There can be no doubt WTS Leeds belonged to Flora Duffy from Bermuda. Heading into the fourth leg of the World Triathlon Series in Leeds, fresh from her win in Yokohama she would be the one to beat, but no-one could guess how much she would dominate the race.
Britain’s Jess Learmonth took the lead early in the 1.5km swim, which took place in the Roundhay Park Lake, with Non Stanford 18 secs behind at the end of the first swim lap. She would hold and extend this lead through the second lap, and exited the swim first, with Flora Duffy in fourth, and Non Stanford in 18th, about a minute down.
Always a strong cyclist Learmonth set out on the bike leg with a mission to prove, however this lead was short-lived as on hearing how far back Stanford was, she decided to hold back to help get Stanford back into contention.
Flora Duffy then made her move and before the first bike lap was over she was part of a leading group of four that included Alice Betto (Italy), Maya Kingma from The Netherlands and Taylor Spivey from USA.
This group meant business and increased their lead every lap, from 01:05 after the first lap to 02:30 by the time they headed into T2. This was an incredible lead over the chase group, which included Stanford and Learmonth, and the chances for a Brit making a podium finish were looking slim.
Heading into the run Flora Duffy had to be the favourite, and within minutes she dropped Betto, Spivey, and Kingma – the cycling leg having really taken its toll. Kingma would then be dropped and it looked like silver and bronze positions would be fought between Betto and Spivey, with Spivey proving to be the stronger runner. Betto would take third and be the first Italian to make a WTS podium.
“It felt amazing,” says Spivey. “I worked really hard trying to keep up with Flora, but it was worth it!”
“It was a perfect race,” says Betto.
A phenomenal run from American athlete Kiirsten Kasper saw her overtake Kingma to get into fourth, and would end the race as the leader of the series. A great performance on the run by Learmonth left her in 6th place, her best WTS finish.
But the day would belong to Duffy and her campaign to retain her world championship title is very much on…