After losing the inaugural Miyazaki title in 2016, Cook lined up for Saturday’s race bound and determined to change her fate in the final world cup race of the 2017 season. Dominating the field through the swim, bike and run, Cook snagged the title to collect her third world cup gold of the year.
“I am really happy with today’s race. It felt great to be able to back up my win in Tongyeong last week with another win. I feel like I completed some things better than I did last week, so I am really happy about that and I am really happy about the process that I put forth in order to achieve my result today. I am looking to take these last two results and the things I accomplished from the whole process and take them into next season,” Cook said of her win.
Spivey took the silver medal, to total two world cup podiums in her season, while the bronze went to Jackson who ends her season with her third world cup medal.
“I am so happy to finish the season strong. I worked really hard today and it paid off,” said Taylor of finishing her season with a silver medal,” said Spivey.
The women opened up the final Olympic distance race of the year with a beach start into the two-lap swim. The field split into two groups exiting the waters, with Cook, Spivey and Japan’s Yuko Takahashileading the charge.
Mounting onto the bikes a group of nine women containing Cook, Spivey, Jackson, Takahashi, Edda Hannesdottir (ICL), Valerie Barthelemy (BEL), Verena Steinhauser (ITA), Yuka Sato (JPN) and Angelica Olmo (ITA) formed.
A chasing duo of Joanna Brown (CAN) and Chelsea Burns (USA) got caught in between two large packs, with them unable to catch the leaders.
After a tough swim, the 2016 Miyazaki champion Ai Ueda (JPN) fell into the larger chase group that remained a steady two minutes back from the leaders for the entirety of the 40-kilometre course.
The front nine remained solid throughout the bike, keeping their gap at a steady 48-second lead over the next competitors. It wasn’t until they were through the second transition and onto the run that they separated.
Only one lap in and Cook pushed ahead as the frontrunner. Behind her, Spivey, Jackson, Takahashi and Barthelemy battled for the two remaining podium spots.
Cook was untouched for the whole 10-kilometres, increasing her lead after each lap until she came into the finish line to win by a 38-second margin. Her win would be her third of the year and first at the Japanese venue.
Spivey would break away next to come second, with Jackson just edging out Barthelemy for the bronze.
Jackson said of the medal, “I am happy with the race and getting on the podium. I didn’t have the best season with getting injured early in the season, so to finish with my third world cup podium for the year I can’t complain too much.”
Despite the struggle in the water and the three-minute deficit heading into the run, Ueda ended the day with the fastest run split with a time of 34:23. USA’s Chelsea Sodaro also had an impressive run performance and had the second-fastest time in the day, also doing so by having to overcome a 15-second penalty during a T1 error.
photos Janos Schmidt