Stimpson lost in the washing machine as Aussies rule in Docklands triathlon
Thursday, 30 June 2011
June 30 - Jodie Stimpson's desire to win the first GE Canary Wharf triathlon in the Super Series event was written all over her face as she strove to overcome a horrible start in the swimming.
That the 2009 and 2010 champion managed to force her way through to third place after entering the final stage of the run 16 seconds down on the leading quartet was a tribute to her competitiveness.
But in the end this gutsy 22-year-old was unable to catch her English team-mate Hollie Avil, who finished almost eight seconds ahead of her in 28min 51.90sec, with Australia's experienced campaigner Erin Densham winning in 28.40.20 to set up a double from Down Under on the night, with her fellow countryman Brendan Sexton taking the men's title in 26.10.75 after outsprinting England's Aaron Harris, who clocked 26.11.80.
Stimpson, who is still in with a shout of securing a hat-trick of overall victories if she can perform well in the concluding event of the series, the Virgin Active London Triathlon on July 30, was able to raise a smile at the end of this convoluted course around interested evening drinkers in Reuters Plaza at the centre of the high rise glass edifices which stand at the heart of Docklands.
But for most of the race her expression had been one of agonised effort as she attempted to connect her pursuing group with the four cyclists whose successful swim had allowed them to break clear away - Densham and the three English rivals Avil, Abbie Thorrington and Lucy Hall.
"I was in a washing machine in the swim," said Stimpson, whose 10th place in last weekend's European Championships, two places ahead of Avil, was the best British performance.
"I was boxed in and got into a fight.
"Sometimes it just happens that way."
As the leaders sped off on their wheels, Stimpson made a shaky transition as the course commentator helpfully described it as "a nightmare", fumbling to fasten the strap of her safety helmet before climbing onto her bike in front of an interested gathering outside All Bar One.
After finishing second in her qualifying heat, Stimpson had taken a little time out to sit in the Plaza and reflected upon the "weird" experience of the race.
"I've never competed in a city course like this," she said.
"It's a challenge.
"But the atmosphere is great."
As the leading four riders occasionally swapped positions to maintain their break, although Avil appeared to do most of the work before repeatedly inviting her fellow riders to do some of the leading work themselves, Stimpson was labouring alone at the front of her group without any obvious assistance.
"To be honest, I think they were just weaker cyclists than me," she said.
"I had Hollie in my sights at the end of the run, but I just ran out of road.
"But it was good fun – a very good venue."
Avil said she had been unaware of Stimpson's challenge.
"I never look back in races," she said.
"There was a real buzz about racing tonight, especially in the heats when there were more crowds."
Hall eventually finished fifth in 29:15.95, with Thorrington eighth, as Australia's Charlotte McShane moved up to fourth.
Densham, who has been hampered by injuries over the last three years and missed four months last year because of a hamstring problem, was satisfied with her night's work.
"It took me a while to get back into my running, but it went well here," she said after making the decisive break clear of Avil early in her run.
"I like to hit the front early and make the others hurt."
Her compatriot, Sexton, took the opposite view, hanging on Harris's shoulder until the final 50 metres before bursting clear for an exuberant victory.
England's Matt Gunby was third in 26:16.50, with Australia's Aaron Royle one place behind him and the United States' 2008 Olympian Jarrod Shoemaker fifth.
Asked if this would be the last time Canary Wharf hosted a stage of the Super Series, Alan Pascoe, founder and chairman of Fast Track, reacted vehemently in the negative.
"I sincerely hope not," said the former European 400 metres hurdles champion and Olympic relay silver medallist.
"I think this has been a hugely successful event and we will be looking to extend it."
Meanwhile Sarah Springman, chair of the British Triathlon Federation, declared that she was "absolutely thrilled" with the impact of the event.
"When this was first proposed we had to slightly breathe in a bit because there were a lot of factors and costs involved," she said.
"But we felt we had to have the event with the Olympics coming to London next year and given that the Games are being run from Canary Wharf.
"It has been a fabulous night of racing."
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