Increasing her 2018 World Triathlon Series gold medal tally to three, Great Britain’s Vicky Holland won her third WTS race of the season after claiming victory at the 2018 ITU World Triathlon Montreal. Winning her second Olympic-distance race of the year, the Brit advanced 805 points in the overall Series rankings after the Penultimate event to put her in a strong contention position for the World Championship Crown at the Gold Coast Grand Final next month.
Starting off on the wrong foot with a late start off the pontoon, the Brit clawed herself back in the game by catching up to the leaders on the bike, then breaking away on the run to eventually win the race.
Holland said of her rocky swim, “On the first loop I went really hard to get myself back in a pretty good position. Then on the second lap, I just got caught by the current a little bit, so I was just a bit too tired, a bit too unaware of what I was doing and so I definitely swam a little bit further than I needed to.”
Finishing second was USA’s Katie Zaferes. With her silver-medal finish, Zaferes remains the overall Series leader, however, the win from Holland tightly closed the gap between the two women in the running for the World Championship. The two will enter the Grand Final in Gold Coast, Australia only separated by 34 points, meaning that the World Crown will go to whoever finishes ahead of the other.
Holland said, “I worked out in my head this exact result with what would be the situation going into the Gold Coast, but you know I have won three races this year and that is more than I could have asked for at the start of the season, so I am delighted with that. It will all be played out in the Gold Coast and that will be a really exciting prospect.”
The bronze medal then went to fellow Brit Georgia Taylor-Brown, who also collected her third podium of the season.
The women were the first round of elites to race the WTS Montreal standard-distance course. Surrounded by thousands of fans lining the fences to witness the event, 34 women toed the start line to swim, bike and run in the French-Canadian city for only the second year in a row.
In the water, Great Britain’s Jessica Learmonth and Sophie Coldwell led the first lap of 870 metres before the field dove back into the water off the pontoon for a second lap of 630 metres. Learmonth and Coldwell kept their lead but were closely followed by USA’s Zaferes and Summer Cook.
Once onto the bike, Zaferes and the two Brits broke away and attempted to ride as a leading trio. However, Nicola Spirig (SUI) pushed the pace back in the chase group and fought to join forces with the leaders. With the help of young Taylor Knibb (USA) the two were able to bring their group up to the leading three to create a pack of 13.
The 13 women, included five Brits (Holland, Taylor-Brown, Coldwell, Learmonth and Jodie Stimpson), four Americans (Zaferes, Knibb, Taylor Spivey and Chelsea Burns) and also Spirig, Joanna Brown (CAN), Lotte Miller (NOR) and Alice Betto (ITA).
The frontrunners pushed on and created a giant gap that only increased after each lap. While a strong chase group was behind, which had names such as Ashleigh Gentle (AUS), Rachel Klamer and Ai Ueda (JPN), they could not gain any ground and entering the second transition they had a gap of about three minutes.
After a swift T2, all five British women blew out of the gate and ran together trying to get away from the other 8 athletes. Holland prevailed as the strongest of the nation as she set the pace and advanced forward.
While it looked at one point that the British women were going to sweep the Montreal podium, Zaferes set her sights on picking off the competition one by one and was able to run down four ahead of her.
Holland held a 20-second lead and was never threatened as she ran into the finish line to collect her third WTS win of the season and fourth podium of 2018. Her victory puts herself in a solid position at a chance at her first WTS World Championship title next month at the Grand Final.
Zaferes then followed suit in second and Taylor-Brown in third another 20 seconds behind.
Finishing fourth was Canada’s own Joanna Brown, who strode down the finish chute proudly flying the Canadian flag on her back with the local crowd cheering loud for her as she claimed her season WTS best finish.