By Erin Greene on 09/09/15 at 1:31 am
Welcome to the seventh Columbia Threadneedle Rankings Report of 2015.
The Report reviews the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings and results after each ITU World Triathlon Series event to identify trends and spot interesting statistics and stories as the 2015 season develops.
With the U.S. pairing of Gwen Jorgensen and Sarah True absent from Edmonton as they prepare for the Chicago Grand Final, only Great Britain’s Vicky Holland of the 55 starters had previously stood on the top step of a World Triathlon Series podium in 2015. Another great performance from the Leeds-based athlete maintained that record, meaning that with just the Grand Final remaining only three different women have won a World Triathlon Series race in 2015.
Prior to 2015, Vicky’s best WTS result was fourth at Stockholm, achieved in 2013. She has now managed three podium finishes from her four WTS races starts this year, to which she can also add third place at the Rio Test Event. Despite being one race short of her full quota to score pre-Chicago points, the quality of Vicky’s results has moved her up to fifth place in the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings.
Consistency, quality and improvement can also be applied to Edmonton silver medal winner Flora Duffy. More used to the sunshine of Bermuda, Flora’s second place in the cold and wet Canadian conditions represents her best ever WTS finish and her second podium of the year following third place in the season opener in Abu Dhabi. She now has a 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th place finish this year – she would certainly like to complete the set with a Grand Final victory!
Perhaps the most emotional finish of the day was from Australia’s Gillian Backhouse. Clearly at home in Edmonton, Gillian also won the silver medal in the World Under-23 Championships here 12 months ago. Having not previously cracked the top-10 in six previous WTS starts, Bronze certainly represents a significant breakthrough for her. It also means a 20 place move up the rankings to 23rd position. Her post-race joy was a highlight of the triathlon year so far.
Gillian headed a strong performance from the Australian women overall too. With Emma Moffatt (7th) and Ashleigh Gentle (8th), that’s the first time this year we have seen three Australian women in the top-10.
A key aspect of the race which is impacted by race conditions is transition times. Over the previous eight races, the average time between the fastest and slowest bike-to-run transition (T2) was less than 10 seconds. In Edmonton the difference between fastest and slowest T2 was more than 40 seconds, as athletes dealt with cold hands struggling to unclip cycle helmets and trying to put on wet shoes with numb feet.
One of those impacted was 2013 World Champion Non Stanford. Her T2 was 35 seconds slower than the race best of Germany’s Anja Knapp, who led on to the run course and would finish fifth, just three seconds ahead of Non! While that may be a frustration, Stanford can take comfort that her 16:52 run time was the fastest of the day by a full 22 seconds, showing she has excellent fitness and form before the Grand Final, which is also a Great Britain Olympic selection race.
Gwen Jorgensen will certainly start in Chicago as the odd-on favourite to retain her World Championship title, and with 4000 points to her name she could not have put herself in a stronger position. With a 300 points lead over Katie Zaferes, a top four position would guarantee her the title, even if Zaferes were to win in Chicago. While Jorgensen has not finished anywhere other than the top of the podium in 2015, she knows that she will have to perform one more time to ensure that she remains on the top step of the podium when the World Championship medals are awarded.
It’s been three years coming, but South Africa’s Richard Murray earned his second career World Triathlon Series win after holding off a very determined Javier Gomez over the 5km run. His first win was in Hamburg in 2012. That victory was over the Sprint distance too and also included having to hold off Javier in the final meters.
Richard’s countryman Wian Sullwald, World Junior Champion in 2012, took sixth position in Edmonton which was a huge result for him, having never previously finished higher than 15th. That’s the second time this year that the South African men have earned two top-ten finishes in one event, having also achieved that in London courtesy of Murray and Henri Schoeman.
It has been quite a fortnight for the reigning ITU World Champion and current Columbia Threadneedle Rankings leader Javier Gomez. Always an exceptionally busy and consistent racer, he’s raced three major international races over three distances with three podium finishes in three consecutive weekends. Gold at World Triathlon Stockholm over the Olympic Distance was followed by bronze at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships and now Silver over the Sprint Distance in Edmonton.
While Javier continues to lead the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings, Mario Mola was able to close the points gap with his third place in Edmonton. That was Mario’s fifth podium finish in the 2015 World Triathlon Series and now means that he sits 225 points behind Javier, ahead of the Grand Final. Were Mario to win in Chicago, Javier would also need to finish on the podium in order to take a record breaking fifth ITU World Championship title. Mario also has one other interesting statistic: he’s the only man to have raced all nine WTS events in 2015.
Another ‘Mr. Consistent’ of the 2015 season has been France’s Vincent Luis. Edmonton was his fifth race of the year and after four previous podium finishes he added fourth place in Canada. Now in third position in the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings, he is only 52 points behind Mario Mola and still in contention for the World Championship title. The top four finishers in Edmonton also hold the top four positions in the rankings with once race remaining, with Murray and Luis pushing Fernando Alarza down to fifth from third, the position he held since Cape Town.
We now look forward to the culmination of the 2015 World Triathlon season, the Chicago Grand Final, September 18th-19th, when we’ll get to see who will be crowned the 2015 ITU World Champions. Will Gwen Jorgensen and Javier Gomez be able to defend their titles, or will there be a change at the top in the final race of the year?
This report is brought to you by Columbia Threadneedle Investments, Global Financial Services partner of the ITU World Triathlon Series.
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Find more details about this event - 2015 ITU World Triathlon Edmonton