Duffy leads the way in Rotterdam
Flora Duffy leads the Bermudian charge at the ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final event in Rotterdam this weekend.
With Duffy set for a glorious end to the season by wrapping up the WTS title for a second successive year, Tyler Smith and Erica Hawley will be making their final appearances at the Junior Elite World Championships in the Dutch city.
Duffy is also chasing a record sixth WTS victory this season, having equalled the record of Gwen Jorgensen, the American gold medal-winner at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro last summer, for most victories in a season.
Duffy won last month’s penultimate WTS triathlon of the season in Stockholm to give herself a massive lead over nearest rival Ashleigh Gentle, of Australia, in the overall standings.
For Gentle to catch Duffy she must win in Rotterdam and hope Duffy finishes outside the top seven.
Gentle is the only rival to have beaten Duffy this season, relegating the 29-year-old into second place in Montreal last month.
Rotterdam presents Duffy’s biggest test of the season as not only will the Grand Final feature the strongest field of the year but it will likely also see triathlon powerhouse countries like the United States, Britain and Australia who could rely on team tactics.
Their main objective will be to ensure that even if Duffy is able to break away with a small group on the swim that they utilise team tactics to reel her in early on the bike in the hope that their stronger runners can outrun the Bermudian.
Duffy will compete on the Olympic distance racecourse comprised of a 1500m swim, 40k bike and 10k run.
Her strength is on the bike, however she will have to negotiate a very technical and curvy cycle course that will challenge the athletes’ skills and experience.
There are 1½ times the usual points on offer in Rotterdam.
Meanwhile, Smith will be looking to extend his good form of late after finishing fifth among a formidable field in his previous race at Mallory Park in Britain.
The Leeds University student qualified for these championships with a 15th place finish in Magog in the South, North and Central American Junior Elite Championships.
Smith’s best showing so far this season was at June’s Junior Elite Championships in the UK where he placed third.
Hawley is in the midst of an outstanding season which saw her win the gold medal as a freshman at the University of Colorado at the US Collegiate Championships, silver at the Central American and Caribbean Junior Elite Championships and produce a solid fourth place finish at the North American Junior Elite Championships.
Hawley is now looking to build on a confidence building 16th place showing in Sweden where she held her own in an elite sprint race featuring senior professional women.
Smith and Hawley are competing on the sprint distance racecourse comprised of a 750m swim, 20k bike and 5k run.
Hawley competes on Friday, Duffy on Saturday, while Smith’s race will be held on Sunday.
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