“Today we introduce a scientific term: The Duffy Effect”

(Photo: Instagram Tri_Stats)

She’s the reigning Olympic champion, won the WTCS in 2021, as well as the Xterra World Championship: Flora Duffy. The Bermudan star athlete is on her way to becoming a triathlon legend – we could even say she already is – and that also has to do with the influence she has in races. She would have had such an influence on race dynamics that Instagram-user ‘Tri_Stats’ even came up with a term for it: The Duffy Effect.

Backed by some graphics – illustrated below – they explain how Duffy seems to have created a shift when it comes to the cycling approach of the World Triathlon Championship Series Yokohama. “Today we introduce what we have scientifically termed ‘The Duffy Effect’. The bubble plots here (see figured below, ed.) show the sizes of the bike packs in all WTCS Yokohama races, with the first slide also showing a graph with the percentage of bike finishers that were part of the front pack.”

“Here’s where the Duffy effect gets interesting”, they continue. “In 2017 Flora Duffy and Sophie Coldwell launched a breakaway on the bike that stuck, a tactic that Duffy had made her signature move. In that race, and in every women’s race at Yokohama since, there has been a small breakaway front pack that has put the best part of a minute into the field. While a part of the reason for this shift may be due to the timing of the race in the season, the Yokohama course certainly isn’t as challenging as, say, Bermuda, and so cannot explain the success of these breakaways. Instead, it is the courage of small groups of athletes to attack that has brought about this paradigm shift, and the mantle was picked up in 2021 even in Duffy’s absence.”


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