Norway Sweeps Podium, Duffy Secures Home Victory in WTS Bermuda

by Chelsea White/ITU Media; all images by Wagner Araujo

Norway becomes first men’s nation to sweep WTS podium in Bermuda

It was an overall historical day on the island as the debut 2018 MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda saw the nation of Norway sweep the men’s podium for the first-time in WTS history. In only his third WTS elite race of his career, Casper Stornes (NOR) dominated his way to claim gold, while compatriots Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden finished off the silver and bronze to complete the sweep.

“Not when I was in the big group, but when I saw that they just let me go (on the bike) I saw I had a chance, so I just took it. I won, so I am very happy!” said Stornes on thinking if he had a chance from the beginning to win gold. “I was thinking many times that maybe I should slow down and inhale a little bit, but I just pushed on and got more time.”

“That was impressive! I thought with 90 seconds we might be able to catch him, but he was running too strong. I think we only took about five seconds in the first five kilometres, I’m so glad for him,” said Blummenfelt on the strength of Stornes’ performance.

Iden added on Norway sweeping the podium, “It was just like in training, it has been just like this all winter. We have done this almost everyday, so it is just unbelievable to do it in a competition as well. I don’t think many people thought that it was possible like four years ago, but we are here and we are ready to take the world.

Thousands of cheering fans lined the streets in Hamilton, Bermuda for the inaugural event. Despite early forecasts of rain, the weather, yet windy, was clear and eager to welcome the men kick off WTS Bermuda.

Diving into the water from a two-metre high pontoon, Henri Schoeman (RSA) caught the lead early on. USA’s Ben Kanutestayed right on his heels and the two held tight to their advantage for the complete 1.5-kilometre swim.

Schoeman exited the waters as the swim leader for the seventh time in his WTS career but had a trail of competitors right behind to carry into the first transition. Spaniard Mario Mola put himself in a strong position with only a 30-second deficit.

The Bermuda bike course was much anticipated ahead of race day with the infamous Corkscrew Hill looming over the athletes as they would have to tackle the steep hill ten times. While a large group of men bunched together that tallied every strong contender in the field, Stornes made the brave breakaway attempt on the third lap.

The bold decision deemed successful as he pushed the pace with every stride, banking on the narrow and tight U-turn parts of the course to slow the large chase pack that held captive threats such as Mola, Schoeman and Blummenfelt.

Denmark’s Andreas Schilling was the only man to try to catch Stornes, but he ultimately could not close in. However, he never returned to the chase pack and remained in the second-place position for the rest of the bike.

As the second transition approached, Stornes had built up a lead over two minutes from the large chase pack of more than 30 men. But after riding solo for more than 30-kilometres, it would be a test to see if his legs could stay fresh enough to ward off any others gunning for the gold.

Right before the transition zone, Blummefelt and Iden made a last-minute push to gain some space upon entering the run. They caught up to Schilling and within moments surpassed him while on foot.

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Still however, Stornes had a lead of about 80 seconds. His dominating risk on the bike paid off and his led was never lost. With the Norway flag in hand, he ran his way into the finish chute to claim his first-ever WTS gold and the first WTS gold for his nation.

Blummenfelt and Iden then completed the puzzle as Blummenfelt came in for the silver, while Iden took bronze to finish off the historical sweep of the podium for the first-time in men’s WTS race.

Mola had the fastest run time of the day, despite finishing just off the podium in fourth place. However, combined with his second-place finish from WTS Abu Dhabi, Mola became the new 2018 Series leader.

Another strong performance of the day came from Mexico Rodrigo Gonzalez, who with a fifth-place result from a strong run, earned his highest WTS finish of his career.


Flora Duffy is hometown hero with WTS Bermuda win

Flora Duffy (BER) could not have asked for a better race scenario as a sheer dominating performance captured her the 2018 MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda crown in front of thousands of cheering fans. The gold earned on home soil was her first WTS win of the season and first for the inaugural event as she won with a marginal victory of 96 seconds in the first Olympic-distance race of the season.

