Following an impressive ride on the 31km MTB leg, Great Britain’s Jacqueline Slack took fourth place at the 2015 ITU Cross Tri World Champs in Sardinia, Italy, on Saturday. Missing out on the podium by 2mins, the result was still two places higher than in 2014.
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Taking to Twitter after the race, the Xterra champ said: “Gave it everything I had today, unfortunately not enough to take that dream world champs podium. But I’m very satisfied with my 4th place. Awesome to race in GB colours and even more special to have my closest friends and family out there on course to cheer me on. The support was out of this world couldn’t have done it without you all! Huge congrats to everyone that raced!”
Spain’s Ruben Ruzafa and Bermuda Flora Duffy (BER) were crowned the king and queen of the rough and tough after conquering one of the grittiest and grimiest races of the season. For Ruzafa it was his second consecutive title, while Duffy earned gold for the first time.
After taking silver at the ITU Cross Champs in Zittau last year, Duffy had a point to prove in 2015, setting out to claim her first world title with a mission of authority. Joining her on the podium was former ITU star Barbara Riveros (CHI), who took silver, and Brigitta Poor (HUN), who took the bronze.
Duffy commanded the race right off the bat after taking an early lead in the swim. With an advantage of nearly 1:30mins, she was first to exit the waters. Riveros followed in second, with South Africa’s Carla Van Huyssteen not far behind.
Struggling through the first transition, however, Van Hussteen quickly lost time and was unable to hold onto her initial top placing.
Putting her strongest discipline to the test, Duffy was able to increase her lead to over 2mins on the bike. Cruising through the mudslinging off-road tracks, the Bermudian was in a class of her own, with only the 9.6km off-road run left before she was able to secure her crown.
While Duffy worked alone on the bike, Riveros, Poor and Carina Wasle (AUT) toughed it out together for the final podium slots. Entering the race, Germany’s reigning world champion Kathrin Müller had also hoped to claim a medal, but trailing by a massive 13min gap behind Duffy at the start of the run, her quest was short-lived.
Completing her dominant tape-to-line performance, Duffy carried out the fastest run split of the day (38:35mins) to secure the world title in 2:25:56. Riveros’ speedy 38:54min split catapulted her into second at the line, in 2:29:46, almost 4mins down on Duffy. A further 8mins back, but using the momentum of the lead she built up from the bike, Poor was able to finish the day in third with a 2:38:10.
After a comeback start and tight finish, Ruzafa became a back-to-back world champion, winning the cross triathlon honours for the second consecutive year. Earning his first ITU podium, Francisco Seranno (MEX) finished with silver, followed by Sam Osborne of New Zealand with bronze.
Ruzafa’s day looked doomed from the off after he hit T1 after the 1.5km swim almost 2mins down on the leaders. But showing no mercy to the mud and muck of the off-road track, he pushed out a blistering first lap on the bike to blow by the competition and catapult him into the first-place position.
Declaring it is his final cross triathlon world championships, Conrad ‘The Caveman’ Stoltz (RSA), a three-time world Xterra champion, also exited the waters nearly 2mins down but was unable to close the gap over the remaining distance, eventually finishing in 16th.
Entering the run, Rufaza managed to secure a comfortable lead. But a swift split from Serrano put nervous pressure on the reigning champion as he gained on the Spaniard heading into the final kilometres. With the chase for gold going down to the wire, Rufaza found an extra gear to ultimately put enough space between himself and Serrano to cross the line first with a 26sec window.