Running/Triathlon

Duffy closes in on title repeat

  • Runner-up Duffy, left, douses  winner Gentle in champagne after the Australian beat the Bermudian and the ITU World Triathlon Series event in Montreal (Photograph by Wagner Araujo/ITU Media)
  • Flora Duffy at the ITU World Triathlon Series Montreal on August 5, 2017 (Photograph by Wagner Araujo/ITU Media)
  • Flora Duffy at the ITU World Triathlon Series Montreal on August 5, 2017 (Photograph by Wagner Araujo/ITU Media)
  • Flora Duffy at the ITU World Triathlon Series Montreal on August 5, 2017 (Photograph by Wagner Araujo/ITU Media)
  • Flora Duffy, left, with winner Ashleigh Gentle, centre, and third-placed Andrea Hewitt at the ITU World Triathlon Series Montreal on August 5, 2017 (Photograph by Wagner Araujo/ITU Media)
  • Flora Duffy at the ITU World Triathlon Series Montreal on August 5, 2017 (Photograph by Wagner Araujo/ITU Media)

Flora Duffy lost an ITU World Triathlon Series race for the first time this season, when she finished second to Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle in Montreal on Saturday. However, she extended her overall lead in the series by a huge margin.

The Bermudian is now 654 points in front of the competition in the overall rankings, after being just eight ahead before Saturday’s race. Duffy, who is chasing a second consecutive title after winning the title in 2016, is on 3,940 while Gentle moves up from fourth to second overall on 3,286. American Katie Zaferes, who was second overall, drops to third on 3,192 points after finishing ninth in Montreal.

Duffy missed the first two races of the season, in Abu Dhabi and on Australia’s Gold Coast, with a hip injury, but roared back to win the next four — in Yokohama, Leeds, Hamburg and Edmonton. However, Duffy was not able to make it five in a row after losing by just 23 seconds to the 26-year-old from Brisbane, who won for the first time in the series.

Gentle won the 1.5-kilometre swim, 40km cycle and 10km run in a time of 1hr 59 min 4 sec, with Duffy finishing in 1:59:27. New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt, winner of the first two events, came third in 1:59:48.

Gentle broke clear at the start of the run and 29-year-old Duffy was not able to reel her back in.

Duffy told the WTS website that she was “very happy for my second place”, but “really happy for Ashleigh. I knew this was going to come at some point”.

Zaferes led after the swim, but was soon chased down after the first transition.

However, Duffy was not able to make her trademark breakaway on the bike and was further hampered by a poor second transition, which saw her having to re-rack her cycle and struggle to change her shoes.

Gentle pushed forward to a nine-second lead after the first lap of the run, although Duffy was among the chasing pack along with Hewitt and Kirsten Kasper, of the United States.

However, the Australian was able to stretch her lead after every lap, taking centre stage on the podium, and was in tears talking to the media afterwards.

“I had so many things on my mind coming into this race,” Gentle said.

“I needed to focus on the little things rather than the results, and I did.

“I made it. It has taken me six years to get on top of the WTS podium, six years of up and downs, a few second places … and I finally made it.”

Hewitt moved up to fourth overall on 2,971 points while Kasper drops from third to fifth overall. She is now on 2,834 points after coming fourth in Montreal behind Canada’s Joanna Brown.

The penultimate race of the season takes place in Stockholm in three weeks before the season finale in Rotterdam, which offers 1½ times the points, on September 16.