06/05/2011 02:33 EDT | Updated 08/05/2011 05:12 EDT

Paula Findlay, Canada, Leads Madrid Triathlon


THE CANADIAN PRESS -- MADRID - Canada's Paula Findlay won the Madrid elite women's triathlon on Sunday, strengthening her lead in the world series championship.

The Edmonton native has won the first two events of the season after claiming the Sydney triathlon in April.

Findlay emerged from the 1.5-kilometre swim in first place, held on to her lead through cycling 40 km and pulled away from Helen Jenkins of Great Britain in the final stretch of the 10-km run.

Jenkins finished three seconds behind, while France's Emmie Charayron came in third, 12 seconds off the pace.

"The feeling is awesome. That was one of the best races of my life and the best swim I have ever had," Findlay said. "I was so happy with my swim that it gave me so much more confidence the rest of the way.

"I'm happier with my swim than I am with the win to be honest."

Findlay charged aggressively to the front while riding up the gruelling hill that the athletes face within seconds of the start of each lap on the 40-kilometre bike course.

Exiting the second transition in fifth spot, Findlay wasted no time darting into the lead on the 10-kilometre run course. Findlay, along with Jenkins and Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand broke away into a group of three. Findlay and Jenkins dropped the field midway through the final lap, and went head-to-head in the battle for gold. Findlay kicked it into top gear with 500 metres to go to solidify the victory.

"It was a tough run, but I felt really in control. Helen was on my tail the whole way and I knew she had a good sprint in her," Findlay said. "I knew I was being pushed, but I had something left in me at all times. I knew with about 800 metres left that I had to go. I didn't know until I hit the blue carpet at the very end."

Findlay extended her lead in the championship series to 1,600 points. Barbara Riveros Diaz of Chile is second with 1,326 and Hewitt is third with 1,318.

Montreal's Kathy Tremblay, the only other Canadian in the event, finished 45th.

After recording her fourth victory in five races on the elite triathlon circuit, Findlay has equalled the most wins ever by a female athlete on the circuit. Reigning world champion Emma Moffat of Australia also has four wins to her credit.

"It is so cool to have been able to do that. I look up to all of the girls out here so much," Findlay said. "I respect all of these girls and I know they are all so tough so every time that I get on the podium I am grateful because I know it doesn't happen all the time."