Spirig scoops up consecutive ETU title
With the sunshine beating down at 31C and with the crowds growing in anticipation of seeing once again their favourite Swiss female elite athlete race the swim/bike/run of Geneva, the atmosphere was electric.
A strong current allowed British athletes Lucy Hall and Jessica Learmonth take full advantage of their swim strength. Having pulled to the front of the pack they built an impressive lead to leave the water comfortably at the front. They were joined on the bike by three others but their pace was such that one by one they fell off the back.
Behind them, Nicola Spirig (SUI), Lisa Nordén (SWE), Annamaria Mazzetti (ITA), Ainhoa Murúa (ESP), Jodie Stimpson (GBR), Margit Vanek (HUN), Zsófia Kovács (HUN) and Jolanda Annen (SUI) were working together to catch them.
Stimpson endured a mechanical issue on her bike, which caused her to drop from the pack. It was not an immediate capture as the two Brits pushed harder and harder on the bike showing great strength and determination. Finally they were caught on the final lap of the bike.
With a couple of attempts to break away, the pack dropped some athletes and soon the leaders, with Spirig, Nordén, Mazzetti and Murúa came into view.But Norden was forced to serve a 15 second penalty for throwing rubbish away on the bike course.
As T2 finished, it was Spirig who accelerated out onto the run course and for the first 5k was content to keep a lead of just under 20 seconds. It was the second half of the 10k that she put in a negative split and really accelerated away, leaving the battle for silver and bronze to be fought by Mazzetti and Murúa.
With the Swiss crowds shouting their encouragement and with the incredible form that Spirig has shown recently, it was never going to be much doubt that she would not take gold. As the crowds erupted into cheers, it was a Swiss victory with Spirig smiling.
The voices rang out to welcome Mazzetti who once again took a medal at a European Championships, trading in her 2014 bronze for a brand new and shining 2015 silver. Ainhoa Murúa crossed the line to take bronze much to the delight of the many Spanish fans whose cheers were ringing out as strongly as those of the Italians.