Vicky Holland admitted her surprise at claiming victory at the World Triathlon Series in Leeds after what she described as the worst transition of her career.
Holland led a British one-two of her and Georgia Taylor-Brown across the line past cheering West Yorkshire crowds, but it looked way beyond her capabilities after a nightmare switch from the swimming to cyclingleg.
The Olympic bronze medallist could not get her shoes in the pedals, but she showed terrific grit and determination to fight her way back up the field and break the tape for her third World Series victory.
Holland finished in 1:56.32 with Taylor-Brown 17 seconds behind. American Katie Zafares completed the podium spots.
But for the victorious Holland, she feared her day was done after wasting vital time trying to get her feet secured into her bike.
“If I’m honest, I can’t actually believe I’m standing here having won that race,” said the 32-year-old. “It was just so brutal. I had a fantastic swim start and was just a few places behind Jess [Learmonth].
“There’s the ramp coming into the transition – it’s a hill coming out and I was so tired from that swim where I really spent my pennies trying to hold on to Jess.
“One of my shoes flipped over and if you pedal like that your shoe will actually come off! So I had to stop.
“That might have been the worst transition of my career – after 13 years I’m getting worse, I’ll work on not doing that again!
“All credit to the British girls – I felt like I was holding on all day and yo-yoing and it took me a full lap on the run to actually find my legs. I can’t believe I’ve actually won it!”
It was a strong British showing throughout, with Taylor-Brown’s silver the first World Series podium of her career to date.
Learmonth, leading for long periods of the race, crossed the line in eighth, with Sophie Coldwell 12th.
And Taylor-Brown could not stop smiling after being cheered around the course en route to an historic personal finish for her.
“That was amazing – the crowds were incredible, no matter how much I was hurting, I just wanted to smile the whole way around,” said the 24-year-old.
“And when I went passed my family there was a massive roar!
“Last year I didn’t make the start line because I rolled my ankle the day before. So when I set up transition this morning, I thought ‘I’ve made it further, I’m already a winner’.
“All I wanted to do was get on that start line and start the race, I didn’t care what place I finished.”