Katie Zaferes is aiming to copy Flora Duffy’s blueprint by adopting an aggressive approach to the women’s elite race in MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda today.
Duffy, who is missing the race because of a long-term foot injury, demolished the rest of the field on the packed streets of Hamilton during a masterclass performance last year, with Zaferes intending to use elements of the Bermudian’s successful strategy.
The American said she plans to be “assertive from the get-go” as she looks to build on her dominant victory in the season opener in Abu Dhabi last month.
“I hope to take some notes from Flora’s race last year,” Zaferes said in a press conference at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club yesterday.
“I’m just going to try and race really aggressively, hopefully have a good swim, and really push the bike from the start and make people really work if they want to race with me. That’s my plan right now.
“I’d like have a better swim than last year and get out faster to make sure I’m connected the front group or the leader, or be the leader myself.
“What I saw from Flora was just how much commitment she had in those first couple of laps of the bike.
“I think that made a huge difference for the rest of the race. She just kept growing and growing the gap. Watching her do so well last year was just so motivating and inspirational.”
Zaferes has steadily climbed the overall WTS rankings since she started competing in 2013, moving up a place each season since 2015 and finishing second behind Vicky Holland, of Britain, last year.
“I attribute my improvement to maturing as an athlete,” she said. “I started in 2013 and had never really done triathlon before. I have a great coach and team around me and we’ve just been working consistently over the years. I haven’t changed anything drastically and each year I get better, stronger and faster.”
Despite the absence of Duffy, Zaferes believes the field is actually stronger this time around, with the addition of British pair Jessica Learmonth and Non Stanford, as well as Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle.
“Not having Flora has a big impact on the race, but there’s quite a few really strong athletes who are going to make it just as hard,” said Zaferes, who came third last year after being pipped to the finish by Holland in an all-out sprint.
“I don’t know if Duffy’s absence is a relief; I was so sad because she was so dominant last year and I wanted to be like ‘just get close to her’ and now she’s not there. It kind of feels empty not having her race.”
The 29-year-old admits that wearing the golden swim cap, reserved for the leader of the series, having won in Abu Dhabi, will bring added pressure.
“I try not to focus on that,” said Zaferes, whose husband Tommy Zaferes is competing in the age group race.
“There’s definitely the pressure of having the No 1, but at the same time, I know my focus has to be on a particular thing like how I what to race and what I need to do in each discipline.”