Gwen Jorgensen (USA) took the first-ever ITU World Triathlon Series win for an American female in thrilling fashion as she overtook Australia’s Emma Moffatt in the final mile to earn the San Diego win. The victory also gave her the title of U.S. Elite National Champion.
A group of four made up of Sarah Groff (USA), Emma Moffatt (AUS), Carolina Routier (ESP) and Pamela Oliveira (BRA) earned about a 12-second edge over the competition out of the 1500m swim. Those athletes got organized quickly out of transition and worked to build a lead on the eight-lap 40K bike course. Further back, two separate chase packs formed but with super cyclist Anne Haug (GER) in the second group, they quickly became one and that large group worked to track down the hard-working front four.
Through the first half of the bike the chasers, which included Jorgensen, failed to find any rhythm, allowing Groff, Moffatt, Routier and Oliveira to continuously extend their lead. By the start of lap five the gap stood at 37 seconds. The effort of leading out front started to show and the gap started to dwindle on laps five and six. With the chase pack preparing for the run, the lead group found their momentum again and built their biggest lead of the day over the final laps. By the time they reached T2 their advantage stood at just over one minute. Would any of the faster runners in the main chase pack be able to catch any or all of those leading four?
Groff and Moffatt immediately bridged a gap over Routier and Oliveira, as WTS leader Haug led the chase efforts out of transition. Groff appeared to build a small gap over Moffatt early on the run, but by the time they reached the end of the first lap the Australian had worked her way back up to the American and then took her turn up front. The early adrenaline of racing on home soil faded for Groff and she was unable to run back up to Moffatt.
As Moffatt worked out front, the main chase group of Gwen Jorgensen (USA), Non Stanford (GBR), Jodie Stimpson (GBR) and Haug caught Groff. Moffatt looked like she may be in position to take the win until Jorgensen started to slowly gain on her. Jorgensen overtook Moffatt in the final mile to earn the biggest win of her career in 1:59:59. Moffatt and Stanford sprinted it out for the silver position, with the young Stanford, who is also the current U-23 world champion, gaining the edge. Moffatt rounded out the podium.
“It’s extra special because it’s our national championship and it’s on home soil,” Jorgensen said at the finish line. “It was so exciting to be out there. The girls made me work for it. It was an exciting race.”
“I never really thought about it,” Jorgensen said of being a part of the chase pack. “I focused on the race, remained calm and tried to do what I know how to do.”
Stanford, believed by many to be the future of the sport, reflected on her second-place finish. “Going out to the run I knew I was going to have to work hard from the start, so I just put my head down and kept pushing on,” she told Triathlete.com. “There were a few girls putting pressure on me, but when Gwen went, I couldn’t go with her—she had a fantastic turn of pace.”
“I really didn’t know how I was going to go at a WTS event,” Stanford said of her first big-time ITU race. “The swim is much more physical as is the bike and run—the swim out there was getting really tough, we were getting battered around quite a lot. That run was really hard. I tried to put pressure on them but they were hanging on. I’m really pleased with second, I don’t think I could’ve done much better than that today.”
After doing much of the work up front on the day, Groff settled for seventh and said after the race that she believes you have to be willing to take chances in ITU racing. “I tried to do something a little different,” she explained. “It’s been a few years since I tried to go off the front. The fitness wasn’t quite there but I went for it. It was fun…and it was really not so fun after the first lap of the run, but you know, it’s nice to know we can get organized off the front, it’s just a matter of having the fitness to back it up on the run. The best athletes in the world—the Brownlees, Gomez, Jenkins, Spirig—it doesn’t matter how the race unfolds, they can dictate what happens. Eventually I want to be at that point. It might take a few years but you have to start somewhere. I wasn’t afraid to blow up and I did, but I took a risk.”
The men resume the elite action tomorrow at 4 p.m. PDT.
2013 ITU World Triathlon Series San Diego
San Diego, Calif. – April 19, 2013
1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run
1. Gwen Jorgensen (USA) 1:59:59
2. Non Stanford (GBR) +:04
3. Emma Moffatt (AUS) +:04
4. Anne Haug (GER) +:07
5. Jodie Stimpson (GBR) +:32