The USA’s Taylor Knibb took the lead of the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship on Friday in the early miles of the bike – and in truth, never looked like relinquishing it.
By the time she dismounted her Trek Speed Concept she was almost seven minutes clear – meaning she was a mile into the run before her chasers slipped into their running shoes – and 81 minutes later the 24 year-old broke the tape, still more than five minutes in front. It was a very impressive display, from an athlete who has already been World Junior champion (twice), and U23 World Champion.
You can be sure that plenty more titles will come her way over the next decade.
Speaking to host Joanne Murphy at the post-race press conference, of her victory, Taylor said:
“I’m very grateful, I think I’m probably still in shock… I should probably ask some of the people here with more world titles all about it and how it sinks in and how you cope with it, but I am very grateful.”
12 months ago, Taylor – like everyone else in the field – was left trailing in the water by Lucy Charles-Barclay. No such issues today, though Knibb was gracious to thank another athlete for indirectly helping along the way. She outlined her day:
“Whenever you go into a race I feel like you have multiple plans. I had a good swim, a lot better than last year because I was like, wow, I can still see Lucy! I think I have to thank Lotte Wilms because she pulled me up, as I’d lost Lucy’s feet… and then someone came hauling by me – ah there’s new feet! – I was so grateful.
“And then in the first transition I made sure to put lots on. I put socks on, I put a jacket on and then I put gloves on and headed out on the bike. I just kind of rode to my plan and was trying to stick to that as much as possible.”
While she took the lead early, Knibb was clear that she didn’t think about winning until several hours later.
“At mile five you are not thinking whether you can win or not. It’s more that I was just executing my plan and to be perfectly honest, people really started cheering with about 4km to go [Ed. on the run], but I was like, it’s not over until it’s over.
“That last 400m felt so long – just get me across that line, please! I just didn’t want to jinx anything, I didn’t want anything to happen. When it’s so close, you just have to seal the deal.”