There may not have been any spectators course-side, but there was no shortage of excitement in the women’s race of the 2020 Hamburg Wasser World Triathlon as Georgia Taylor-Brown powered to the line and a superb first world title. The Brit held off Bermuda’s Flora Duffy who took silver, Germany’s Laura Lindemann with bronze.
“I wasn’t confident at all”, said the new World Champion. “I did Super League Arena Games a couple of weeks ago and got some serious lung burn there. I was wondering how it was going to go, I didn’t really expect much from myself. I was grateful to be able to race again. I am quite shocked at that performance to be honest”, she explained.
Photos - ITU Tommy Zaferes
Of the 65 women who took to the start line in Hamburg, it was swim experts Jessica Learmonth (GBR) and Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA) who were quickly out front, powering their way to the first buoy and stretching the field as hard and fast as they could.
USA’s Taylor Spivey and Summer Rappaport were predictably on their heels though, Therese Feuersinger (AUT) coming through to exit the water alongside Learmonth.
Reigning world champion Katie Zaferes, 2018 champion Vicky Holland and 2016 and 2017 champion Duffy emerged together only 8 seconds off the front along with Taylor Brown (GBR) and Lotte Miller (NOR).
With the surface slightly slicked with rain, Beaugrand lost early ground on Learmonth and Feuersinger with a small bike error on the first sharp corner but was quickly back up and riding
Duffy and Zaferes were heading the chase pack looking to catch Learmonth and Feuersinger just five seconds ahead, the likes of Rachel Klamer (NED), and Laura Lindemann behind them and down 13 seconds off the leaders.
By the halfway point the front duo were caught and Georgia Taylor Brown assumed the duties out front of a large leading group of 18 athletes.
A minute back, Vicky Holland was working hard with Anja Knapp, Edda Hannesdottir and Valerie Barthelemy (BEL).
Up front, almost all the big names were looking to set up a dramatic shootout over 5km.
Learmonth was straight out alongside Flora Duffy, Katie Zaferes struggled in T2 and found herself five seconds back, leaving Duffy and Learmonth opening up an important lead over the first 500m, quickly joined by Taylor-Brown after she kicked on to join them.
Spivey, Lindemann, Klamer and Maya Kingma were holding on but were soon 15 seconds back from the front after the first kilometre as Taylor-Brown made the first move and opened up daylight behind her.
By halfway of the 5km, Duffy had pulled away into second, Learmonth was caught by Lindemann and Spivey, reigning champion Zaferes now 22 seconds off the pole position.
It was Taylor Brown wanting to dictate the race though and she looked composed with a healthy 10-second advantage into the second of two laps. Duffy was never going to give up the chase though, but as Spivey and Lindemann faded, gold and silver were sealed.
It was an impeccable race from start to finish for Taylor Brown, and she could really soak in her first world title down the final few hundred metres. Silver for Duffy was another great effort for the Bermudian beset by injury in 2018 and 2019, and bronze went to home favourite Lindemann.
Spivey held on for fourth, last years champion Zaferes finished in fifth 34 seconds back, Maya Kingma (NED) sixth. Learmonth, Klamer, Miller and Feuersinger completed the top 10.
““It just sort of happened”, said the new Worl Champion. “I felt really comfortable setting off on the run, I really enjoyed the gravel running, that’s like my kind of running. I felt really comfortable on the gravel and thought let’s just go for it”, said Taylor-Brown. “It feels weird saying that I am the Wrld Champion because it’s been an unusual year. We’re missing a few people as well. I am the world champion but in my eyes, Katie (Zaferes) is still the World Champion next year.”
Two-times world champion and now silver medallist Flora Duffy explained: “This was a huge race for me, the back half of 2018 and the first part of 2019 were really difficult. To miss most of this year because of COVID-19, it has a long time since I feel like I am in my stride and hit a podium. I am happy for personal reasons to finish second today, it was a really big step for me,” she said. “I’ve had a good progression on my run. The last few months I have been able to be consistent again for the first time in a really long time. I knew I was coming in with pretty good run form. But you know, I am a competitor and every time I line up at a World Championships I want to win so maybe there is a little sting of being that close but it is great progression and I am just so thankful we got to race safely. Georgia was phenomenal today and it’s fantastic to be back on the blue carpet.”
Racing on home soil, a delighted Laura Lindemann said: “It’s a home race and home races are always something special to me. There is always extra pressure because I perform better with more pressure, it suits me. I had really bad transitions, after each transition I had to improve my position. It was a hard race from start to finish.”