Vicky Holland’s tenacity paid off at the AJ Bell World Triathlon Leeds, where she achieved her first Series victory for three years. Overcoming challenges along the way, she surged ahead of the field to claim victory in Leeds sun-drenched Millennium Square. Georgia Taylor-Brown achieved a break-through silver medal and Tom Bishop was the top British male in sixth.
Jess Learmonth lead out of the swim and was the strongest cyclist on the climb out of Roundhay Park. She was joined by Taylor Spivey and Katie Zaferes (USA), who raced into town and were met with roars of noise from huge crowds. Vicky Holland had finished just behind the leading swimmers and was unable to catch them in the early stages after having issues with a cycling shoe.
She rode into town with Jodie Stimpson, Sophie Coldwell and Georgia Taylor-Brown all forcing the pace. Stimpson was unfortunately stopped in her tracks by a puncture but the hard work of the rest of the group saw them catch the leaders.
Coldwell took up the front running but wasn’t able to hold on once Taylor-Brown and Holland both passed her, but for a few minutes there were dreams of a British podium sweep.
Claiming the top spot, Holland said: “It was one of those days where I had a fantastic start, but I went on to the bike and my legs wouldn’t move. I started to enjoy it when I pulled away.
“It’s been nearly three years since I won a big race and I wasn’t sure that I would ever stand on top of a big podium like this again.”
Taylor-Brown won her first ever ITU World Triathlon Series medal and commented: “I knew that I would have to work hard in the swim and on the hill straight out of transition. I worked to gain positions with Sophie as we worked together well as a team.”
She added: “It’s a bit surreal when you’re racing alongside well-known names in the sport. At one point it was me, Sophie and Vicky leading, and the crowd went crazy.”
Learmonth finished ninth and Coldwell was 12th.
The men’s race started badly for Grant Sheldon, who withdrew after the swim. Jonathan Brownlee was already up the road with a lead group heading into town, but when he arrived there, it was clear that he wasn’t putting his usual level of energy into keeping the group away from the chasers behind.
The chase group, which featured proven runners, Richard Murray (RSA) and Mario Mola (ESP), caught the leaders during the city laps. This brought Tom Bishop back into contention, but Brownlee lost a minute by the time the run started. He attempted to run but dropped out in discomfort from a stomach bug and was taken for medical checks.
Bishop ran really well to achieve a similar result to last year when he was fifth. He said: “I’m happy with how it went. The relay race on Thursday added to my confidence. It was hard, but that’s how I like it, you have to anticipate more about what is around the corner. The British crowd were really supportive and that really helps.”
Murray claimed gold, with Mola second and Vincent Luis third. In excess of 60,000 spectators supported triathletes of all levels across the weekend.
The AJ Bell World Triathlon Leeds took place on 9 and 10 June and was organised by British Triathlon, in partnership with Leeds City Council, UK Sport and the ITU.