Katie Zaferes re-established herself as an Olympic medal contender, while Gwen Jorgensen suffered just her second defeat in more than two years at the final World Triathlon Series race before Rio in Hamburg on Saturday.
In a sprint race — half the Olympic distance — Zaferes notched her first career World Series win after five runner-up finishes in 2015. It came after Zaferes missed the podium in her previous two World Series starts — 24th at the 2015 Grand Final in Chicago and sixth in Yokohama, Japan, on May 14.
“This beginning of the year wasn’t what I wanted to be, and I wasn’t racing like the Katie I know I am,” Zaferes told the host broadcast after her Hamburg win in 57 minutes, 3 seconds. “[Today] I was the same person I was last year.”
Zaferes prevailed by 11 seconds over the Netherlands’ Rachel Klamer and by 26 seconds over the world champion Jorgensen, who couldn’t erase all of a 1:02 deficit going into the 5km run. Jorgensen made up 44 places in the standings on the run. Full results are here.
“I’m disappointed, a little bit gutted with my race, but to have Katie cross the line first, definitely bittersweet today” Jorgensen said. “It started in the swim, wasn’t the front pack in the swim, just didn’t have it today. I’m not thrilled.”
Jorgensen was 14 seconds behind after the opening 750-meter swim and lost another 48 seconds on the 20-kilometer bike.
“Rio’s a very different race,” Jorgensen said of what lies ahead Aug. 20, when she could become the first U.S. Olympic triathlon champion. “It’s Olympic distance, big hill, completely different from this race. But obviously I thought I could have done better today.”
Jorgensen lost for the second time in her last four races.
Brit Helen Jenkins, who came into Saturday as the top threat to Jorgensen, finished 14th in Hamburg in their first head-to-head since Jenkins snapped Jorgensen’s two-year, 12-race World Series winning streak on April 9.
The World Triathlon Series continues after the Olympics, in Edmonton the first weekend of September.Follow @nzaccardi