Home advantage paid dividends for Georgia Taylor-Brown and Jessica Leamonth as the Leeds-based duo celebrated major breakthroughs at their home triathlon.
Taylor-Brown – born in Manchester but based in Leeds for the last seven years because of the city’s status as the home of British triathlon – claimed the first World Series win of her career by powering away from the field in the run through a packed city centre.
And Learmonth – Wetherby-born and West Yorkshire through and through – held off a surging Taylor Spivey of the United States to claim a first podium finish at the fourth attempt at the AJ Bell World Triathlon Series Leeds.
Learmonth was third with the USA’s Katie Zaferes, winner of the three previous World Series races this year, splitting the two Leeds-based athletes.
“I’m delighted with third,” said Learmonth, 31, who led the race after the 1.5km opening swimming leg in Waterloo Lake in Roundhay Park.
“I messed up transition one and didn’t think it was going to be my day, but I’m delighted to get my first podium in Leeds.”
I messed up transition one and didn’t think it was going to be my day, but I’m delighted to get my first podium in Leeds.Jessica Learmonth
Of that error in transition one that almost undid all her hard work, Learmonth explained: “Basically I got my foot stuck in my shoe, I’ve never done it before. I even went to practice down at Roundhay.
“I was a little disappointed the swim didn’t split up that much but it probably helped that we had a strong group at the front working for each other on the bike. I was able to work with Georgia and could fully commit in that group.”
Leamonth admitted in the build-up that the running leg is her weakness, but after leaving the 40km bike race in Millennium Square as part of a lead group of five, she first fought off compatriot Sophie Coldwell and then held off a surging Spivey to claim third.
“Taylor didn’t really pull much on the bike and I thought ‘if you then come through and beat me on the run, I’ll be fuming’,” quipped Learmonth.
“I felt her pressuring me, I could hear people shouting ‘she’s coming’. I just had to stay positive and kill myself on the run.”
Up ahead, Taylor-Brown, 25, was also digging deep with Zaferes never letting her lead through the streets of Leeds stretch beyond 15 seconds.
“I was worried in those final moments, I think I ran the whole race panicked and worried,” said Taylor-Brown, who was second last year. “But I just thought I’m happy to be here.
“Leeds is a second home for me. I know these roads well and there were so many people out there for me, so many random people shouting my name.”
It was a strong day for home athletes with five Britons in the top 10, including last year’s winner and reigning world champion Vicky Holland.