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© Delly Carr / ITU
Densham wins, Jenkins second in Sydney
Posted by: John Levison
Posted on: Saturday 14th April 2012


Tags  Andrea Hewitt  |  Erin Densham  |  Helen Jenkins  |  Sydney  |  WTS


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The 2012 ITU World Triathlon Series kicked off with the ladies race in Farm Cove, Sydney, Australia this morning. Site of the 2000 Olympic Games, for many athletes - the British included - this was in effect race one of three in terms of final chances to gain London 2012 Olympic places, with just San Diego and Madrid to follow before the selection window closes.

No such worries for World Champion Helen Jenkins of course, who has already booked her place on the Hyde Park pontoon this August, her race today representing her 2012 debut. Sometimes a slow starter to the racing year, how would she fair here? The race spotlight would also fall upon defending Olympic Champion Emma Snowsill. With Emma Moffatt pre-selected for the Australian team, Emma Jackson in fine form and Erin Densham having produced a superb win at the Mooloolaba World Cup last month, there is a real possibility that one of the most dominant athletes in the history of the sport might not get to defend her Beijing 2008 victory.

Japan's Mariko Adachi set the pace throughout the 1500m swim, exiting the water with a significant gap of 26 seconds over a large group headed by Jenkins, Aileen Morrison (IRL), Emma Moffatt and the vast majority of the pre-race favourites in a long line of athletes. Snowsill was over a minute back on Adachi, but with few material breaks and Nicola Spirig (SUI) close by, that didn't look like being a major obstacle in the early stages.

It didn't take long for Adachi's swim advantage to be extinguished and a huge lead group of 29 formed, with a chase group of similar size - including Snowsill, Spirig and Gwen Jorgensen (USA) - 30 seconds back. For the British athletes Jenkins, Blatchford and Holland were in the front group at this stage with Stimpson, Stanford and Lang with the chasers at the end of lap one of eight. That gap fell - slowly - but come the end of lap five, as seemed inevitable, a huge group had formed and all looked set for the run to be decisive.

Lisa Norden (SWE) reached T2 first, but everyone was with her - it was going to be a 10km run race after a fairly pedestrian and incident-free bike ride.

2km in and a clear group of seven had formed including Erin Densham, Emma Moffatt, Helen Jenkins, Nicola Spirig, Andrea Hewitt, Mariko Adachi and Ainhoa Murua (ESP). Twice World Champion Moffatt was the first to fade, and then it was six. Early leader Adachi was the next to fall off the pace, while Murua was hanging on to the back of the group of five.

Very swiftly, five became three with an elite trio of Densham, Jenkins and Hewitt as Spirig and Murua drfited off the back. Behind, Snowsill was...making little impression, with fellow Aussies Jackson, Moffatt and Ashleigh Gentle between her and leader Densham at the midway stage. Could the Olympic Champion fail to make it to London?

Erin Densham, fresh from that Mooloolaba World Cup win has represented Australia in the World Cross Country Championships, but Jenkins was looking in great shape. Slow start to the year? I don't think so. Hewitt was more than happy to follow that duo as Densham and Jenkins lead, a metre in front, and having finished 2011 in dominating form has clearly brought that into 2012.

Into the final kilometre and Densham was going for the win and, probably, an Olympic berth. Hewitt was the first to be broken, and then Jenkins was gapped slightly too - could the British World Champion find anything more? No, Densham showed her class and fully deserved her victory after setting the pace from the first few steps of the run, while Jenkins proved her consistency, again, to take the silver.

Non Stanford was the next best Brit in a career best 11th, Blatchford 18th, Holland 38th and Stimpson 45th. Kerry Lang was a DNF during the bike leg.

Olympic Champion Snowsill finished 14th, 1:29 back having made up ground over the final 5km, though after Densham, Gentle (10th) and Moffatt (13th) that still made her fourth Australian. The big surprise though was Emma Jackson, her 33rd (2:34 in arrears of Densham) will increase the pressure on her.

Pos Ladies
1st Erin Densham (AUS) 2:01:28
2nd Helen Jenkins (GBR) 2:01:38
3rd Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 2:01:46
4th Gwen Jorgensen (USA) 2:02:10
5th Nicola Spirig (SUI) 2:02:17
6th Ainhoa Murua (ESP) 2:01:24
7th Anne Haug (GER) 2:02:31
8th Kathy Tremblay (CAN) 2:02:33
9th Mariko Adachi (JPN) 2:02:37
10th Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) 2:02:40

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