Duffy wins Yokohama in return to ITU World Triathlon Series

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YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — Flora Duffy of Bermuda won Saturday’s ITU World Triathlon Series race, finishing almost two minutes ahead of series leader Katie Zaferes of the United States.

Duffy, the 2016 world champion, clocked 1 hour, 56 minutes, 18 seconds in rainy conditions to win her first event of the season after missing the first two races in Abu Dhabi and Australia due to injury.

Zaferes was second in 1:58:09 while Kirsten Kasper, also of the United States, was third in 1:58:17.

“I didn’t know what I would have in the tank for today,” Duffy said. “I was pretty nervous coming into the race today, I felt like a WTS first-timer, but I had to keep reminding myself that I am the world champ and I need to ride with confidence.”

Yuka Sato of Japan placed 13th for the best finish for the host nation while Andrea Hewitt of the New Zealand, who won the previous race in Australia, was 23rd.

Mario Mola of Spain won the men’s event for his second of the season.

Mola, also a winner in Australia, ended in 1:48:15 to edge compatriot Fernando Alarza, who was second in 1:48.23. Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt was third in 1:48.26.

The series continues on June 10 in Leeds, England, the fourth of nine World Triathlon Series races this year.

MORE: Gwen Jorgensen pregnant, to sit out 2017 triathlon season

Katie Zaferes wins first World Triathlon Series race; Gwen Jorgensen 3rd

Katie Zaferes
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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.

MORE: Men’s triathlon world champion out of Rio

Katie Zaferes completes U.S. Olympic triathlon team

Katie Zaferes, Gwen Jorgensen, Sarah True
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Katie Zaferes was announced Tuesday as the sixth and final member of the U.S. Olympic triathlon team seeking its first medal since 2004 and first gold medal in the sport’s 16-year Olympic history.

Zaferes, 26, was named to her first Olympic team 10 days after the final Olympic selection race in Yokohama, Japan.

Zaferes comfortably led the qualifying standings for the third and final U.S. Olympic women’s spot behind World champion Gwen Jorgensen and Sarah True, who qualified for Rio on Aug. 2.

USA Triathlon decided not to bypass Zaferes in discretionary selection for a less-accomplished triathlete that would be used as a domestique to improve Jorgensen and/or True’s medal chances in Rio.

Jorgensen, True and Zaferes are the only active U.S. women to make a World Triathlon Series podium, all having done so at least five times in the last two years.

Jorgensen won in Yokohama, with Zaferes placing sixth and True not competing.

The U.S. Olympic men’s triathlon team includes Greg BillingtonBen Kanute and Joe Maloy, all first-time Olympians who have never made a World Series podium.

MORE: Gwen Jorgensen returns to top of podium