Updated: 18.09.2022 14:16
Spirited performance: Dame Flora Duffy fought her way to sixth place at the inaugural PTO US Open in Dallas (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Dame Flora Duffy fought her way up to sixth place at the inaugural PTO US Open in Dallas on Saturday.
Among a standout elite women’s field, Duffy, making her debut in the series, exited the water in 28 minutes 3 seconds after the 2-kilometer swim, ran 2 hours 1 minute 25 seconds on the 80-kilometer bike course and completed the 18-kilometer long run in 1:13:40 a combined time of 3:45:17.
Ashleigh Gentle, eighth off the bike and just under seven minutes behind the lead, somehow made up the deficit by passing Taylor Knibb with just two kilometers to go to cross the finish line in a winning time of 3:37:17 and the goal of reaching $100,000 grand prize. Her incredible run of 1:04:59 was four minutes faster than any other competitor.
Knibb, who was reduced to a walk for a few short stretches when conditions took their toll, held on to second place with a 3:38:32 finish while Lucy Charles-Barclay took the podium in 3:40:31 completed.
Charles-Barclay was soon at the front of the water, with Knibb the only athlete staying on her feet. The rest of the field was lined up behind them as the pair came out of the water with a 31 second lead over a group that included Holly Lawrence, Gentle, Duffy, Paula Findlay and Lisa Norden to get halfway to the exit.
By the end of the swim, that lead had only increased as Charles-Barclay and Knibb exited the water a minute ahead of their pursuers. Charles-Barclay stole a roughly 15-second march from Knibb through the first transition, while Lawrence’s chasing group was led onto the seven-lap bike course just over a minute after Knibb.
About 8km into the 80km course, Knibb charged past Charles-Barclay and began putting distance between himself and everyone else on the course.
On lap two, Charles-Barclay, who had already lost her race nutrition bottle from the back of her bike, made a brief stop to troubleshoot an issue with her electronic shifting that had overheated under the Texas sun.
Halfway through the bike, Knibb’s buffer was 1:51 to Charles-Barclay. The Brit, meanwhile, was 1:12 behind the chasing group of Lawrence, Findlay, Duffy and Norden, who found themselves just over three minutes behind the leader.
By the start of the final lap, Knibb’s lead had increased to 3:04, with Charles-Barclay 2:08 ahead of the chasing group, who was five minutes behind Knibb at the time.
Meanwhile, Gentle led the second chasing group by 6:19 and 1:06 over the podium contenders.
Showing no sign of weakness, Knibb pushed for the second change and started the five-lap, 18km run with a 3:42 lead over Lucy Charles-Barclay.
Almost two and a half minutes later, Findlay, Duffy, Lawrence and North started the run shoulder to shoulder. However, it wasn’t long before Duffy upped the pace and took a clear third place on the track.
Gentle, eighth off the bike and 6:52 behind the lead, stormed into the final stage and quickly established herself as the fastest runner on the course. Soon Duffy was faltering while the Australian seemed unfazed by the heat which overtook him within the first 5km.
From there, Gentle continued to chase her rivals, closing her gap on Lucy Charles-Barclay by 10km. At first it seemed like Gentle would run out of road to catch up with Knibb, but the American had to walk over a few short stretches as conditions took their toll.
Completing the pass just short of the 16km mark, Gentle had 2km to run to soak up the fact that she would claim her second straight PTO Open victory after winning the opening race in Edmonton.
Knibb stayed second and $70,000 while Charles-Barclay completed the podium and earned $50,000.
Lawrence is perfectly positioned to chase the big bucks, finishing fourth with $40,000. Norden’s 3:44:49 finish netted her $35,000, with the Swede passing Duffy to round out the top five.