Nicola Spirig strikes again in Lausanne
The scenario in Lauasanne looked custom-made for Switzerland’s double Olympic medalist Nicola Spirig to continue with her impressive winning streak, and once again she delivered. With the sun beating hard over the stunning Lake Geneva, Spirig showed her class once more to take the tape at the 2018 ITU Lausanne World Cup, cheered on by the thousands of spectators delighted by her dominance of the race. Behind her, the USA’s two-time junior World Champion Taylor Knibb claimed the silver medal, while Italian Verena Steinhauser finished in third place.
It was Britain’s Lucy Hall who managed to exit the swim first, followed closely by Dutch Maya Kingma. Only a few seconds behind, the double U23 World Champion Tamara Gorman (USA) looked like she could be the one to beat, pushing hard to try to break away early on the bike course knowing the talent that was going to be pressing behind.
The field also knew very well that here was a bike course perfectly suited for Spirig, one of the strongest cyclists on the circuit. The testing hills of Lausanne, that the athletes had to ascend 14 times in all, proved to be so demanding that the three leaders were quickly caught by the group, led by the Swiss favourite, who always looked to push even on the uphills.
With Spirig leading and accompanied by Taylor Knibb, Verena Steinhauser and Mathilde Gautier (FRA), by the third lap this small group had built up a commanding lead of almost two minutes by the end of the 40km ride. Behind them, a large chase group looked too big to reduce the time difference, and the women started saving some legs for the 10km run.
And it was to be right after the second transition when Spirig didn’t even look back to see what the other three were going to do. The Swiss, cheered on by thousands of spectators including her husband and two young kids, went out alone and no one was able to follow her, eventually finishing with a 36’04’’ run in the challenging heat, the second-best split of the day.
Behind her, only Knibb was able to handle Spirig’s pace, but the Swiss star looked well aware of the time difference and maintained a 30 seconds gap to cross the line in the first place, all smiles, to the delight of the local crowds. Behind her, Knibb, who had had the fastest split on the bike, got her first podium finish of the season, while for the third woman over the finish line, Steinhauser, this was her second bronze medal of the World Cup season.
In fourth place, another veteran, Barbara Riveros (CHI), back among the top-five places after almost two years out of competition due to several injuries.
“This was not an easy win. I had cramps everywhere, even in the fingers. I tried to still go fast and take it step by step, but it wasn’t easy”, said Spirig after the race. “It was amazing to win here. I had so much support from the crowds. Perfect weather, perfect scenery, it was just perfect. I had my first European Championship back in 1998 here in Lausanne, and it’s amazing to be back. The bike course was crazy. I hadn’t seen so many movements and attacks in a while. Taylor Knibb was really strong and when she attacked I decided to try to stay with her, and it ended up being a great decision. But in the run the legs felt pretty bad, and until I was almost 40 seconds ahead I was not confident and I was able to then enjoy the last meters”, she explained.
For Knibb, Lausanne “wasn’t a perfect race, but it’s getting there”, adding; “It was great that I was able to put it all together. I still need to improve on the swim, but we are getting there.” Knibb, who is in the middle of her studies, said that the podium came at just the right time. “It was a really hard course. I wasn´t confident in the bike course, but I knew that everyone was feeling the same. It’s really nice to have such a course, it’s really honest. And after the bike, I knew that I was not gonna feel great, but that’s better for me to keep a little speed on my legs”.
Bronze medalist Verena Steinhauser said: “This was the hardest race I’ve ever done. The course is amazing, the whole location is amazing, the bike course is really, really hard, but I really liked it. I tried to push on the run but I didn’t have the legs. I’m especially happy after the tragedy that we had back home in Genova last week, and I really want to dedicate this podium to all the victims, I hope this brings a bit of joy for my fellow Italians”.
Related Event: 2018 Lausanne ITU Triathlon World Cup
|Results: Elite Men|
|5.||Jorik Van Egdom||NED||01:51:06|