For the women’s WTS race in Bermuda all eyes were on one person only, reigning ITU and Commonwealth champion Bermudan Flora Duffy. Here Duffy would be racing on home soil at the inaugural WTS Bermuda, and this race, above all other WTS races, was the one she really wanted to win.
Although the first WTS race in Abu Dhabi of the season did not go to plan, Duffy is the in-form athlete taking five WTS victories in 2017; and racing with the backing of the home crowds, the race should be hers for the taking…
The 31 other athletes trying to stop her taking the win included Brits Jodie Stimpson and Vicky Holland, WTS Abu Dhabi winner Rachel Klamer from The Netherlands, and American Katie Zaferes, back racing after her nasty fall in Abu Dhabi.
And the race started well for the Bermudan; she led the 1,500m non-wetsuit swim from the start, heading up a small group of five included USA athletes Kirsten Kasper and Summer Cook. Brit Vicky Holland was 19secs behind, leading the chase group.
The challenging bike leg, with its 10 ascents of Corkscrew Hill, would suit the 30-year-old Bermudan, renowned for her bike powers, and out on the bike, although American Kirsten Kasper tried to stay with her, it soon became the Duffy show after she made a break just before the start of the first ascent of Corkscrew Hill.
From then on there was no stopping the Bermudan. By the end of lap one she had a 29secs lead over a 14-strong chase group, which included Brits Holland and Stimpson, with nine more laps to go. To the delight of the cheering crowds she then extended to 37secs at the end of lap two, where the gap stayed for the next few laps.
Then during lap five she put her foot down and her lead increased to 54secs, and by the time she started the final bike lap she was up 01:23.
The local girl was in a league on her own but could she maintain the lead on the flattish, four-lap, 10km harbourside run in Hamilton, the capital of Bermuda?
The answer was yes. Although Katie Zapheres made a break from the chase, and then with 8km to go Vicky Holland ran into third position, there was no catching the Bermudan and victory was more or less assured for the home-grown hero, with the crowds cheering her every step.
However, the fight was truly on for second and third. Side by side Holland and Zapheres battled until the blue carpet when, in a sprint finish, Holland just managed to take it.
But Duffy is in a league of her own and her sights will now be firmly on the world title – can she win it for a third successive year? Only a fool would bet against her.