Joanna Brown Fights into Top-10 at World Triathlon Series in Bermuda
Tyler Mislawchuk battles through cramping to finish middle of the pack in historic men’s race
HAMILTON, Ber—Joanna Brown took on the top female triathletes in the world on one of the most difficult triathlon courses on the planet as the World Triathlon Series rolled into Bermuda for the first time ever, and she delivered a solid 10th-place finish.
Coming off a bronze-medal finish for Canada at the Commonwealth Games three weeks ago, the 25-year-old Brown posted her first top-10 of the season with a time of 2:07:38.
“I’ve been pretty tired since the Commonwealth Games. I had a really stressful buildup to the race in the Gold Coast, and I felt that I put a lot into that result,” said Brown, who also had a fractured shoulder just seven weeks ago after a serious bike crash at the season-opening WTS race in Abu Dhabi.
“Training has gone well since returning from Australia and I’ve been slowly building up my swim volume as my shoulder continues to heal and I get more range of motion. Coming back from the two fractures has taken a lot of mental energy, and I feel that I’m just starting to build back up to where I can truly be. I’m happy with the result considering the last four months that I’ve had. I need to keep the rubber side down.
“With the Olympic qualification just around the corner, I want to put Canada in a good position to maximize our Olympic spots. I know I’m not even close to peak fitness right now I’m really proud to put up a good fight today.”
The Carp, Ont. resident was poised to take advantage of the rough waters alongside the Bermuda peninsula but didn’t have the swim strength to maintain pace with the leaders for the entire two-lap, 1.5-kilometre swim in the Atlantic Ocean.
Climbing out of the swim in 23rd spot, the fifth-place finisher at last year’s Grand Final took control of the second chase group on a punishing 40-kilometre inner city bike course that pitted women against a relentless 17 per cent grade hill 10 times.
“That hill was awesome. I wish it had been a touch longer, but maybe not for 10 rounds. There was a crowd lining the entire hill, and some soca music going so it was a great vibe. The cheers and the enthusiasm from the crowd got me up every time,” said Brown, who made her way into the top-10 four times last year. “It felt like there was a headwind coming from every direction today.”
With Bermuda’s Flora Duffy dropping the field for their own sightseeing tour on her hometown streets, Brown pumped her way up Corkscrew Hill and past Bermuda’s stunning vistas to set herself up for a solid run. The lone Canadian in the field hopped off the bike in second transition two minutes behind Duffy.
Much like the bike, Brown maintained a steady pace running in the front of a group of six athletes that included World Triathlon Series Leader Rachel Klamer, for most of the 10-kilometre course which tested athletes limits once again with a short hill, and quick decent, that winded down towards the grand stands and transition area.
Tactically pacing herself, Brown steadily picked her way up the leaderboard until she engaged in a sprint finish at the end of a monster of a course where she locked up the last spot in the top.
“It was a tough day all around. The course was really honest, and it took a lot of focus,” said Brown. “The run had a good steep hill in it, which I loved. Just enough to sting the legs a bit every lap. I think the strongest athletes in all three disciplines shone today.”
It was a strong showing by the Canadian, but the day belonged to Flora Duffy. The Queen of Bermuda sport redefined wire-to-wire victory. Coming out of the water just in front of American Kirsten Kasper, the two frontrunners hopped on their bike saddles out of first transition and rode together past main billboards with Duffy’s face on them towering above her home streets until facing Corkscrew Hill for the first time where Duffy said good-bye to the field and never looked back.
Waiting all her triathlon life for a chance to compete in a WTS race at home, the Commonwealth Games champion destroyed the field, riding solo on the bike and the entire run where she was able to create a gap of more than two minutes on the next closest chasers. Flashing a ear-to-ear grin once hearing the bell for the final lap, Duffy raised the sunglasses to the top of her forehead and took it all in – waving to the thousands of screaming fans that were lined four-deep around the 2.5-kilometre run course while cruising to the finish line.
Duffy clocked a golden time of 2:01:39.
Vicky Holland, of Great Britain, and American Katie Zaferes, ran shoulder-to-shoulder in a foot race for the final two spots on the podium. Sprinting down the blue carpet, it was Holland who grabbed the silver medal in a photo finish time of 2:03:35. Zaferes climbed onto the bronze-medal step of the podium, also clocking in at 2:03:05.
Tyler Mislawchuk Disappointed with 24th Place Finish in Historic Men’s Race
Tyler Mislawchuk battled through cramping that hit him 100 metres into the challenging Olympic distance race course in a men’s race that will go down in the history books in Hamilton, Bermuda.
The 23-year-old, of Oak Bluff, Man., completed the 1.5-kilometre swim, a punishing 40-kilometre ride on the bike and 10-kilometre flat run through the city streets to finish with a time of 1:58:28.
“Tyler is disappointed because we set ourselves very high standards. This was a race course that suited his characteristics and he was looking for more today, but his body was cramping all day,” said Jono Hall, head coach, Triathlon Canada’s National Performance Centre. “We will analyze the race and work out what we would do differently, but this was a very tough race. It was windy, and a great number of athletes were toasted before the end.”
The Oak Bluff, Man. Olympian impressed in the early part of the race. Coming out of the water after the first of the two-lap swim, he was in 24th spot. Diving back into the Atlantic, Mislawchuk climbed nine spots on the field before charging into second transition.
The lone Canuck in the field settled into a large pack of riders for the 10 laps on the hilly bike course. With Norway’s Casper Stornes breaking away from the field in his third climb up Corkscrew Hill, Mislawchuk bounced around in a large pack of 30 riders who were not willing to push the pace.
Riding solo in the bike of his life for 30 kilometres, Stornes never looked back. With only Denmark’s Andreas Schilling nearly a minute behind, Stornes continued to build a huge two minute and 30 second lead on the pack before heading out onto the four-lap run course.
Stornes and his Norwegian teammates were on a mission to shock the world and make history over the 10-kilometre run. Calm, composed and fit, Stornes did exactly that, capturing his first World Triathlon Series victory in just his third race ever with a time of 1:54:47.
While Schilling blew up in the first lap of the run, it was Stornes two teammates who completed the historic run by finishing second and third to mark the first time ever that any nation has swept the men’s podium in a World Triathlon Series race.
Running shoulder-to-shoulder until reaching the blue carpet on the finishing stretch, Kristian Blummenfelt ran to the silver medal with a time of 1:55:08. Gustav Iden ran to his first career podium, taking the bronze with a time of 1:55:10.