A career best 15th place for young Sam Ward and an equal best ever result of 13th for Rebecca Spence highlighted the Kiwis efforts at the ITU Edmonton World Triathlon Series race this morning.
Cool conditions greeted the athletes for the penultimate round of the ITU World Triathlon Series in Edmonton this morning New Zealand time, with the women away first over the sprint distance course in 11 degrees air temperature and matching cool water conditions.
A strong contingent of Kiwis stood on the start line, with Andrea Hewitt, Nicky Samuels, Simone Ackermann, Sophie Corbidge, Rebecca Spence and Nicole van der Kaay lining up in the black and white of New Zealand.
None of the Kiwis made the lead pack out of the water however, with 9 athletes establishing a 30 second lead and maintaining it throughout the 4 lap bike course, with the Kiwis in the large chase group.
Rebecca Spence was the one to find her running legs best over the 5km, coming home strongly in 13th place, with Nicky Samuels 15th, Andrea Hewitt 23rd, Simone Ackermann 26th and Nicole van der Kaay in 28th on her WTS debut. Sophie Corbidge did not finish the race.
For Spence the result continues a consistent return to top level racing in 2016, and moves the Aucklander into 36th on the World Rankings, while Andrea Hewitt maintains her 5th place and Nicky Samuels is 24th going into the Cozumel Grand Final in two weeks' time, when double points will be up for grabs.
The race was an American benefit, with the USA grabbing all three podium spots as Summer Cook won her first WTS event, followed home by Sarah True and Katie Zaferes.
In the men's race Richard Varga led out of the water as he so often does, with Jonny Brownlee leading the chasers into T1 and with Aaron Royle (AUS) this trio quickly formed a lead group that would stay clear throughout the bike, albeit what was at times a 30 second lead was reduced to 7 seconds as they hit the run.
Losing that good lead proved no obstacle for Brownlee though as he made no race of it, clearing out to win by 16 seconds from Mario Mola (ESP) and Richard Murray (SAF).
Sam Ward ran superbly to come home in 15th place, less than a minute behind the flying Brit, with Ryan Sissons in 26th place. For Ward it was a career best WTS performance and a near-perfect build up for the U23 World Championships in Cozumel in a fortnight's time.