Paula Findlay Unstoppable in impressive Madrid debut
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Canadian Paula Findlay cemented her status as triathlon’s leading lady with another stunning win, this time in the Madrid round of the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series.
Findlay has now won four of her last five Dextro Energy Triathlon Series races, including London and Kitzbühel last year and the 2011 season opener in Sydney, and that now ties her with reigning ITU World Champion Emma Moffatt for most series race wins with four. It’s even more impressive given that Findlay is yet to compete in a full season as she only started halfway through last year.
In Madrid, Findlay was in the lead pack from the start and quickly established a break with a group of three in the run and then turned on the burners in the final 200m to accelerate away from Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins and France’s Emmie Charayron – who overtook Andrea Hewitt in the final lap to take her place on the podium.
Despite her record, Findlay still said she came away surprised - particularly when she heard the news she had tied Moffatt’s record.
“No idea, oh man, I don’t even know. It’s so cool. I just respect the Emmas so much, I’m so shy around them, I just respect them so much and just every single person I race against, I’m so star struck at the pre-race meeting every time so it’s really really so cool to be running with them, so being on top of the podium is really really cool,” she said.
“I can’t even describe it, it doesn’t feel it like it at all, I still feel like an underdog every time I come into these races and I am still starstruck by seeing the Emmas and everyone, so it’s just amazing to be winning them. I’m very happy.”
The swim in Madrid started in the same way as it did at the season opener in Sydney, with Laura Bennett setting the pace, the only difference was that Findlay – along with Hewitt – was right on her tail. There were two packs at the start of the bike, but they quickly became one and it was that lead group of 16 that set up the race from there. That group that included Findlay, Hewitt, Jenkins, Barbara Riveros Diaz and Lisa Norden, had a consistent 30-second gap on the first chase group – that was being led by Daniela Ryf, Annabel Luxford and Moffatt and took that into T2.
But coming in the run, it was clear that Findlay meant business and she surged to the front straight away – first with Hewitt by her side. Jenkins and Riveros Diaz quickly bridged that first gap and the four ran together for the next few kilometres until Riveros was dropped. It was then Findlay, Jenkins and Hewitt for the majority of the 10km run, Hewitt was dropped on the final lap and was quickly caught by Charayron – who had completed an amazing run through the field to make it onto the podium. With about 400 metres to go, Findlay started to stride away and held off Jenkins for her second consecutive win.
It was the second consecutive Madrid podium for both Charayron and Jenkins, in 2010 Jenkins finished third and Charayron second behind Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig.
Jenkins was happy with her silver, particularly after cuts from a bike crash in the opening round in Sydney became infected and put her out of training for two weeks in the lead-up, but said she just couldn’t hang on to Findlay.
“I managed to catch back up to Andrea and Paula and I was really suffering then, I was kind of hanging on and my legs weren’t feeling great and I knew that Paula was going to push on stage so I just wanted to hang with her, but I just couldn’t keep up, she was just too good over that last 400 metres,” Jenkins said.
Charayron was happy with her efforts, that saw her move through the field with ease and posted a run split of 34 minutes, 38 seconds.
‘I’m very pleased because I had an injury during the winter and the first series in Sydney was very hard, so I’m pleased to have another medal like last year,” she said.
In other notable results, New Zealand had two athletes in the top six, with Hewitt and McIlroy, while reigning Olympic champion Emma Snowsill couldn’t get much closer to the leaders than her first round race in Sydney. Snowsill lost time in the swim again, and finished 21st.
In the overall rankings, Findlay has extended her lead in the series, Riveros Diaz stays in second place and Hewitt third. Bennett is in fourth and Jenkins moves up into fifth place.
Related Event: 2011 Dextro Energy Triathlon - ITU World Championship Series Madrid
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