Flora Duffy ran to victory for the fourth time in Hamburg. The current Olympic and World Champion stormed the field and passed Beth Potter (GBR) in the last 300 meters for the win, despite having to serve a 10-second penalty. Germany’s Lisa Tersch crossed the finish line in third place.
Twenty years ago in 2002, Hamburg made its debut as host of the world’s best triathletes. The tradition continued this year as 55 of the greatest females triathletes lined up for a day full of triathlon action over a sprint-distance course featuring a 750m swim, 21km bike, and 5km run.
From the starting gun, American swimming phenom Summer Rappaport took the lead. The pack stretched behind her, with Vittoria Lopes (BRA), Sian Rainsley (GBR), and Jolien Vermeylen (BEL) attempting to stay in touch with the leader.
The leaders out of the water were quickly joined on the blue carpet by Flora Duffy (BER) and a full squad of German athletes — Anabel Knoll, Lisa Tersch, Laura Lindeman, and Lena Leibner — all making the front group when they jumped on their bikes.
With Taylor Spivey (USA), Maya Kingma (NED) and Zsanett Bragmayer (HUN) joining, the front group made it through the first couple of laps safely, apart from a small crash that led to Natalie Van Coeverden having to step out of the race. Despite Duffy, Kingma, and Spivey taking turns to try to open the gap with the chase group that included Beth Potter (GBR) and Summer Rappaport, their breakaway only maintained its advantage into the third lap. At that point, a massive group of 38 athletes regrouped, making it quite complicated to navigate the technical course with its chicanes.
That’s when the drama in the lead had already started to play out. Flora Duffy realized that she had left her goggles out of the box, which meant that she had to serve a 10-second penalty during the run. The Bermudian started to push hard on the bike up front, but it was literally impossible to get a breakaway, so by the time the athletes finished the six bike laps, a massive group made it to the second transition all together. And Duffy knew that she had to go full gas from the beginning of the run.
That is probably easier said than done, as she was the last one of the group leaving transition. But she was a woman on a mission, the mission being to open a break long enough to allow her to serve the penalty without having to look back.
The group led by Bragmayer quickly started to stretch out, loosing individuals by the minute, and by the time they all made it through the first half of the first loop, Duffy was already leading, with Potter following close behind. When they were approaching transition, the reigning Olympic Champion decided to suddenly stop at the penalty box, still with another lap to go. She looked anxiously at the official counting the seconds and saw Potter passing by but she was out of the box right with Lisa Tersch, who by then was running comfortably in third place.
All the pressure was on Potter now, who didn’t look back but knew that Duffy was chasing her and even though she tried her best, she was just not able to avoid Duffy passing by her for a second and last time, only 300 meters before crossing the finish line, to claim the 13th WTCS victory of her career, the fourth one in Hamburg, where she raced for the first time back in 2006.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Duffy after the race, talking about the penalty. “I came into T2 and I saw that my goggles were out of the little box and I thought, ‘Oh dear!’ That really flustered me and I took forever to get my shoes on out of T2 and then Dan, my husband, shouted at me ’10-second penalty’ and I thought, wow Flora, you’re really making it hard for yourself today. I’ve never had a penalty. It’s like now I am making all these mistakes. I’ve got slow transitions. I’m getting penalties. I guess I am trying to make it interesting for myself and make it super hard to win. Dad shouted at me to take it after the first lap, I think to just have a 10-second reset and then to charge it for the last lap. But honestly, I thought I was going to come out of that penalty further back in the top-10, but I was pretty happy that I was still in second. All I had to do was chase down Beth.
“I haven’t been pushed like that on the run. I was like this cannot come down to a sprint finish so I just tried to lengthen it but I gave everything out there. Super pumped to take the win after this year, it started off so weird, two times Covid, flying to races and my equipment not making it so I am pumped to win, pumped to get myself back in the Series and I am excited for the rest of the year,” explained Duffy, who with this victory is now ranked second on the Maurice Lacroix World Triathlon Championship Series Rankings. Georgia Taylor-Brown still owns the lead despite not racing here in Hamburg.
- Flora Duffy BER 00:58:37
- Beth Potter GBR 00:58:43
- Lisa Tertsch GER 00:58:53
- Taylor Spivey USA 00:58:58
- Laura Lindemann GER 00:59:00