Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig Wins Sprint Finish Of Women’s Triathlon
In one of the most exciting finishes in triathlon history Nicola Spirig of Switzerland beat out Sweden’s Lisa Norden in a photo finish in London’s Hyde Park. The two entered the home stretch, separated by a narrow margin, but Norden closed the gap in the final steps, creating a dramatic end to the race. Australia’s Erin Densham placed third while American Sarah Groff had the best run of the day to close an early deficit. Groff caught the lead group near the middle of the run. Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins, the pre-race favorite, couldn’t hold a late lead, ultimately finishing in fifth position.
The weather provided a bit of a twist to this year’s triathlon as the water in the Serpentine was not above 20 degrees Celsius, making wetsuits legal. The buoyancy of the suits is thought to even up the swim, making it anybody’s race from the beginning. 55 strong women hopped into the cold water for the 1500m swim, prepared for the race of a lifetime.
USA’s Laura Bennett and a lead group of roughly five women had a very strong swim, hitting the bike course ahead of a chase pack, which included Jenkins and a few more of the perennial favorites. The chase pack closed the gap a few laps into the 43km bike stage. The newly formed lead group of roughly 22 women jumped off the bikes and hit the run course. Some of the stronger runners including Spirig, Norden, Jenkins, Densham, Groff, and Australia’s Emma Jackson broke away, as expected and never looked back. One by one the field began to be dropped, leaving four women at the front (Spirig, Norden, Jenkins and Densham). On the final lap of the 10km run, Sarah Groff miraculously caught the lead group and even dropped the hometown favorite Jenkins in the final meters.
The final straight away on the blue carpet set the scene for one of the most thrilling finishes the sport of triathlon has ever seen. Spirig and Norden used every bit of energy they had left to sprint for the finish. Initially it was too close to call and the judges had to refer to a finish line photo, which ultimately showed the Swiss native barely edging the Swede. Both women were given a finishing time of 1hr 59m 48seconds, but the nod went to Spirig with a last second lean. Erin Densham crossed the line third, bringing home a top-three finish for her triathlon rich nation of Australia.