Canada has proven happy hunting ground for GB’s Vicky Holland as she today added Montreal to her Edmonton win from just one month ago. Today’s victory sees the Rio bronze medallist with three wins under her tri-suit heading into the Grand Final on Gold Coast in just three weeks’ time, yet because of the ITU points system she will start that final race behind the USA’s Katie Zaferes, who today finished second ahead of Holland’s teammate Georgia Taylor-Brown.
If the start was anything to go by, though, the win for Holland looked unlikely, as confusion over the starting horn caught several short, and which left the Brit entering the water in last place. Coming from a strong swim background, however, helped Holland stay relatively in contention, exiting the water in sixth after the first lap of 750m.
As in all her races this season, GB’s Jess Learmonth led the field out of the non-wetsuit 1.5km swim into T2, pulling through with series leader Zaferes, teammate Sophie Coldwell and Summer Cook (USA). Entering T2 alone in fifth, almost a minute down, Holland raced for almost the entire first lap with Italy’s Alice Betto, before the chase pack, led by reigning European champ Nicola Spirig, swallowed the pair up.
The Swiss Olympic champ set the pace from the off, and it was fast, bridging the gap to the lead now trio (Cook quickly dropped off the pace into the second chase group) after five laps of nine over the 40km city-street course. Now a group of 13, including all five GB girls (Jodie Stimpson made five), they worked tirelessly to pull out a lead over 3mins as they hit the blue carpet for the second transition.
And so the podium chase was on, with a quartet of Brits taking to the front in a dominant display of red, white and blue. Unfazed by the less-than-perfect start, Holland led from the off, making her title intentions known. Trading places behind her were her three teammates, Zaferes and Spirig, the latter the first to drop.
Unfortunately the Fab Four were forced to split at the start of the second lap, as Learmonth dropped down the chain, leaving Stimpson and Taylor-Brown to hold off the chasing American. With no chance of catching Holland, Zaferes set about chewing into the Brit pair’s podium places, finally making the move that stuck on lap three of four over the 10km run.
As the thermometer hit a high of 29°C, Holland ran down the finish chute to claim her third victory of 2018 and the fifth WTS win of her career, taking the title chase to the wire at the Grand Final.
Zaferes brought it home for second, while Taylor-Brown ran through for her third podium finish of the year.
Crowd favourite Joanna Brown of Canada took fourth, Spirig fifth, Stimpson sixth and Learmonth eighth.
Sadly the heat proved too much for Coldwell, who despite finishing was quickly wheeled off to the medical tent.