Australian Gillian Backhouse won the first ever edition of the ITU Karlovy Vary World Cup after a dominant race, showcasing a magnificient swim, a strong bike and a consistent run in the hills and cobbled streets of the Czech Republic town.

Cheered on by the local crowds, local triathlete Vendula Frintova crossed the finish line in second, while American Summer Cook finished third.

“I am really happy to be back into top level racing. I’ve been swimming very well all year, so I knew that I’ll be there in the swim, probably with Summer. My plan was just to go full gas on the bike from the beginning cause there were a number of girls in the field who can run faster than I can and I didn’t want them with me on the bike”, said Backhouse after the race.

“In a course like this you don’t get much advantage with drafting and going by yourself you can take the best line, and so I did. It was my race plan: swim hard, bike hard, and see what happens on the run”.

Gillian BackhouseGillian Backhouse
(Photo: Janos Schmidt / ITU; click to enlarge)

The Aussie, who hadn’t been on the top of an ITU podium since 2014, executed her race plan perfectly. With 25 athletes taking the start in the Rulova lake, it took only a few metres for Backhouse and Cook to lead the swim. They both left the water together, but the American struggled to get out of her wetsuit, which caused her to lose some precious seconds in transition, enough for the Aussie to start riding solo.

And solo she rode for the 40km, seven laps in the historic city centre of the beautiful spa town, increasing the gap lap by lap, until she had a 2’10’’ diference with the chasers.

Behind her, a big group joined efforts in trying to chase the Aussie, but with no luck. Frintova led the big group from the beginning, along with some other experienced athletes, such as Emma Jackson, Nicole van der Kaay, Sandra Dodet and Summer Cook, but the technical course proved to be too hard for them to chase a solo rider.

Backhouse managed to enter the second transition with a lead of 2’34’’ and when it all came to the running, Frintova and Cook showed that both are in great form, opening a gap with the rest of the chasing group only a few metres out of transition two, in the first climb of the stairs that athletes had to pass four times. Closing the gap by 15 seconds per lap, Frintova was cheered on by the local crowds but her fantastic run was not enough for the victory in Karlovy Vary.

Emma Jackson and Nicole van der Kaay sprinting for the finishEmma Jackson and Nicole van der Kaay sprinting for the finish
(Photo: Janos Schmidt / ITU; click to enlarge)

Victory was indeed for the more consistent athlete of the day, and that was Backhouse, who crossed the finish line first. Behind her, an extremely happy Frintova, who grabbed in Karlovy Vary her first World Cup podium since New Plymouth 2015. Close behind her was Cook, on the podium again after her victory three weeks ago in Yucatan World Cup.

Frintova said: “I am really happy, because I haven´t been on a world Cup podium for a few years, but it really is amazing to do it here in front of the home crowds”.

American Summer Cook said: “It was a very tough course, and I had a very tough morning, I went for a ride and the derailleur on my bike broke. I thought I wouldn’t be able to race, but fortunately the race mechanic was able to fix it. And then I had a good swim, but I struggled to get my wetsuit off, I was so cold that I couldn’t do it. The course was really hard and I was pretty scared, but I learnt today that no matter how hard the course is, I just have to go there and do it.”

Results: ITU Karlovy Vary World Cup

Elite Women

1. Gillian Backhouse (AUS) 2:03:29
2. Vendula Frintova (CZE) 2:04:31
3. Summer Cook (USA) 2:04:56
4. Nicole Van Der Kaay (NZL) 2:05:27
5. Emma Jackson (AUS) 2:05:27
6. Felicity Sheedy-Ryan (AUS) 2:05:31
7. Chelsea Sodaro (USA) 2:06:05
8. Sandra Dodet (FRA) 2:06:07
9. Zsófia Kovács (HUN) 2:06:11
10. Julie Derron (SUI) 2:06:11