It was another stellar field for the women’s sprint race in the United Arab Emirates. Nine of the top ten women would race, including reigning world champ Flora Duffy and Rio bronze medallist Vicky Holland. The only notable absentee was Olympic champ Gwen Jorgensen who has moved to marathon running.
If you were a betting person your money would be on Flora Duffy for the victory. The double world champion dominated the 2017 season, and with a technical bike course WTS Abu Dhabi looked like it would all play out to her strengths
The early indications were that it would. Brit Jess Learmonth would lead the swim, with Duffy just behind. Out on the bike Duffy and Learmonth then made a leading duo until Duffy pulled away at the end of the first lap. It looked like it was about to become the all-familiar Duffy show.
However like in the men’s race, conditions in Abu Dhabi were not favourable with the rain and oil on the F1 track making life slippy for the triathletes. Duffy fell victim to this, falling in the tunnel where it was particularly bad. There was no way back for the Bermudan and suddenly the race was wide open.
With about 5km to go there was a lead group of about eight triathletes, including Katie Zaferes (USA), Rachel Klamer (Netherlands), Sophie Coldwell (GB), Jess Learmonth (GB), Kirsten Kasper (USA), Natalie VanCoevorden (AUS), Lotte Miller (NOR) and Melanie Santos (POR) all in contention. But then the infamous tunnel claimed its next victims as Zaferes and Coldwell both fell. For the six remaining it was now just about survival and riding safely until T2.
Which they did and when safely out on the 5km run the six soon became four as Kasper, Klamer, Learmonth, and VanCoevorden broke away. Then as the bell went for the last lap of the 5km run it became two as Learmonth and Klamer made their move.