Andrea Hewitt won in a dramatic sprint over Jodie Stimpson to open the WTS season.
March 3, 2017 | NEWS|
It was an emotional finish for Andrea Hewitt, who won the season opener a year after the death of her boyfriend Laurent Vidal. The New Zealand athlete pulled through over the final meters to pass Great Britain's Jodie Stimpson in Abu Dhabi.
Routier leads the swim
Carolina Routier (ESP) did the lion's share of the work leading the women through the swim course, with Summer Cook (USA) contributing a bit of the pacing, but spending most of her time locked on the Spaniard's feet. Anastasia Abrosimova (RUS) stayed tight to the first two, while Katie Zaferes (USA) and Sarah True (USA) managed to work their way to within a few seconds of the first three by the end of the tough swim.
Early on the bike
The first chase group starting the bike included Jodie Stimpson (GBR) and Andrea Hewitt (NZL), while Japan's Ai Ueda found herself in the third chase pack.
A chase group of three including Gillian Backhouse and Alice Betto joined the front five, but that group struggled to stay ahead of the Stimpson and Hewitt group who worked really hard to get themselves to the front of the race. By the third lap of the race the first two groups were all together, forming a group of 15 out in front.
With Backhouse, Stimpson and Andrea Hewitt driving the train, the lead group gradually pulled away. By the halfway point of the 40 km bike on the famed Yas Marina Circuit (where the Formula 1 race is held) the lead group was down to 10 and had a minute on the chase group. Things didn't really change over the final half of the bike, other than the group was whittled down to nine, setting up a 10 km road race for the lead group.
Rebecca Spence (NZL) pushed hard at the front of the chase group to get the gap down to about 45 seconds, but with the likes of Stimpson, Hewitt, Rachel Klamer (NED) and Sara Vilic (AUT) out in front, it seemed that the podium places would be decided amongst the first nine off the bike.
Ueda charges through on the run
Someone forgot to explain that to Ai Ueda (JAP), though. Close behind Spence off the bike, she managed to close the gap to 26 seconds by the end of the first lap.
Hewitt, Stimpson, Klamer and Vilic formed a fast-moving lead group through the first half of the run and, once they realized Ueda was coming like a train, they kept the pressure up and held Ueda to 26 seconds through four km. At that point Stimpson started to really push at the front, forcing the other three women to just try to hang on. Through the halfway point of the race Klamer was four seconds down as Hewitt took her turn at the front, continuing the pressure for the podium places.
Hewitt's big sprint
With one loop to go Stimpson made her move, but even though she was always the strongest up the steep climb that came half way through each run loop, she wasn't able to drop Hewitt or Vilic. The Brit kept up the pressure, though, forcing Hewitt and Vilic to react again and again over the last 1.5 km. Hewitt made her move with 500m to go, coming up to Stimpson's shoulder, with Vilic hanging tough in behind. With a few hundred meters to go, though, Stimpson appeared to have opened a gap and seemed on track to defend her title.
Hewitt wasn't done, though. Over the last 50 m she came up with an amazing sprint that got her across the line just ahead of Stimpson. Vilic came through to round out the podium. Klamer hung tough for fourth, while Ueda managed to move herself from the chase group to an impressive fifth.
ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi 2017 | Women
March 3, 2017 | Abu Dhabi (UAE)