Two Americans Race to Top-10 Finishes in Beijing
September 11, 2011 (Beijing, China) – USA Triathlon National Team standouts Laura Bennett and Sarah Groff finished fifth and 10th, respectively, Sunday at the Grand Final of the 2011 ITU World Championship Series. With her effort, Groff earned a spot on the overall series podium thanks to a fifth top-10 finish of the seven-race series.
Bennett (Boulder, Colo.) registered a time of 1 hour, 59 minutes, 2 seconds for her top showing of the 2011 WCS and a fourth top-10 effort this season. Groff (Hanover, N.H.) grabbed 10th in 2:00:36 to secure the No. 3 spot in the final series rankings and mark the best-ever showing by an American in the three-year history of the series.
Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand was Sunday’s winner in 1:58:27, just ahead of Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins, who locked up the overall series title.
As is the norm on the WCS circuit, Bennett and Groff were among the first five swimmers out of the water. They joined a pack of 16 strong cyclists that pushed the pace early on the bike to gain separation on the rest of the field.
The lead pack held strong throughout the 40-kilometer bike and carried an advantage of more than a minute onto the run. “It did pan out the way we wanted it to. We really worked well together on the front and got a good gap on the second pack for the run,” Bennett said.
Bennett quickly charged out of T2 and ran with Hewitt and Jenkins for much of the first 5k before falling slightly off the pace. She was part of a chase pack of five athletes over the final two laps of the run and finished strong to grab fifth. “It’s just nice to actually show the fitness level I have on the day, so it was a positive race,” said Bennett, who rebounded from a 24th-place finish in London last month.
Groff held off a trio of Aussies for 10th and the third spot on the series podium with 2,783 points, 23 more than Australia’s Emma Jackson, who finished 12th Sunday in Beijing.
“It’s nice to know that consistency pays off,” said Groff, who finished in the top 13 of all seven WCS events. “I’m absolutely honored to be on the podium with two such phenomenal athletes.”
Groff enjoyed a breakthrough season on the WCS circuit, which included five top-10 finishes, the first-ever WCS podium for a U.S. woman in Kitzbühel and a seventh-place effort in London to clinch a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team. “I just wanted to finish in the top 10 this year. I thought that would have been a pretty big goal,” said Groff, who was surprised by her series podium finish. “Points wise, I didn’t even know this was possible.”
By virtue of her fifth-place effort Sunday, Bennett finishes eighth in the final series rankings. Gwen Jorgensen (Milwaukee, Wis.) stands 11th in the final rankings, and the U.S. is the only nation with three women in the top 11.
The seven-race WCS is a key proving ground for the United States’ top triathletes aiming for a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team. In addition to racing for WCS points, athletes also will be looking to earn points toward securing a spot for their country at the 2012 Olympic Triathlon in London.
Beijing Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series Grand Final
1,500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run
1. Andrea Hewitt (NZL), 1:58:27
2. Helen Jenkins (GBR), 1:58:39
3. Melanie Annaheim (SUI), 1:58:58
5. Laura Bennett (Boulder, Colo.), 1:59:02
10. Sarah Groff (Hanover, N.H.), 2:00:36
55. Jillian Petersen (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 2:07:38
2011 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series Final Rankings
1. Helen Jenkins (GBR), 4023
2. Andrea Hewitt (NZL), 3836
3. Sarah Groff (USA), 2783