Leeds Olympian Non Stanford admits the departure of flatmate Vicky Holland has unsettled her preparations for Sunday’s ITU World Series event.
Stanford lost out to Holland in a pulsating race for bronze in Rio last summer, and revealed the race remains “bittersweet”.
The best friends were separated by just a second at the finish.
Holland has since moved to Bath, but will return north for the second staging of the World Series event tomorrow.
“It’s been really tough,” Stanford said. “I miss having her and her boyfriend Rhys around. They were integral to what I’ve been doing. It’s been really difficult to adapt to not having her around.
“(Rio) is still very bittersweet. Fourth is better than fifth. but at the same time, not as good as getting a medal. I’m no happier about it. but I have been able to put it behind me and get on with what’s ahead now.”
Thousands of spectators are expected at Roundhay Park for the start of the swim and many more will line the cycling and run routes into the city.
The women’s elite race will start proceedings at 1.06pm tomorrow before the men’s race takes place from 3.51pm.
Stanford came seventh in her last race in the Series in Japan despite crashing during the bike leg. That result has left her 24th in the ITU standings with five races to go before the season finale.
The 28-year-old finished ninth in Leeds last year, but has happy memories of competing in her adopted city.
“The crowds last year were unrivalled across the whole of the World Series; hopefully they will be the same or even better again,” Stanford added.
“It’s a very unique opportunity to race in your home town on roads that you ride and drive all the time.”
World No 1 Kirsten Kasper, who is currently ranked third in the Series, will race in Leeds for the first time and revealed the crowds were the main reason she singled out the event for her diary.
She said: “I watched the race last year and was sad to miss it. I definitely made it part of my schedule. It’s amazing the turnout for this race. It seems like a big popular sport here and that’s exciting to be part of.”