Flora Duffy (BER) could not have asked for a better race scenario as a dominant performance captured her the 2018 MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda crown in front of thousands of cheering fans. The gold earned on home soil was her first WTS win of the season and a first for the inaugural event, with a comfortable victory margin of 96 seconds in the first Olympic-distance race of the season.
“I don’t think this moment is going to sink in for a while, but what I will say when it does is that this will probably be one of the highlights of my career. I mean this is incredible, the streets were lined, and it was just a phenomenal atmosphere, it was incredible. It was hard for me to control my emotions throughout that whole 10km, but with like 9.5km to go I just thought I need to smile and celebrate and soak this in,” Duffy said following her hometown-hero win.
Assuming the lead in the swim and maintaining it for the bike and run, Duffy also became the first woman in WTS history to win a race having led in all three disciplines, including a 40-kilometre solo bike ride.
“That wasn’t my plan, I wanted to get a small breakaway, that’s why I pushed in the swim. Going up Corkscrew I wasn’t really sure where everybody was, I knew Kirsten (Kasper) was there, I attacked it because that was my plan and I thought she would come with me, but she didn’t. So I thought, well I guess I am going 40km solo,” she added.
Second place went to Great Britain’s Vicky Holland after she won in a photo-finish sprint to the line with USA’s Katie Zaferes who took the bronze.
Holland said afterwards, “I just found out I came second, I could not have told you at the finish. We were waiting five minutes to find out who it was that came second. I think all credit to Katie (Zaferes), she pulled me around a lot on the run. I had a bad transition, it took me a lap to catch her and then after that I just sort of tucked in and tried to hold on. This was my first Olympic distance in over 11 months and I wasn’t sure how I would fair on the second half, so I really just let Katie do the work and prepared myself for a sprint.”
The women’s race directly followed the men, but with headliner Duffy the hometown hero, the crowds seemed to have doubled in size by the start. With the sound of the horn, the women dove into the water to get WTS Bermuda underway, with Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR), Lisa Perterer (AUT) and Cecilia Perez (MEX) forced to serve a 15-second penalty in the first transition after a false start off the pontoon.
It took mere seconds for Duffy to get ahead in the water, but Kirsten Kasper (USA) remained alongside her for the 1500-metre two-lap swim. Duffy held that lead and exited the swim in front for the first time in a WTS race.
Gliding through a swift transition, Kasper and Duffy headed out together onto the bike course, but it quickly became clear for Kasper that Duffy wasn’t going to hold back on her home turf. The Bermudian pushed the pace and by the time the two got to Corkscrew Hill, Duffy had lost Kasper, with the American forced to wait for a chasing pack to catch up.
Duffy continued pushing on alone, an effort that resulted in her tackling the 40-kilometre bike course with a challenging hill ten times over without any help. Support instead came in the form of the local crowd, the cheers building for their hero as she continued to extend her lead.
The main chase pack certainly had strength in numbers with the likes of Zaferes, Holland, Jodie Stimpson (GBR), Kasper, Alice Betto (ITA), Maya Kingma (NED) and Taylor Spivey (USA) together, but they lost ground with every passing lap and Duffy entered T2 with a lead of over 1:20.
Meanwhile, the Series leader entering the race, Rachel Klamer (NED), was sadly not well and found herself in the second chase group, trailing by over two minutes.
Once through T2, Duffy still refused to let up the pace. Holding on firmly to her lead, she ran the full 10-kilometre run unscathed and untroubled, giving the fans exactly what they had hoped for and entering the finish chute with Bermuda flag in hand to secure the hometown win.
“I just want to say thank you to every Bermudian that came out to support me. It was incredible. This is an absolute highlight of my career and I love that all sorts of people were out here, whether they knew what triathlon was a year ago or not, and they were celebrating. It was an amazing moment for me and my sporting career, it was incredible!” Duffy said of the rousing support she received throughout the race.
Second place came down to a tense battle between Holland and Zaferes, after the pair broke away from their cycle group. While Zaferes had the slight edge for the majority of the run, Holland fought back in the final moments and it was a dramatic sprint to the line. The photo finish finally confirmed that Holland edged the silver and Zaferes would get her first WTS podium of the season with the bronze.
“I am so excited to be on the podium, I mean this race wasn’t exactly an easy one. I was fighting from the start of the swim, it just did not feel good. I just am so happy to be on the podium,” Zaferes said afterwards.
Kirsten Kasper finished fourth, a result which, coupled with her fourth-place finish at WTS Abu Dhabi, means that the American becomes the new overall Series leader.