Nicky Samuels best of Kiwi hopefuls in Chicago
Nicky Samuels was one of many to fade on the run on a hot and humid Chicago day but the New Zealander still finished a credible 13th in the latest stop of the World Triathlon Series.
Wanaka-based Samuels was easily the best of the Kiwi women, finishing 13th in the testing conditions, with Whangarei's Simone Ackermann 22nd and Wellington's Kate McIlroy 31st, after a puncture ruined the latter's hopes of a top-10 finish.
The race was won in imperious fashion by series leader Gwen Jorgensen as the tall, long-striding American erased a 66-second deficit after the bike leg on the run to pull away and win comfortably from Helen Jenkins (Britain) and Juri Ide (Japan).
Jorgensen's sixth world series win is a record for women.
Samuels swam superbly to emerge from the water in second place and took her customary place near the front of the field throughout the bike leg, as a group of 12 put more than a minute on the chase pack.
While there was never any real threat of a breakaway off the front of the group, the leaders did keep the pace relatively high knowing that the threat of Jorgensen was in the chase group.
Both Ackermann and McIlroy were positioned in that chase group having missed the leaders out of the water, but McIlroy punctured late in the bike leg, costing her vital time and any hope of a strong result.
Once on to the run the humid conditions took a toll with many athletes struggling in the oppressive weather. Samuels began strongly but lost time in the second 5km of the run to finish outside the top-10.
"That was a hard and very hot and humid day, the conditions were tough out there for everyone," Triathlon New Zealand national coach Greg Fraine said.
"Kate had an average swim which put her in a tough spot and then a puncture and was in fact riding with a slow puncture throughout the ride, so not a great result but she came through to finish.
"Simone did well in a race that saw her for perhaps the first time go in with an understanding that she can compete at this level, with a certain expectation in tough conditions.
"Nicky though had a good solid race, her swim was exceptional and she rode well. The heat got to her a little on the run but she enjoyed a solid day in very testing conditions."