Flora Duffy is on the brink of winning her second straight ITU World Triathlon Series title after another dominant victory in Stockholm on Saturday.
The Bermudian is guaranteed to repeat her title with a seventh place or higher finish at the WTS Grand Final in Rotterdam on September 16 after recording her fifth win of the season in the Swedish capital.
There was speculation that Duffy might not compete in Stockholm to save herself for Rotterdam, with 1˝ times the points on offer. However she decided to race to give herself as much of a cushion as possible in her attempt to win a second straight WTS title.
“I had five pretty good scores before today, but you never know what is going to happen,” Duffy told the WTS website after her victory. “With the Grand Final being points-and-a-half, you kind of want to go in there with the biggest buffer that you can to make sure you can absolutely give yourself the world title.”
Duffy won in Stockholm in a time of 2hr 0min 9sec. She was a mammoth 1min 21sec ahead of Jessica Learmonth, of Britain, who came second in 2:01:30 for her first WTS podium. Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle was third in 2:01:42.
“I was very happy with today to execute a solid race in the swim, bike and run,” Duffy said. “My swim has been a little shakier this year, so it was nice to come out third behind Jess [Learmonth] and Lucy [Hall, Learmonth’s fellow Briton], it was a perfect position. And then on to the bike, we were hammering on that first lap to create a gap and that kind of set the race up perfectly.”
Duffy is now only the second woman to record five first-place finishes in a season, after American Olympic champion Gwen Jorgensen.
The 29-year-old, who has not finished lower than second in races she has competed in this season, now stands on 4,000 points, with Gentle in second place overall on 3,507 points and Andrea Hewitt, of New Zealand, third on 3,224.
Duffy was among the leading triathletes after the swim, with Learmonth and Hall, in a time of 19:13 and broke away on the bike with Learmonth and Katie Zaferes, the American who was third overall before the race.
However, events took a dramatic turn, with Zaferes crashing inexplicably rounding a tight corner on the third lap on her bike, putting her out of the race.
Duffy and Learmonth both finished the cycle in 1:04:52, but the Bermudian turned up the heat on the run, with a time of 34:45 with Learmonth managing only 36:05.
Gentle managed to gain some ground on Duffy overall in the run, with a race-best time of 33:27, but events in the Netherlands in three weeks’ time look a mere formality for the island’s reigning champion.