It might have taken her six years to get back on top of a World Triathlon Series podium but Andrea Hewitt (NZL) now has two from two to start the year after she claimed the 2017 Jewel World Triathlon Gold Coast title in Australia on Saturday.
While her first victory of the year came from an epic sprint to the finish on the blue carpet in Abu Dhabi just over a month ago, her second victory came through outrunning her competition from the second transition, on the first sprint distance course of the season.
“I knew my running was good and that is why I went out at that pace, but you never know how the race is going to go and today I just ran a 5k at my pace and it was good enough to be out in front, so I am really happy,” Hewitt said of her day’s performance.
The win also came after the Kiwi had just celebrated her 35th birthday the week prior to race day.
“Last week was my birthday, but age is just a number isn’t it? It just all comes down to the training, today my swim and bike wasn’t up there but then I had the legs on the run so that is just how triathlon goes,” Hewitt said.
Taking the silver medal was Australia’s own Ashleigh Gentle, who with the podium also met Triathlon Australia’s qualification criteria for a team spot for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. The Games will also be hosted in the Gold Coast at the same venue, and the first official medal awarded at those Games will be at the women’s triathlon event.
“It feels really good, I guess for me a huge goal of mine moving on from Rio was to one day show up to a one-day race where you have to show up and perform and I did that today so I am really happy,” Gentle said. “It’s a sprint race, it is so fast from the get-go and it is something I have not had much confidence in before so I am really happy that I was just able to take what the swim was, get on the bike and work hard. And once it came down to a run race I wanted to go out hard and see if I can hold on.”
Finishing with the bronze was Japan’s Juri Ide, who made a comeback to the WTS podium for the first time since 2014.
With the sunny venue, the Gold Coast made for the perfect backdrop to debut the first sprint distance race of the season. With the wind providing a few extra waves, the one-lap 750metre swim left little time to fall behind.
Spaniard Carolina Routier once again led out of the water and into the first transition. While many were right at her feet, Hewitt fell behind and exited about 30 seconds down alongside Great Britain’s Jodie Stimpson.
Onto the bike, a small group of ten women formed after a swift transition. However after the first lap, Stimpson once again came from behind and pulled a larger group with her to form the lead pack tallying around 30 women. The U.S. once again put forth a strong showing as up to six women were among the lead group, including Katie Zaferes, Kirsten Kasper, Taylor Spivey, Renee Tomlin, Sarah True and Summer Cook.
While the large group pedaled on, it included some strong contenders such as Gentle, Ide, Charlotte McShane (AUS) and Ai Ueda (JPN).
The group of 30 carried into the second transition, which caused a busy and hectic zone. But it was Hewitt who wasted no time as she gunned out of the gate and blew into the lead, a lead she never lost. Almost effortlessly Hewitt held onto her stride and finished onto the blue carpet, this time with a little more ease to take home her second straight WTS victory.
While the five kilometre run saw Gentle and Ide neck and neck, it was Gentle who pushed at the end to gain the silve ahead of Ide in Bronze.
Behind in a rush for fourth, Zaferes, Tomlin, Ueda and Kasper came trailing in behind.