Jorgensen starts off triathlon season on high note

 

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- 2014 ITU World Champion Gwen Jorgensen began the 2015 season on track to defend her title with her sixth consecutive win, while Katie Zaferes picked up her first career series podium finish on Saturday at the opening event of the 2015 ITU World Triathlon Series.

Jorgensen (St. Paul, Minn.) posted a finishing time of 58 minutes, 59 seconds on the 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike, 5-kilometer run course at ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi to claim her ninth career WTS victory. Zaferes (Hampstead, Md.) picked up the silver medal, clocking in at 59:15 for her best finish in the WTS, and Bermuda's Flora Duffy was third in 59:23.

 Overall, five American women finished in the top 10, with Lindsey Jerdonek (Brecksville, Ohio) finishing sixth, Sarah True (Hanover, N.H.) in ninth place and Kaitlin Donner (Satellite Beach, Fla.) in 10th. Since the ITU World Triathlon Series was launched in 2009, no country has had five athletes finish in the top 10 of a series event.

Carolina Routier of Spain led the women out of the water, with Erin Jones (Hood River, Ore.) and True just 10 seconds back. Jones, True, Zaferes and Jerdonek were part of the lead pack of 11 women, with Jorgensen and Donner in the chase group. With less than 10k to go on the bike, Duffy, Jerdonek, Zaferes, Sweden's Lisa Norden and Great Britain's Lucy Hall broke away from the lead group to put more time on the field leading into the run.

At the start of the two-lap 5k run, Jorgensen was more than a minute behind the lead pack. On the first lap of the run, Jorgensen chipped away at her deficit and moved within 13 seconds of Duffy, who was running in the lead through 2.5k. Jorgensen then surged past Duffy, with Zaferes not far behind.

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"I didn't really have the swim I wanted to, but I was shocked with how fast I ran," Jorgensen said after the race. "I've had some good run sessions but I did not think I was running that well. I came out of the water behind, it was a rough swim, and I just had to work to stay in doing what I know how to do, which is fight. You can't give up until the finish line, that's something I've definitely learned."

"The first race is always pretty nerve-racking; you're not sure how it's going to go. This is a good start," Zaferes said. "This has been my goal since I started ITU triathlon. To finally achieve it, I'm pretty stoked."

In the men's race, Jarrod Shoemaker (Clermont, Fla.) was the top American finisher coming in 26th place.

The 10-race World Triathlon Series continues on March 28-29 in Auckland, New Zealand. The 2015 series will conclude in the U.S. with the World Triathlon Grand Final and World Championships set for Sept. 15-20 in Chicago's Grant Park.

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