“I don’t think this moment is going to sink in for a while, but what I will say when it does is that this will probably be one of the highlights of my career. I mean this is incredible, the streets were lined, and it was just a phenomenal atmosphere, it was incredible. It was hard for me to control my emotions throughout that whole 10km, but with like 9.5km to go I just thought I need to smile and celebrate and soak this in,” Duffy said of her hometown-hero win.

Collecting the leading position in the swim, bike and run, Duffy’s win also meant she became the first woman in WTS history to win a race after being the leader in all three disciplines, which included a 40-kilometre solo bike ride.

“That wasn’t my plan, I wanted to get a small breakaway, that is why I pushed in the swim. Going up corkscrew I wasn’t really sure where everybody was, I knew Kirsten (Kasper) was there, I attacked it because that was my plan and I thought she would come with me, but she didn’t. So I thought, well I guess I am going 40km solo,” she added.

Second place then went to Great Britain’s Vicky Holland after she won in a photo-finish sprint on the line with USA’s Katie Zaferes who then took the bronze.

Holland said of the dramatic sprint, “I just found out I came second, I could not have told you at the finish. We were waiting five minutes to find out who it was to see who came second. I think all credit to Katie (Zaferes) she pulled me around a lot on the run. I had a bad transition, it took me a lap to catch her and then after that I just sort of tucked in and tried to hold on. This was my first Olympic distance in over 11 months and I wasn’t sure how I would fair on the second half, so I really just let Katie do the work and prepared myself for a sprint.”

The women’s race directly followed the men, however with the headliner of Duffy being the hometown hero, the crowds for the women seemed to double in size. With the sound of the horn, the women dove into the water to get WTS Bermuda underway. Three women however, Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR), Lisa Perterer (AUT) and Cecilia Perez (MEX) would be forced to serve a 15-second penalty in the first transition after a false start off the pontoon.

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It took no more than mere seconds for Duffy to get ahead in the water. Kirsten Kasper (USA) also was among the top and remained alongside Duffy for the 1500-metre two-lap swim. Duffy held onto her lead and exited as the swim in the front, collecting the swim leader title for the first time in a WTS.

Gliding through a swift first transition, Kasper and Duffy headed out together onto the bike course, however it quickly became clear for Kasper that Duffy wasn’t going to mess around for this race on her home turf. She pushed the pace and by the time the two got to the corkscrew hill, Duffy lost Kasper, who then was forced to wait for a chasing pack to catch.

Duffy then continued pushing on in a solo ride, an effort that resulted in her tackling a 40-kilometre bike course with a challenging hill ten times over without any help. The help for Duffy did find itself in the local crowd however, as the cheers went crazy for their very own Bermudian as she continued to conquer.

Although the main chase pack had strength in numbers with the likes of Zaferes, Holland, Jodie Stimpson (GBR), Kasper, Alice Betto (ITA), Maya Kingma (NED) and Taylor Spivey (USA), the continued to lose time each lap and Duffy entered T2 with a lead of over 1:20.

The Series leader entering the race, Rachel Klamer (NED) unfortunately did not feel at 100% and ended up in the second chase group trailing by over two minutes.

Once through T2, Duffy did not slow down even on the run. She held firm to her lead and gave her country a reason to rejoice as she ran the full 10-kilometre run unscathed. She entered the finish chute with Bermuda flag in hand and secured the hometown win.

“I just want to say thank you to every Bermudian that came out to support. It was incredible and as I said, this is an absolute highlight of my career and I love that all sorts of people were out here whether they knew what triathlon was a year ago or not and they were celebrating. It was an amazing moment for me and my sporting career, it was incredible!” Duffy said of the amazing support from Bermuda during the race.

Second place then came down to a battle between Holland and Zaferes, who broke away from their cycle group. While Zaferes had the slight edge for the majority of the run, right in the final moments Holland pushed back and caused a sprint finish at the line. A photo finish confirmed that the silver went to Holland and Zaferes would get her first WTS podium of the season with the bronze.

Zaferes said “I am so excited to be on the podium, I mean this race wasn’t exactly an easy one. I was fighting from the start of the swim, it just did not feel good. I just am so happy to be on the podium.”

USA’s Kasper finished fourth in the day, added with her fourth-place finish from WTS Abu Dhabi she became the new overall Series leader.

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