Andrea Steyn (01:56:39) finished the women’s Elite race in fifth place, four minutes behind race winner Felicity Sheedy-Ryan, while Jodie Berry (01:01:41) crossed the line three minutes behind champ Georgia Taylor-Brown for a 10th-place finish among the Junior women.
The shaded run and technical bike course that wound around UNESCO heritage site Place Stanislas provided the perfect backdrop for Elite champ, Australia’s Felicity Sheedy-Ryan to claim her first world championship title at the 2012 ITU Duathlon World Championships in Nancy, France.
Although Sheedy-Ryan has been absent from the duathlon scene since earning bronze at the 2010 World Championships, she made a seamless return to the two-discipline sport besting last year’s champion Katie Hewison (GBR) and four-time world championship medallist Sandra Levenez (FRA) en route to the title.
“I knew there were some very strong girls,” Sheedy-Ryan said. “I’ve been doing a lot of hard biking and running recently for my triathlon training, and I was confident I could put in a good race. You never know, it’s never easy, but I was hoping for a really good result.”
The result was indeed good for the Australian, as she dominated the course from start to finish. On the second half of the six-lap 10km run, Sheedy-Ryan pushed the pace to break away from lead pack of 10. Hewison, Sabrina Godard and Levenez met her rate and, together, the quad managed to gain a 40-second advantage by the time they hit their bikes.
It wasn’t long before Sheedy-Ryan, Hewison and Levenez accelerated ahead of Godard on the technical course.The top three leading ladies rode together throughout the eight-lap course, working to put an insurmountable distance between themselves and their competition. The three hit the run course together, but Sheedy-Ryan quickly sprinted ahead on the first of three run laps, with Hewison next.
“The first run was very, very fast,” Hewison said. “I’m really pleased with my second place. Last year I think I was a little bit fitter on the run, but I had a stress fracture after the race. This year, I’m healthy, but maybe just a little bit less fit. But, saying that, I’m really pleased.”
The elites were not the only competitors on the course in Nancy, as athletes from the U23 category competed alongside the elites. Cheered on by her compatriots on home soil, Alexandra Cassan Ferrier (FRA) thwarted the competition with a nearly three-minute win in 1:56:44. Belgium’s Sofie Hooghe took silver in 1:59:36 and Spain’s Melina Alonso was third in 2:00:13.
Great Britain claimed big success in the junior sprint races when Georgia Taylor-Brown and Georgina Schwiening scored gold and silver, respectfully. Taylor-Brown posted the top time of 58:27 and Schwiening earned silver 13 seconds later. France got on the podium once again when Jeanne Lehair rounded out the top three in 58:59.
Leading Elite Women Final Results at the 2012 Nancy ITU Duathlon World Championships (10km run, 40km bike, 5km run): 1. Felicity Sheedy-Ryan (AUS) 01:52:43 2. Katie Hewison (GBR) 01:53:42 3. Sandra Levenez (FRA) 01:54:20 4. Yuko Takahashi (JPN) 01:56:33 5. Andrea Steyn (RSA) 01:56:39 6. Jenny Schulz (GER) 01:56:49 7. Evgenia Sukhoruchenkova (RUS) 01:56:50 8. Franziska Scheffler (GER) 01:56:52 9. Stefanie Bouma (NED) 01:57:24 10. Sabrina Godard (FRA) 01:58:45 Leading Junior Women Final Results (5km run, 20 bike, 2.5 km run): 1. Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) 00:58:27 2. Georgina Schwiening (GBR) 00:58:40 3. Jeanne Lehair (FRA) 00:58:59 4. Joselin Brea (VEN) 00:59:07 5. Célia Bremond (FRA) 00:59:12 6. Lisa Schanung (ITA) 00:59:17 7. Couckuyt Ine (BEL) 00:59:18 8. Laura Gomez Ramon (ESP) 00:59:27 9. Sveva Fascetti (ITA) 01:00:18 10. Jodie Berry (RSA) 01:01:41