By ITU on 12/04/16 at 12:40 pm
Having previewed the year ahead in the first Columbia Threadneedle Rankings Report of 2016, we now look back on two thrilling races from the second round of the season, the Jewel World Triathlon Gold Coast.
The hot temperatures were reflected in some equally scorching performances in Australia, and in this review brought to you by Columbia Threadneedle Investments, we take an in-depth look at some of the key stories and statistics from the event.
With the Gold Coast event providing the key assessment race for the final available slot in the Great Britain team for the 2016 Olympic Games, the pre-race pressure was certainly on for both Helen Jenkins (GBR) and Abu Dhabi winner, Jodie Stimpson (GBR). In winning the race in impressive style, Helen not only appears to have a third Olympic selection in her grasp, but also ended the almost two year unbeaten run of Gwen Jorgensen (USA). With appropriate symmetry, the last athlete to cross the line ahead of Gwen in WTS competition was Helen herself, when she finished second to Jodie Stimpson at the 2014 Cape Town event.
With her third career World Triathlon Series win, Helen has also improved her podium statistics to 15 from 31 starts. Having raced since the beginning of the Series in its current format since 2009, a career podium strike rate of almost 50% is exceptional consistency over eight seasons from the two-time World Champion.
While she may have (finally) been toppled, it is a little early to be calling the end of #Gwensanity just yet! Though second this time after 12 consecutive World Triathlon Series wins, Gwen Jorgensen (USA) still produced the fastest run split of the day, and her silver medal extended her lead at the top of the ‘most career WTS podiums’ to 19 from 32 appearances. Did Gwen turn bronze into silver during T2? A hard fought sprint finish on the blue carpet saw Gwen cross the line just one second ahead of Andrea Hewitt (NZL). Interestingly, Gwen was two seconds quicker than Andrea while changing from bike to run.
After a hugely emotional year in 2015 of triumph and tragedy, there was huge warmth from everyone in seeing Andrea Hewitt (NZL) on a World Triathlon Series podium once again. The 16th time she has achieved that, she joins Emma Moffatt (AUS) – who qualified for her third Olympic Games while finishing seventh – on that figure, second only to Gwen Jorgensen. However, Andrea does have one area in which she stands at the top of the list – with 47 race starts, Andrea is the most experienced female athlete currently racing in the World Triathlon Series.
Looking across both races so far, Abu Dhabi and Gold Coast, 48 athletes have raced both events. After not finishing in Abu Dhabi, Rachel Klamer (NED) and Katie Zaferes (USA) will be pleased to have returned to form with fifth and sixth places respectively, while in terms of improvement, Lisa Perterer (AUT) stepped up 26 places from 35th in Abu Dhabi to ninth in Gold Coast. She now occupies 16th position in the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings. Flora Duffy (BER) has also earned recognition. With fourth place finishes in both Abu Dhabi and Gold Coast, she joins Helen Jenkins as the only female athlete to finish in the top ten at both venues. That consistency is reflected in her second place in the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings ahead of Discovery Cape Town World Triathlon.
While a winning streak ended in the women’s event, Mario Mola (ESP) extended his own purple patch to three consecutive World Triathlon Series victories, bringing his WTS career total wins to five. Interestingly, all three of those recent wins have come over the Olympic Distance, adding to his earlier sprint distance gold medals from London (2014) and Abu Dhabi (2015). Stronger and faster perhaps than he has been in his career to date, Mario Mola is a serious threat for both the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings and Olympic Gold.
Despite the rare absence of Javier Gomez from the opening two rounds of the season, Spain still hold the top two positions in the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings thanks to Fernando Alarza. Fourth in Abu Dhabi, a silver medal in Gold Coast matched his previous career best from London 2015 and will certainly have enhanced his case to join his illustrious teammates in Rio this summer.
From looking at a certain silver medal to a contender to not finish the race at all in the space of a few seconds, an exhausted Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) will have been satisfied to have crossed the line for the bronze medal after a very tough final kilometre. While older brother Alistair has earned more WTS wins (19) than Jonathan (10), they are now equally matched in terms of total podium finishes, with 23 each.
Gold Coast was a memorable day on home soil for Ryan Bailie (AUS). As the first Australian athlete to cross the line inside the top ten, Ryan earned his start at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. It has been an excellent start to the season for Ryan, who joins Mario and Fernando as the only athletes to have finished inside the top 10 in both Abu Dhabi and Gold Coast, with Ryan currently holding third position in the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings behind the Spanish duo.
One of the standout performances of the day was from Joe Maloy (USA). With a relatively modest previous best finish of 17th, Joe had by far his finest result to date at this level to finish sixth, just behind the Australian pairing of Ryan Bailie and Ryan Fisher. From a lowly 49th in Abu Dhabi, that was a huge step up in performance from the 30 year-old athlete. Joe now holds 14th position after two races in the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings, having finished outside of the points in the first race of the year. The victory of Jarrod Shoemaker (Hamburg 2009) remains the only USA men’s podium result to date in the 59 World Triathlon Series races that have been held. Could Joe Maloy be on track to rewrite that statistic?
Find more details about this event - 2016 ITU World Triathlon Gold Coast