Findlay claims 2011 World Championship Series opener in Sydney
Canadian Paula Findlay proved her 2010 form was no fluke when she outsprinted Barbara Riveros Diaz to win the first Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship series race for season 2011 in Sydney.
In a thrilling finish, a pack of six women that had the lead for more than half of the run leg were all in with a chance heading into the final lap. American veteran Laura Bennett had lead the way for most of the time alongside Findlay, Riveros Diaz, Andrea Hewitt, Carole Peon and Tomoko Sakimoto, but it was the 21-year old Canadian who had the final legs to carry away the opening round of 2011.
The win confirmed Findlay as a bona fide triathlon star, after she won both the London and Kitzbuhel races in her first year on the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series. Findlay now has three series race titles, to put her just one behind reigning champion Emma Moffatt, who has a total of four race wins to lead the all-time series winners list. The scary thing for Findlay’s competitors is, there could only be more to come.Findlay put the burners on for the final few hundred metres, enough to hold off Riveros Diaz from claiming her second Sydney title. The pint-sized Chilean star also won last year’s race. Hewitt came in for third, her second consecutive Sydney podium after she claimed silver last year.
“I find it really helps my confidence because after I have a good race I am even more motivated to go even harder,” she said. “I’m excited to go home and do a few more months of training and I think that Madrid will be my next race and I am really looking forward to that.”
Findlay said she decided to play it safe in the big packs that dominated for most of the women’s bike. Australian Annabel Luxford tried to pull-away on the deceptively hilly Macquarie Street course, but was pulled back in as the top contenders hit T2 en masse.
“I just knew I had to chase hard and once I was there, I wasn’t trying to get the primes or anything,” Findlay said. “I was just trying to stay safe and stay up and stay within the group. After the run I felt pretty good and those last few laps went really well for me and those girls I was running with were so tough, I just wasn’t expecting at all to win.”
“There was so many surges and so many girls that were coming back from behind running on the hills that passed us, so many girls that are going to be factors later in the year and it’s still very early, but I think it just getting faster and faster and definitely very competitive.”
The highly favoured Australians in the field, Moffatt and Emma Snowsill, both had off-days. Reigning ITU world champion Moffatt was in the lead-pack until halfway through the run but dropped off while Snowsill had a tough swim leg and was chasing the lead pack from the start. Moffatt finished up in 13th place and Snowsill in 42nd.