Sian Rainsley scores debut World Triathlon Cup win with sparkling display in Hong Kong harbour

by on 24 Mar, 2024 05:54 • Español
Sian Rainsley scores debut World Triathlon Cup win with sparkling display in Hong Kong harbour

There was no doubt who the first ever World Cup race in Hong Kong belonged to on Sunday morning, as Great Britain’s Sian Rainsley managed to hold off the American duo of Katie Zaferes and Kirsten Kasper to secure her first ever win at this level.

It had been a testing 750m swim in Victoria Harbour as the athletes battled around the buoy, leaving a seven-deep group out front that managed to keep clear of the chasers for the full 5 laps of the 20km bike. Out onto the run, it was only at the bell that that front three finally shook off those around her, before Rainsley produced the decisive move after over 2km of the lead chopping and changing to take the tape ahead of the 2019 World Champion Zaferes and Kasper.

“I didn’t race much last year, I was quite injured so just being back on the start line was exciting,” said a beaming Rainsley. “I felt a bit more relaxed because I thought, let’s just blow off the cobwebs. I’ve been training a lot with my partner Tom, who just podiumed at a 70.3 in Australia this morning, so it’s a good day for our household! I only just got on the front group, so was happy to make that and on the last run lap, I just sprinted as hard as I could and it paid off today.”

USA and GB dominate the swim

It was the familiar sight of GB’s Olivia Mathias and Sophie Alden leading the swim at the turn and making early headway with Kasper and Zaferes in pursuit. Race number one Summer Rappaport (USA) put in a surge to come alongside the leaders, and that added momentum stretched the field over the closing stages towards the pontoon.

The choppy water and long ramp made the exit tough, and it was up the steps into transition that Rappaport seemed to lose ground, the 40-second run to the bike racks shuffling the pack and Emma Jeffcoat (AUS) powered to the front with Spain’s Cecilia Santamaria Surroca.

Magnificent seven pull clear

With Rappaport stranded off the back along with Canada’s Sophia Howell, that front seven developed into a tightly-knit group, while further back it was Swiss Julie Derron and Austria’s Therese Feuersinger trying to close their gap to a group headed by Ilaria Zane (ITA) and Erika Ackerlund (USA) who were 20 seconds off the front.

The 2018 World Champion Vicky Holland (GBR) couldn’t get on to Derron’s wheel and slipped back to a third group with the likes of Tilda Mansson (SWE) and Yuka Sato (JPN), the Swiss soon on the front of that main chase group over lap two and looking to reel in the leaders.

Bravo on the hunt

The lead hit 30 seconds and there it remained until the very final stages of the last lap, Mathias, Alden and Jeffcoat fastest through transition and away first but weren’t allowed time to enjoy the moment, and it wasn’t long before the seven came back together.

Seven became four, two Americans and two Brits, as Santamaria and Jeffcoat were first to be dropped, then Alden was unable to keep the pace as Zaferes, Kasper, Rainsley and Mathias pushed on.

Further back, Bravo and Derron were going through the gears, Holland also flying through the field as was Denmark’s Alberte Kjaer Pedersen, but Mathias was suddenly 10 seconds off the front three and the medals looked all but decided.

Final push pays off

Kirsten Kasper pushed on the short downhill but there was no shaking her rivals, nothing between them with 500m to go, but it was then that Rainsley was able to summon the finish she needed, kicking clear and carving out daylight as the blue carpet neared, 6 seconds the winning margin as she soaked up the cheers. Zaferes took silver, bouncing back after a tough Continental Championships in Miami, Kasper back on the podium with bronze, Bravo running her way to fourth, Zane in fifth.

“The last race I did I didn’t finish and after a DNF it is always hard to put yourself in the right mental space for the next race,” admitted Zaferes. “I am really proud of myself for this race, it wasn’t an easy second, it was a hard-fought one. I am just really happy I strung together a decent swim, bike, run and transitions as well. The swim felt a little weird, but I just tried my best to stay relaxed, stay connected and take it piece by piece so that was a really big focus for this race, not to get too ahead of myself.”

“It’s great to be back on a podium, honestly I didn’t decide to do this race until two weeks ago so this is a great way to come to Hong Kong for the first time and get back on a podium,” said a satisfied Kasper. “This early in the season, I didn’t know where my run fitness was so that was a mental battle. I wanted to try and be strong and make sure I was on the podium, maybe even fight for the win. Those girls were strong together and got me today but I am just glad to be part of that podium. That was validation that what I did this winter paid off and I am grateful to my team for helping me figure out how to get back to the podium.”

Full results can be found here.

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Related Event: 2024 World Triathlon Cup Hong Kong
24 Mar, 2024 • event pageall results
Results: Elite Women
1. Sian Rainsley GBR 00:59:44
2. Katie Zaferes USA 00:59:53
3. Kirsten Kasper USA 01:00:00
4. Elizabeth Bravo ECU 01:00:07
5. Ilaria Zane ITA 01:00:11
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