Five days after it was announced she would represent Great Britain at the Rio Olympics later this summer, Leeds-based Vicky Holland stepped up her preparations with a strong showing on the streets and roads of her adopted home city.
The 30-year-old, who is originally from Gloucester but moved up to Leeds to enhance her chances of winning the major prizes, finished third in the Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon Series women’s race.
Like the rest of the field she had no answer to the world’s leading duo of triathletes.
Gwen Jorgensen has won the World Series the last two years and powered to victory in Millennium Square to press home her status as favourite for Olympic gold in two months time. She even left Fiona Duffy, the 2016 rankings leader, trailing in her wake, though the affable Bermudan was at least good enough to seal a comfortable second place, having led coming out of the cycle leg.
Holland beat fellow Brit Jodie Stimpson in a sprint finish to claim third but took no comfort from being the best of the Brits as she finished one minute 24 seconds behind Jorgensen.
“It’s the best in the world I want to be,” said the 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, before acknowledging that the gap between the top two and the rest will be difficult to bridge.
“It was such a technical course, lots of ups and downs. The course was every bit as brutal as Alistair and Jonny intended it to be.”
Non Stanford, Holland’s housemate in Leeds and fellow Rio Olympian, finished ninth and admitted afterwards she had struggled for form all day.
“I really struggled out there but the crowd in Leeds pulled me through.”
Briton’s Jess Learmonth and Lucy Hall helped set the pace on a bike course that swept through Meanwood and Headingley, before finishing 10th and 13th respectively.