Gwen Jorgensen wins ITU Yokohama, Emma Moffatt second and Jodie Stimpson third.
Japan’s Yuka Sato led the 22-strong women’s field during the first 750m as the field remained together in Yokohama Harbour, Japanese star Mariko Adachi then moved to the front in the closing stages of the wetsuit swim, stringing out the field over one minute from front to back.
Adachi was first out of the waer in 19:04 with Australia’s Emma Moffatt, Sato and Britain’s Jodie Stimpson close behind.
Moffatt was first out onto the flat but technical bike course, pushing ahead while Stimpson and Adachi chased her down. The pack was formed within the first couple of KMs with stellar runner, Gwen Jorgensen of the USA bridging up to be sat comfortably with the leading group of around 12 athletes that also included New Zealand’s Kate McIlroy, Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle, South Africa’s Kate Roberts and Ireland’s Eileen Reid.
Maaike Caelers suffered a crash early on in the bike, but leapt back aboard her steed and desperately tried to time trial up to the front. This proved to be a wasted effort however, as the chase pack, including Britain’s Katie Hewison, swallowed her up.
Hewison worked hard to keep the pace high, but with so many strong cyclists in the leading group, the chasers continued to lose time – being around 50 seconds off the pace by 20km into the 40km course.
At the end of lap 5 the chasers had made up only two seconds, while in the front pack, Moffatt dropped to the back of the group, conserving energy ahead of what was sure to be a fast run as the rain started to fall.
A crash soon occurred in the chasing group, brining a trio of riders – none podium contenders – while Hewison pulled hard on the front, now 36 seconds behind the leaders, Caelers struggling to maintain the pace after her earlier misfortune and effort to catch up but managed to get back in the small chasing group of five riders.
Ahead, Moffatt moved back to the head of the race with compatriot Gentle on her wheel, the lead group’s speed lessened slightly, the course becoming ever more slick with rain. This allowed the gutsy chasers to close the gap down to 33 seconds at end of lap seven and only 17 seconds going into the final 4.5km lap. The catch came early on in the last lap.
Kate Roberts led into T2, Stimpson the first woman out onto the run.
Moffatt soon moved up to Stimpson, who continued to lead the group for a few hundred metres before the Aussie pushed hard, the Brit the only athlete able to stick with her.
Behind they were being chased by Gentle, Caelers and Jorgensen, who was moving steadily through the field.
Moffatt and Stimpson contemned to run fast throughout the course, Jorgensen moving ever-closer, but not blitzing through the field as she did in ITU San Diego.
Going into the final 2.5km lap, the trio were running together, the podium assured but the order still to be decided.
Behind the leaders, Gentle was running hard in fourth, 21 seconds back with another 19 seconds to Caelers, who was running well despite her earlier crash.
Jorgensen ran fast off the blue carpet as the bell rang to pull ahead. Stimpson and Moffatt, who were still running shoulder to shoulder, had no answer to Jorgensen’s domineering pace.
The American continued to crank the speed up, running alone into the barriered section and back to the waterfront. Running onto the blue carpet, Jorgensen enjoyed the crow support with a line of high-fives before taking the win in 1:57:05 with a negative split 32:44 10km run.
Moffatt and Stimson sprinted for silver with the Aussie just pipping the Brit over the line, securing second by one second in 1:57:29. Stimpson claimed third, elated to take her first ever ITU WTS podium position.
Ashleigh Gentle took fourth, 47 seconds behind the winner, while Caelers’s brave race secured her fifth.