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Spirig sprints to regain European Championship title

20 April 2012 by Nicola Hargreaves
Spirig sprints to regain European Championship title

Nicola Spirig (SUI) and Ainhoa Murua (ESP) produced a thrilling sprint finish at the 2012 Eilat ETU Triathlon European Championships this weekend. Spirig outran Murua for the second week running after the pair fought a similar sprint to line in Sydney WTS just last week. Defending champion Emmie Charayron(FRA) held her position throughout the race to take bronze.

The elite women took to the course in the dry heat and it was Great Britain’s Lucy Hall who exited the swim first to run the 300m up to T1. She was closely followed by Jessica Harrison (FRA), Spirig and Charayron who each made up time in the short run up to transition to begin the ride together.

A lead pack of ten quickly formed on the bike swallowing up Hall and included Murua, Denmark’s Camilla Pedersen and Helle Frederiksen and Vanessa Raw (GBR). In the chase pack Mateja Simic (SLO) and Mariya Shorets (RUS) attempted to close the gap in the fourth lap, but a tyre change for Simic entering the fifth lap soon put a stop to their efforts. The chase pack which also included Carole Peon (FRA) fell further away from the leaders as the ride progressed and with no signs of closing the gap they were almost two minutes behind leading into T2.

Spirig lost a few seconds dropping her bike shoe in transition and it was Harrison who strode out first for the run. Murua, Spirig and Charayron were hot on Harrison’s heels and the small group stayed together into the second lap.

On the final lap Spirig and Murua kicked out ahead and behind them, Charayron had pulled away from Harrison as they neared the final straight. A spectacular sprint to the line followed mirroring the previous week in Sydney, but this time it was for the top position. Spirig confidently stepped up a gear in the last few hundred metres to take her third elite European Championship title.

“I’m extremely happy, it’s a dream come true and I’m speechless, it’s amazing,” said Spirig. “I felt good on the run. My training has been going amazing and that’s how it should feel in a race and I’m just extremely happy. It was same sprint with Murua last week in Sydney and I won, but we were discussing that after the race and I told her that I am good in a sprint and I will beat you every time. She knew she had to get rid of me before the sprint and the closer we got to the finish line, the more nervous she became.”

Spirig solidifies her ticket to London 2012 with her win in Eilat while Murua took silver for her first ever European Championship podium.

“I knew that Nicola has a very strong final run. I tried to go hard, on the last lap, pushing and pushing hard but I couldn’t get past,” said Murua. “But after two years of finishing 4th, today I’m second and it has been a really nice race and I’m very happy.”

Defending champion Charayron settled for bronze in her first race of the 2012 season after a difficult winter of training.

“I felt tired because it is my first race of the season but I am very pleased because my swim was perfect,” said Charayron. “I didn’t ride very much in winter so I felt good on the bike. My run was a little out but this was not my goal for the season. I couldn’t defend my title because I am not fit enough. But to finish behind Nicola and Ainhoa is a very good race and I’m very pleased.”

Earlier in the day the junior women’s race was won by Great Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown in the searing midday sun. Taylor-Brown remained in contention throughout the swim and bike before making a break on the last lap where no-one could catch her. Léonie Périault (FRA) finished second and bronze went to Sarah Wilm(GER).

The race action continues in Eilat on Saturday 21 April when the junior and elite men will crown a new European Champion. The junior men begin racing 12:00 and the elite men begin at 15:00.

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